- 1. History and Brand Reputation of Audemars Piguet vs Rolex
- 2. Design and Craftsmanship of Audemars Piguet vs Rolex
- 3. Top Models of Audemars Piguet vs Rolex
- 4. Prices of Audemars Piguet vs Rolex Watches
- 5. Accuracy of Audemars Piguet Watches vs Rolex Watches
- 6. Best Audemars Piguet vs Rolex Watches For Investment
- 7. Which Audemars Piguet vs Rolex Watches Don’t Hold Their Value?
- 8. 5 Reasons to Buy a Rolex Watch
- 9. 5 Reasons to Buy an Audemars Piguet Watch
- 10. Conclusion
Chrono Hunter Compares Rolex and Audemars Piguet - Which Is Best?
Well, Timelords. We’ve reached the summit of boss battles (think Bowser vs Doctor Robtonik!) as we now see two masters battling a brutal watch duel. How thrilling! For anyone who knows anything about the horological universe, Rolex and Audemars Piguet are major players in the watchmaking game!
Without revealing too much about their storied histories, both brands have been vying for the title of ‘top dog’ since Rolex’s inception in 1905 and Audemars Piguet who have been established since 1875. The victor of such a clash may only win by a silicon hairspring’s breadth! Will it be Hans Wilsdorf or The Beast from Le Brassus that emerges victorious? Touch gloves…seconds out!
History and Brand Reputation of Audemars Piguet vs Rolex
Founded in 1875 by Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet, Audemars Piguet was initially entitled ‘Audemars Piguet & Cie’ in 1881. As one of the very few family owned companies today, the brand is given a creative licence to go nuts with their watches, allowing them to be highly influential. None more so than Gerald Genta, the man famous for the design of the iconic Royal Oak.
It's no surprise that his own Royal Oak model with a customised yellow gold bezel sold at auction for £1.7 million. That’s not all either! The Royal Oak Offshore Limited Edition Michael Schumacher is capped at 1000 pieces and is a tribute to the German F1 superstar. Expect to pay a minimum of £100,000 for these novelties!
Rolex are similarly family owned and have grown endlessly since their foundation in 1905. In fact, since 1960, Rolex has been owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation which is a family trust. Combined with the phenomenal income Rolex garners each year, they have been able to develop and grow their brand…and all in-house we might add! This even goes right down to the Cerachrom bezels and their own patented materials like Everose Gold and their very well known 904L Oyster Steel!
Rolex had a series of ‘firsts’ and key innovations which set them in excellent stead from the get go. From creating the first waterproof watch, the Rolex Oyster, in 1926, the case was screwed down, ensuring significantly better water resistance. In 1945, Rolex would release the Datejust which was the first Chronometer to feature a date aperture that changed automatically.
Audemars Piguet comfortably followed suit. They released highly innovative inventions such as the first ever minute repeater wristwatch in 1892, jumping hour repeater wristwatch in 1892 and the subsequent skeletonised pocket watch in 1934.
Everyone knows the influence that Rolex has had. Only 5 years after their inception, Rolex manufactured a watch which was the first to ever receive a Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision. In 1914, they would receive a class ‘A’ precision certificate for their pioneering Oyster watch.
Audemars Piguet - Royal Oak
The brand had the precision nailed down to a fine tee, instead choosing to develop form and design. They would create the iconic ‘Royal Oak’ collection in 1972 as inspired by highly revered watch designer, Gerald Genta. The visuals were sleek both on and off the wrist and represented a huge shift from their previous works, filled to the brim with delicious complications.
Rolex’s clientele extends from former US Presidents to iconic celebrities, actors and major influencers. World leaders like Barack Obama and John F Kennedy wore the now discontinued Rolex Cellini and Day-Date respectively. Need we mention cultural icon Jay Z with his vast swathes of Rolex watches?
These stem from The Daytona to the one off Franck Muller designed Rolex Datejust. How about John Mayer who even has a Rolex nicknamed after him, The Rolex Daytona ‘John Mayer’? What’s certain is that Rolex has a very extensive and illustrious clientele.
Audemars Piguet doesn't fare too badly either! Fresh Prince and star of Ali, Will Smith swears by the brand with his fancy Royal Oak 15500 while multi Grand Slam Champion Serena Williams has been spotted with a nice bit of arm candy in the shape of The Royal Oak Offshore Quartz.
