Major breakthrough. Decisive turning point. Timeless legend. With the hindsight of 40 years, watch enthusiasts widely hail the spectacularly unconventional Audemars Piguet Royal Oak dreamt up by late designer Gérald Genta in 1972 as a milestone in horological history. To the point where some might be tempted to forget that today’s icon was the target of fierce initial criticism and even contempt. Born amid a climate of artistic experimentation and intellectual effervescence, it overturned the far more conformist customs of mechanical watchmaking.
Honouring secular traditions while blasting conventions, the Royal Oak has been progressively and definitively adopted by collectors, connoisseurs and the public at large. In it, they recognize a radical act and an authentic work of art. A living legend that has been perpetually reinvented over the past four decades but yet has always remained true to its makers' original idea.
What better way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a design icon than to present an exhibition expressing the innovative perspective of contemporary artists?
Dan Holdsworth’s photographic work documents the Vallée de Joux, the place where this story started, at its stillest hours, capturing the ancient forests and glacial topography under the celestial presence of mist or moon to convey the extraordinary temporal significance vested in the landscape.
Matter, Quayola’s time-based digital sculpture, plays with The Thinker as a metaphor for the ethos and approach behind the Royal Oak. One may say that, like Audemars Piguet, Rodin first mastered the rules of the academia to then eventually break them to create the iconic sculpture that is now considered the bridge with modernity.
Sébastien Léon Agneessens’ sculptural and sonic installation features massive metallic rock fragments inspired by the Royal Oak’s materiality and angular shapes, while offering a new experience of time by infiltrating the intrinsic sounds of timepieces and by rearranging ambient recordings from Le Brassus.
Together they provide the perfect backdrop against which to stage the epic saga of the Royal Oak – iconoclast turned icon and which so vividly embodies Audemars Piguet’s enduring spirit of independence.
Chairwoman of the Board of Directors
- More information about the 40th anniversary on our dedicated section.