Watch Reviews

Inside the Audemars Piguet Restoration Department at Le Brassus (VIDEO)

by on Oct.20, 2010, under Review

Wow! These guys seem to have it wired, servicing 100 year old watches from different manufacturers. Skill patience and nerves of steal. I would enjoy being on the sidelines while they work but wouldn’t want that weight on my shoulders. I don’t want to be the one breaking the news, “well, you’ve had this piece in the family for a century but…I spilled my coffee.” oops.

Notice the hand-drawn diagram in the background?Last month I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Audemars Piguet’s facilities at Le Brassus.  I already showed you a quick look at some of the limited edition and prototype Royal Oaks on display in the museum, and today I’ll be taking you inside the AP Restoration Department.

The Restoration Department sits directly next to the museum in Le Brassus, and is the home to several of the most skilled watchmakers at AP – they have to be, because they never know what may be brought through the doors for them to restore.

This unit mostly services and restores highly complicated or historically important pieces, and leaves the standard servicing to others.  Walking in, you are greeted immediately by a table of perpetual calendars and tourbillons, both modern and antique.  We are told that 80% of the jobs they receive come from other watchmakers who have tried to service a watch but simply can not, or have tried and actually damaged the mechanism in the process.

A record is kept, both hand-written and computer-scanned, of every piece that comes through the shop, and this began in 1875.  Sitting in the small workshop is a large safe filled with historical parts, in some cases entire movements dating back over 100 years.  From here, the watchmakers may take pieces to repair the watches as needed, or study old movements to ensure their work is historically accurate.

One of the most impressive facts about the AP Restoration Department is their willingness not only to service watches that are several hundred years old, but also their willingness to service watches that came from other manufacturers in the Vallée de Joux.  If a watch is interesting and happened to have been made by a now defunct manufacture, guess what, they’ll service it.

In the short photo montage below, you’ll be able to see all of the things i mentioned above; the safe full of parts, the computer with records dating back to 1875, the countless tourbillons and perpetual calendars in for service, and countless other oddities.  Take a look and enjoy!

PS – More behind the scenes AP posts coming soon!


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