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June 11, 2015

Why Jasmine Audemars Is Passionate About Time

Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena

Jasmine Audemars talks about her timeless family legacy and her vision for the future

More than two decades ago, she took over the reins of Audemars Piguet after a long and successful career as a journalist in the fields of economics and international relations. Jasmine Audemars, the great granddaughter of Jules Louis Audemars (who founded the company with Edward Auguste Piguet in 1875), sets a great value to her legacy, even as she enhances the House with her vast experience and vision. The President of the Audemars Piguet Board of Directors and the Audemars Piguet Foundation has often emphasised that ‘respect, integrity, exclusivity, refinement, inspiration and passion’ are values that can be traced back to her family’s Huguenot origins which also underlines why they ‘do not care for ostentation’. At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2015, the lady says that she looks forward to the future, even as she treasures the lessons of the past.

When you took over the company, was it a challenge being a woman in this field?
“Not really; earlier I was a journalist.  When I started journalism there were very few women in the field. There was only one woman in the newspaper when I started there. Men were rather astonished, especially as I was working for the economics section, but after a few years, all this changed. In the watch industry, there are many women, so it was never a problem.”

From the world of journalism to the world of watches, what were the insights you brought with you?
“Well, I think the main thing is that it is all about people. In a newspaper you need talented, gifted people, hard workers, committed people, and when you come to the watch industry, it’s exactly the same. Everything depends on people. You have to take care of your people and choose the most competent and committed ones.”

What was it like growing up in a family committed to time?
“My family had a strong influence on our education. We were always told that in life you have to work very hard; you must never be carried away by success and you must always be ready to face difficult times because the company had gone through difficult times in the past. So we were brought up in a frame of mind that inculcated in us the sense that we were not going to have an easy life.”

Can you share an interesting anecdote about growing up surrounded by timekeepers?
“I remember those days very well. When we were living in our family home, every night I would hear stories about watchmaking, because my father and grandfather were always talking about watches, their technical problems and issues in the market. I used to go to the factory and I was fascinated when I saw all those pieces, all the boxes with the spare parts.”

Do you remember the first watch that you ever owned?
“We were not allowed to have an Audemars Piguet watch before we were 20 years old. My first watch was one that my father gave me. I think it was a Tissot. The first Audemars Piguet watch that I finally got was a round classical one.”

You’ve nurtured the brand for the last so many years; what’s your formula for success?
“There is no secret formula like what goes into Coca-Cola! First, it’s all about passion. You have to be passionate about the brand. You have to be passionate about watches. And the other thing is that you have to feel a strong responsibility towards the company, towards all the stakeholders and towards the region where we live, because a company like Audemars Piguet is very important in the region. We are in a village with something like 1,500 inhabitants.”

Is there an achievement that you would like to mention?
“I would like to mention the Audemars Piguet Foundation. It was created by my father in 1992. At that time, there were not so many foundations in the watch business. We are deeply involved in environmental causes. The goal of the Audemars Piguet Foundation is the conservation of forests around the world and the education of children regarding the environment. We chose to intervene in the protection of forests for one good reason — our region, the Jura, is full of forests that are very well protected, but around the world people don’t have the same luck. So the foundation has financed a lot of projects worldwide over the past many years.”

You have a deep association with art and culture as well.
“Yes, we have partnered with Art Basel. We also partner with the Montreux Jazz Festival. We feel that there is a link between art and the world of timekeepers because the kind of watch-making we do at Audemars Piguet is a form of art. It is craftsmanship with a strong history.”

Personally, what do you look for in a watch?
“I value my timekeepers for more reasons than one. I want my watch to have a high level of efficiency so that I can trust it. Of course, I want it to have a beautiful movement and a very nice design.”

Your tag line is inspirational — To break the rules, you must first master them.
“Yes. We came up with that after we thought of the history of Audemars Piguet and what we have done since the beginning. We felt that this was one of the very best ways to define ourselves. And, to give you just one example, what we are showing here at SIHH 2015, is in a way breaking the rules.”

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