Where did the idea of an oval case come from?
Oval cases were in fashion in the 70s. Audemars Piguet has one/several timepieces in its Museum. A similar line was initially presented by Audemars Piguet in the 1980s. At that time, the oval, somewhat feminine form, with generous dimensions, was designed for men. I found the contrast intriguing. In fact, the collection impressed me even before I joined the company in 2003.
You wanted to revive these older models?
Yes, because I was convinced of the potential of this unusual form. I made several sketches, with a more distinctly oval shape and a more virile case with straightforward lines. Millenary has become the contemporary collection of the brand, bridging classicism and modernism.
What were your sources of inspiration?
When I visited the Audemars Piguet museum and studied the enamel faces on these earlier models, I was struck by the fact that on some the numbering for the minutes was the same size as for the hours. From there, we worked graphically on the numerals to highlight the oval form and occupy its space as in a playing field.
After the design phase, you took the collection to new heights in technical performance?
In collaboration with Giulio Papi of Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi, we developed calibers with complex technical characteristics, such as the Millenary Carbon One with its tourbillon and chronograph functions, the Cabinet No. 5, with a linear perpetual calendar and more recently the Minute repeater with its oval-shape striking gongs.
Audemars Piguet presented a new Millenary model at the 2011 SIHH show. Can you please describe it?
The 4101 Millenary has been introduced this year with two original models, one in stainless steel and the other in pink gold. Its movement, which is entirely designed, developed and produced in-house, has been conceived to unveil on the front of the watch elements normally concealed on the back. Thus, various elements connected to the structure of the movement and to its functional role have played a major role in the overall aesthetic appeal of the watch. The Millenary 4101 is therefore considered as a sophisticated whole distinguishable by its tridimensional and high-tech design.