Rolex though just has a little more selling and watchmaking brand power due to the cultural status, clever marketing and technical precision it's garnered. Rolex epitomises wealth, luxury refinery and a status symbol, especially among new Gen-Z spenders and watch enthusiasts with a thirst for horological lineage and ultimate precision.
Yes, they may have a stronger brand reputation and set the scene for some stunning collections and watches but Audemars Piguet have been around longer. They have resided in the upper echelons of watchmaking royalty being part of the timekeeping triumvirate known as the “Holy Trinity”, allowing the brand to have a stronger history. It’s really too close to call.
We grant the history and brand reputation to both Rolex and Audemars Piguet…It's a tie!
Design and Craftsmanship of Audemars Piguet vs Rolex
The design and construction of Rolex watches are second to none. Rolex is capable of making watches which are both groundbreaking and naturally look appealing on the wrist.
Rolex - Pepsi
Rolex uses their very own 904L steel to craft extremely durable watches. Everything is done in-house, ensuring the quality of the materials due to their being no third party interference. Even the bezel has been a source of great value for these watches. Crafted out of Rolex’s patented Cerachrom since 2005, the bezel features a multitude of different colours, garnering quirky nicknames like The ‘Sprite’ or The ‘Pepsi’.
The bracelets are similarly patented and have revolutionised the comfort aspect of watches. The signature Oysterflex bracelet blends robustness with feel and can be seen on numerous models like the Rolex Sea-Dweller. Not to worry if you don't land this model though, as there is a wide variety, from the Oyster on the Submariner, the President on the Day-Date and the Jubilee on the Datejust. You really are spoilt for choice time peeps!
Black Ceramic Royal Oak - Source - Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar - Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet also utilises innovative materials. Take for example the black ceramic on the Black Ceramic Royal Oak Skeleton model. This shows that they don't resign themselves to standard steel and are capable of doling out the juicy stuff! The Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin is crafted out of titanium, showing the expansive skill of the brand in its ability to deal with many different precious metals.
While Audemars Piguet are capable of dealing with very challenging materials, Rolex have this round locked down due to their patented metals, highly innovative bracelets and well-crafted bezels.
We give the design and craftsmanship award to Rolex.
Top Models of Audemars Piguet vs Rolex
As previously stated, Rolex has an impressive array of watch collections that would even make Jay-Z quake in his timekeeping boots!
Their key model is hard to put a finger on, as the majority of their collections are highly revered, sought after and will hold value. The one that is most famed and could be argued to be a grail watch for many enthusiasts and collectors is of course The Rolex Daytona collection.
The Rolex Daytona at first glance could be construed as just yet another sports watch. Its tachymetric scale and subsequent sub dials all relate to the measurement of speed in racing. These watches are never so straightforward but its racing spirit certainly is!
The Rolex 116500LN is made from stainless steel and was the first stainless steel Daytona to feature a Cerachrom bezel as per its release at Baselworld 2016. It was highly lauded then and still is today due to its no nonsense classic sports craftsmanship, horological energy and top-notch movement accuracy.
26600OR - Source - Atomos Watch Club
Audemars Piguet are famed for their complicated watches and stunning avant-garde design. In fact, The Code 11:59 collection, as released in 2019, garnered a high amount of praise and excitement due to its first-rate innovation. The Code 11:59 26600OR is a prime example as it is crafted out of rose gold and is entirely skeletonised, including its highly functional tourbillon feature.
The watchmaking brand’s reluctance to venture into skeletonisation and other break through design styles limits them slightly against brands that jump in head first such as Hublot or Zenith. That’s not to say that the classic Rolex design is a criticism, it’s just that Audemars Piguet watches are a tad more exciting on a visual front.
I am afraid this time, we give the top models round to Audemars Piguet.
Prices of Audemars Piguet vs Rolex Watches
Without stepping on any toes, both brands are exorbitant as for their prices!
Neither brand offers an affordable route into their watches. The cheapest Audemars Piguet watch is The Royal Oak Quartz. You can buy an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Quartz at retail for £14,900. The cheapest Rolex watch is the Oyster Perpetual 41mm.
