Since 1875, Audemars Piguet has produced complex and refined watches, equally beautiful inside and out, finished and assembled by hand. Decoration techniques add the final touch, turning timepieces into true works of art.

Close-up of a Royal Oak case

A timepiece’s case reflects the strength that lies within. Its detailed hand-finished design acts as a protective shield for the movement, safeguarding it from shocks and moisture, all the while affording the timepiece style and personality.

Since the Manufacture’s origins, Audemars Piguet cases and bracelets have presented high-end finishing techniques usually found on calibres. Today, the contrast between polished and satin-brushed surfaces has become Audemars Piguet’s distinctive signature.

Audemars Piguet unveiled the Royal Oak Frosted Gold in 2016 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ladies’ Royal Oak designed by Jacqueline Dimier in 1976. A collaboration with jewellery designer Carolina Bucci, this contemporary timepiece is rooted in an ancient gold hammering technique.

This method, also called Florentine technique, consists in beating gold with a diamond-tipped tool to create tiny indentations on the surface, for a sparkle effect similar to that of precious stones, like diamond dust. While Carolina Bucci has reinterpreted this technique in jewellery design today, Audemars Piguet’s craftspeople developed it into a horological craft suited to the unique case and bracelet construction of the Royal Oak.

Close-up of a Royal Oak case finished with Frosted Gold

Audemars Piguet watches are adorned with highly creative and expressive dials. Complex craftsmanship is topped off with high-end decorations and creative hour-markers, numerals and hands.

An artist decorating an enamel dial with gold spangles

Openworking is an ancestral watchmaking art that has been an Audemars Piguet speciality since the 1930s.

Openworking consists in making openings in certain parts of the movement, such as plates and bridges, to reveal the beauty of the mechanism, especially its balance wheel, the beating heart of the watch. Working with a tiny hand saw, our openwork specialists start with the end design and works backward, removing as much material as possible—up to 60 or 70% of the movement—without jeopardising the reliability and precision of the watch’s mechanism.

The artisan then individually finishes the cut-out parts, rounding off and polishing the angles of the bridges, satin-brushing its flanks and stippling its recesses. The openworking of a Grande Complication takes approximately 150 hours of high precision work.

Close-up of a Royal Oak Tourbillon Openworked
Gemsetting of a high jewellery timepiece component

A vast array of gem-setting techniques ensures that precious stones light up each timepiece in its own unique way. These techniques include snow setting, closed setting, claw setting and grain setting, to name but a few, the oldest of which is the closed setting, which involves enclosing the stone in a gold thread.

Since its inception, Audemars Piguet has collaborated with prestigious jewellery brands, including Tiffany, Cartier, Oscar Heyman and Bvlgari to case its movements in unique Haute Joaillerie creations shimmering with diamonds and coloured gemstones. One notable example is the “Tutti Frutti” watch sold in 1929, equipped by Calibre 5/7SB, the smallest movement ever produced by the Manufacture. The external design of this unique piece comprising diamonds, emeralds, rubies as well as blue and yellow sapphires was crafted by the Parisian jeweller Egouvillon Lafon & Cie Paris (Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 1378).

The 1960s and 1970s witnessed the development of highly creative watches enriched with natural stone dials. 

Dials made of tiger’s eye, lapis lazuli, aventurine, grossular garnet, opal, onyx, ruby, amethyst and japser, to name but a few, could be found in the Audemars Piguet catalogues, sometimes in combination with other gemstones featured on the case and bracelet.

In the 1980s, the growing trend for watches with welded bracelets spurred Audemars Piguet to open its own jewellery workshop and progressively create distinctive gemset watches in house, culminating with its Haute Joaillerie collection debuted in 2013.

Far from being confined to these one-off fine jewellery creations, impressive gemsetting continues to infuse Audemars Piguet’s collections today. While some timepieces present a bezel set with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, amethysts or rainbow-coloured gems, others are fully paved with diamonds or coloured stones to offer unique iridescent effects and contrasts.

Close up of a Royal Oak strap entirely paved with blue topaz stones. / Close up of a Royal Oak case entirely paved with blue tsavorite stones.
Close-up of the Diamond Fury timepiece


4,635 brilliant-cut diamonds on the case and bracelet, plus another 206 on the dial alone, compose the Diamond Fury.


It took passion, perfection and over 1,500 hours to finish the Diamond Fury.