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Audemars Piguet - Renaud & Papi Welcomes the Public

Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi Welcomes the Public

Switzerland's watchmaking tradition was once again in the spotlight at the 2019 Watchmaking Heritage Days.

For the ninth time, the world of watchmaking opened its doors to the public (from Germany, Belgium, France, Canada, Switzerland, etc.), from November 1st to 3rd, when manufactures, museums, workshops and other venues in Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds gave watch enthusiasts a glimpse of their work at the 9th Watchmaking Heritage Days, that were a special edition for the ten-year anniversary of watchmaking urbanism at UNESCO.

Renaud & Papi Welcomes the Public

© Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds/Aline Henchoz


Audemars Piguet was one of those taking part with Renaud & Papi, its manufacturing arm specialising in the design and production of complication watches. Co-founder with Dominique Renaud, Giulio Papi set up the manufacture because he wanted to work on complex mechanisms: "I didn't want to be the guy changing batteries in a shop. I wanted to work on complication watches," he says. In 1992 Audemars Piguet invested in the company as a financial partner. Following the departure of Dominique Renaud and, a few years later, Robert Greubel, it also became a commercial partner and, since this year, a global partner. "As a global partner, it wants to make the Le Locle site a part of its image, hence why new premises are currently being built, scheduled for end 2020, among other things," notes Papi.

Renaud & Papi Welcomes the Public

© Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds/Aline Henchoz


This year's Watchmaking Days were something of a milestone, this being the first time the public had been allowed inside the Le Locle manufacture, with Giulio Papi himself proving to be an accomplished tour guide. The event attracts a knowledgeable audience, and his explanations of the different parts of the building, and the work carried out there, were adapted to this level of interest. Papi took care to present the workshops in a methodical way, beginning with a general introduction then giving a detailed description of what each person was doing - as they carried on unfazed by the visitors clustered around the workbench. In the decoration and finishing workshop, for example, he delivered information clearly and simply, explaining how every component was sent there to have all traces of machining removed and/or to be given a particular finish or pattern. He elaborated on the various techniques used in the industry, in dial finishing for example where he pointed out the various methods, such as sunray brushing and sandblasting. 

The watchmakers were equally instructive in their descriptions of what they were doing - as were their colleagues in the other workshops, for example production. Despite being under scrutiny, with the added pressure this implies, all the employees showed great patience and clarity in their explanations, as one visitor confirmed: "Everyone took time to tell us what they were doing, using simple terms we could understand." Commentary throughout the tour was geared towards both adults and children, ensuring that nobody was left out.

Renaud & Papi Welcomes the Public

© Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds/Aline Henchoz

This noteworthy initiative by Renaud & Papi contributes to a greater democratisation of watchmaking as it gives a wider audience insight into this aspect of Swiss culture. Opening up the doors of the industry this way has an additional benefit too: that of sparking vocations that will carry on Switzerland's grand watchmaking tradition.


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Audemars Piguet is one of the few independent family-owned watch businesses and has been based in Le Brassus, in Switzerland's Vallée de Joux region, at the heart of the fine watchmaking industry, ever since the company was first established in 1875.

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