You can buy a Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41mm at retail for £5,400. These watches represent the entry level for luxury brands, showing how expensive they are! In comparison, you can buy a Tudor Black Bay 54 at retail for £3,030. This shows the disparity between cheaper watches from highly regarded luxury brands and the top models from entry level luxury brands.
Don’t be put off however…this is all for a good reason! The level of quality, detail and craftsmanship that goes into each model for either brand is astounding. In addition, the money you invest has the potential to come back and match its resale value and in some cases, overtake the original MSRP price.
You can buy a Rolex Explorer II 226570 at retail for £8,100 at the time of writing. While this is quite pricey and would represent a significant investment for most people, it sells for around £10,500 on the secondary market at the time of writing. Other watches which have a significant influence on the horological world, like Paul Newman’s Rolex sell for exorbitant figures of around £15 million.
Perpetual Calendar - Source - Timekeepers Club
Audemars Piguet follows the same price pattern as Rolex. You can buy an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar at retail for £91,100. You can buy it on the secondary market for around £110,000 at the time of writing. Yet, Rolex aren't the only one with highly priced watches either. In fact, Audemars Piguet have an unbelievably long list of pricey novelties;
- Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Spider-Man - Capped at 250 pieces, this retails for around £175,000 at the time of writing.
- A One-off Spider-Man version which features a black suited Spider-Man and an auction price of £5 million for the watch and two other lots.
- AP Royal Oak Grande Complication Watch - Upwards of £500,000 on the secondary market.
- Jules Audemars Minute Repeater Supersonnerie- This had a retail price of just under £300,000 at the time of writing this.
It can be considered that Rolex are cheaper than Audemars Piguet overall. The argument of whether or not the price hike represents an increase in quality over Rolex is debatable. After all, Rolex are highly influential and has created many stunning watches which blend both longevity and craftsmanship together.
Therefore, we give the price round to Rolex.
Accuracy of Audemars Piguet Watches vs Rolex Watches
Rolex are entirely self-sufficient with their construction process, right down to the materials they utilise. This means that they have patented some truly outstanding parts when it comes to their selection of movements. And gone are the days when Rolex movements used to be manufactured by Swiss outfit Aegler.
They are responsible for creating the Parachrom hairspring which ensures absolute precision thanks to a Parachrom alloy construction. This increases shock resistance and offers more support during intense temperature variances. The Paraflex Shock Absorber does what it says on the tin by ensuring that absolutely no shocks affect the movement.
The Syloxi Hairspring is crafted out of silicon which ensures phenomenal resistance to magnetism as well as promotes the movement's accuracy. The Chronergy Escapement improves the ‘escapement’ aspect of the movement, allowing your watch to tick away merrily!
Royal Oak Concept - Source - Wristcheck
Audemars Piguet has a few adjustments of their own. The brand's double balance wheel escapement oscillates in perfect harmony, ensuring the steady precision of the watch and the security of the balance. The brand has created their own escapement which allows for less energy to be lost and reduces the need for servicing in order to keep the watch stable.
Audemars Piguet has been a major influencer in the world of the tourbillon. As they are the first brand to release the first selfwinding tourbillon wristwatch in 1986, they have continued battling on, allowing relevant watches like the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT to better remove the effects of gravity on the watch.
So if you want to walk on sunshine like Katrina and The Waves, it seems AP is a hot contender. They also have the Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin which is constructed at a miniscule 6.3mm but still houses a perpetual calendar complication. This shows the level of craftsmanship that the brand is capable of by pushing the boundaries of slender watchmaking with highly complicated designs.
While the technical innovation of Audemars Piguet is certainly not to be sniffed at, Rolex has innovated more with the ambition of keeping their watches as precise as possible. Need we mention their Superlative Chronometer Certification that delivers nothing but the highest standards?
This time, we award the accuracy round to Rolex.
Best Audemars Piguet vs Rolex Watches For Investment
While the majority of Rolex and Audemars Piguet watches hold their value, there are some which go far above and beyond!
As the rule usually goes, the rarer or more vintage a watch is, the more likely it is to be a potentially better investment. We are more than happy to say that Rolex has a few models of this calibre (pardon the pun!).
The 1942 Rolex Antimagnetique 4113 represents Rolex’s only split-seconds chronograph and is unique in its 44mm diameter which is significantly larger than the rest of Rolexes chronographs. With only 12 models in existence, you can buy a Rolex 4113 on the secondary market for just over a cool £2 million - at the time of writing.
