Last November 2016, Audemars Piguet launched the anniversary edition of the women’s Royal Oak with a gala dinner at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Actress and brand ambassador Freida Pinto attended the event along with Jasmine Audemars, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Audemars Piguet and François-Henry Bennahmias, the Chief Executive Officer. Also in attendance was Jacqueline Dimier, the watch designer who created the first Royal Oak for women back in 1976.
Jacqueline Dimier is a contemporary of designer Gerald Genta. She is one of only a few female watch designers today. Dimier joined Audemars Piguet in 1975 and was appointed as the in-house head of design not long after. One of her strengths as a watch designer is being able to design watches that conform and adapt to women’s changing watch design preferences. She continued her role as the head of watch design for the brand until 1999.
The main attraction of the evening was the unveiling of the new Royal Oak Frosted Gold. This timepiece was created with the collaboration of Florentine jewelry designer Carolina Bucci. Before we get to the watch, let’s learn a little but about the jewelry designer.
Carolina Bucci is a fourth generation jeweler. She follows the tradition of excellence in manufacturing applying traditional techniques in designing pieces that adhere to contemporary tastes and styles. Her first collection was called Woven. It was a line of jewelry created using a centuries-old loom originally designed to weave textiles but was adapted to weave gold and silk threads. Every piece of fine jewelry is created in the family’s workshops in Florence. There, Carolina sits beside her craftsmen, not just to supervise, but to work closely with them. It is her practice that creativity and creation should work hand in hand in order for the finished product to come out as close to the vision as possible.
Audemars Piguet has a tradition of experimenting with jewelry techniques. It was but natural to collaborate with Carolina for the design of the new Royal Oak Frosted Gold. The technique that was used in this iteration is an ancient gold hammering technique, also called the Florentine technique. The hammering technique is precisely that: hitting a material with a hammer to achieve a desired pattern or effect. Simple as it may sound, it involves a skill and a master’s touch. Tapping it too lightly will hardly cause any effect, but hammering it too hard may cause deformities. It is safe to say that you start off with light taps that hardly make any impression on the material, then slowly applying more pressure until the desired effect, or indentation, is achieved. Applying the exact amount of pressure each and every time to cover the surface you want decorated. If the design you wish to achieve takes the form of a repeating pattern (much like that of a brick wall or hexagons found in the honeycomb of a beehive) deviations in the power of the hammer strike will be apparent and destroy the overall effect.
Carolina chooses to use a diamond-tipped tool to leave faceted dents on the surface of the material. This gives her the ability to produce eye-catching patterns that give off a distinct sparkle when light rays bounce off the piece of jewelry.
The technique itself is challenging. What makes it even more challenging is applying this technique to the case and bracelet of the watch without altering the clean lines that define the Royal Oak’s form. It took several months of trial and error to get the kind of sparkle on the watch when it catches the light. By applying a surface treatment process, they were able to retain the beauty of the hammering process while keeping the softness and flexibility of the Royal Oak’s bracelet.
The Royal Oak Frosted Gold celebrates the 40th anniversary of the original women’s Royal Oak designed by Jacqueline Dimier back in 1976. Her designs, both for men and for women, still resonate in the Le Brassus Manufacture today. “I am very happy to participate in this launch,” said Dimier. “The Royal Oak collection is a timepiece that meets women’s taste today like it did yesterday, and it will continue to do so tomorrow. It’s timeless and the Royal Oak Frosted Gold is the latest chapter in this ongoing story.”
Carolina Bucci stated: “I think it is less common for watches to be designed by women, than, say, fashion or jewelry – and that was even truer when Jacqueline Dimier designed the first Royal Oak for women. Everybody knows about the quality and craftsmanship of Audemars Piguet, but perhaps by injecting this feminine sensibility, people see a new side – something a bit more flamboyant and exuberant with just as much attention to detail. The Royal Oak is one of the most iconic watch designs in existence. That is quite daunting when you are considering how to refresh something aesthetically, I wanted go give the watch a dynamic quality that captures the attention of those who see it. When I think about my jewelry, I think about both the wearer and those who will see it being worn. By treating the finish of the gold with a Florentine effect, you have added nothing to the watch, nor subtracted anything – just altered the surface of the gold to make it sparkle when catching the light. In doing so, the watch becomes something entirely fresh and confident.”
Jasmine Audemars said: “Although Carolina and Jacqueline are decades and cultures apart, Carolina’s vision today met Jacqueline’s in more than one way, giving the Royal Oak an appeal that captures the attention from a distance while retaining the key design codes of the original piece. With this in mind, I would like to thank them both for their talented work.”
“Although Carolina and Jacqueline are decades and cultures apart, Carolina’s vision today met Jacqueline’s in more than one way, giving the Royal Oak an appeal that captures the attention from a distance while retaining the key design codes of the original piece. With this in mind, I would like to thank them both for their talented work.”