Audemars Piguet 1520IP
Audemars Piguet does follow suit in terms of the same trends as Rolex. The Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin 15202IP is limited to just 250 pieces and crafted out of the highly revered titanium providing uber lightweightness.
Furthermore, the ultra-limited Royal Oak Offshore Titanium Grand Complication only has 3 pieces, demonstrating how unbelievably rare some of the brand's models can be. You can buy an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Titanium Grand Complication for around £600,000 at the time of writing.
Bao Dai - Source - The Mirror
If rarity is what you are after, Rolex’s Bao Dai is one of those exceptionally uncommon Rolex watches which no one will ever see! You might need to buy a vault for this one. In fact, It’s so rare that only the social elites can get their hands on it. Sold to the last emperor of the Nguyen dynasty in Vietnam in 1954, there were only three ever made featuring diamond indices! Now who said diamonds aren’t a girl’s or man’s best friend.
You can buy a Rolex Bao Dai at retail for around £4 million.
Common, (in big quotation marks,) models yield potentially excellent investment pieces. You can buy an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph for £65,300 but buy it on the secondary market for around £100,000 at the time of writing. A near 40% increase.
This is the same with Rolex too. You can buy a Rolex Submariner at retail for £7,700 but buy one on the secondary market for around £10,500 at the time of writing. A jump of nearly 30%. Both watchmaking brands have their fair share of rare and vintage watches which allow them to be potentially exceptional investments.
Even down to the more common models, the value does tend to go up. In addition, it’s fair to say that due to Audemars Piguet’s inclusion among “Holy Trinity” circles with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, the brand is more likely going to be a desirable luxury brand than Rolex. But again, it’s a really tough decision. We might need the referee to step in to call time!
However, we award the best investment pieces round…to Audemars Piguet.
Which Audemars Piguet vs Rolex Watches Don’t Hold Their Value?
Short answer. All of them do!
The strong reputations of both luxury brands as well as their high level of craftsmanship and movement accuracy ensures that every model is exceptionally high quality and therefore unlikely to diminish in value. With both watchmaking brands capable of having their watches hold value and in some cases increasing past MSRP, both brands tend to surpass the boundary of losing value.
Sorry to say, Timelords, it's another tie!
5 Reasons To Buy A Rolex Watch
- High levels of craftsmanship.
- All watches are extremely precise due to their technological innovation in creating Cerachrom, Everose gold and Oyster Steel.
- You are unlikely to lose much value on your watch due to the brand strength and resale value.
- You are buying into a brand with an extremely rich heritage such as The Rolex Daytona and Rolex Submariner.
- The proven status and prestige winners with phenomenal celeb appeal such as Jay-Z and John Mayer!
5 Reasons To Buy An Audemars Piguet Watch
- All of the brand's watches are subject to satin or brushed finishing, ensuring the beautiful shine of the watch.
- AP aren't afraid to delve into uncharted territory with their materials and their thirst for innovation. Check out the blue ceramic on the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar!
- Exclusivity: The brand releases around 40,000 watches a year compared to Rolex’s annual output of 1 million watches.
- They are instantly recognizable due to its long standing independent heritage.
- The designs are unlike anything else. The Gerald Genta inspired Royal Oak collection features an octagonal bezel with 8 distinct hex screws.
We’ve been down into the nitty gritty and we have come back up with our victor to which watchmaking brand is the best out of Rolex versus Audemars Piguet. Drumroll please…and on the horological score cards today…it’s a split decision. We call this one a draw.
While this may seem to be a cop out answer and a big mea culpa on our part, both watchmaking brands really are as skilled, precise and innovative as each other. While Rolex fare’s a little better with its brand reputation due to its cultural prevalence as the ultimate watch brand, Audemars Piguet shines when it comes to the avant garde appeal and being one of the Godfathers of the horological world.
The salient point remains that both brands are highly influential to the rest of the horological world. Both brands have released watches which have paved new paths for innovation and have been associated with the social elites and greats. This is probably one of the only few times where a tie is celebrated, lauded and applauded by us! Time is ticking until the next comparison, so stay tuned you hungry horophiles.
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