There are a lot of similarities between those that love golf and those that build watches – both have to be dedicated, have enormous self control and be a pure perfectionist. In golf and in watchmaking, you need precision, ambition and grace.
The game and the brand share a history as well. Audemars Piguet started as a family business in 1875 (and is still the oldest fine watchmaking manufacturer still run as a family business), around the same time that golf took off around the world – thanks to cheaper and easier travel through burgeoning train networks and the introduction of a cheaper, more durable golf ball. By 1914 there were over 1,000 courses in Britain, while in the USA, the first national amateur golf championship was held in 1894.
It makes sense then that a watch brand so dedicated to ambitious and complex timepieces like Audemars Piguet, and dating back to this time, would associate itself with the fairway.
“The parallels between golfing and watchmaking are clear: both are arts of precision and require dedication and a relentless drive for pushing boundaries.” François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, has said before.
The watch brand organises its own golf competitions all over the world, where guests can play alongside the brand’s golf ambassadors for a series of Audemars Piguet trophies. Last year the watchmakers hosted their prestigious Golf Invitational, the last competition of the season, in Dubai for the second time at the Els Club. These events give serious collectors of Audemars Piguet a chance to play alongside their golfing heroes. It also gives Audemars Piguest a chance to showcase its latest timepieces, for example the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in Yellow Gold was debuted at the Dubai event, before an official launch at SIHH.
“For us, this was the ideal opportunity to showcase our Geometry of Time, merging classical with contemporary, and highlighting our Savoir-Faire,” added Bennahmias.
Alongside the showcase of new products at these exclusive events, guests are often given masterclasses in elements of their game – such as at the Audemars Piguet Golf Trophy at the Liberty National Golf Course in the United States last year. Sir Nick Faldo, another longtime Audemars Piguet player, Ian Poulter and Bud Caudley held teaching clinics advising guests on how to up their putting green game – a true money can’t buy experience for those that love golf.
So who’s on the brand’s golf dream team? It selects those players who personify its mantra, ‘to break the rules, you first have to master them’ – those players who command attention on the green for their daring, their commitment to their sport or their undoubtable achievements – all made possible by their mastery of the game.
Henrik Stevenson has been a member since 2014, the ‘Iceman’ Swede maintains a precise grasp both on his irons and on his wins. Other golfing heroes include Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.
But Audemars Piguet doesn’t just work with the established champions. The brand actively engages with the newer stars of golf, such as Bernd Wiesberger, who in 2104 became the first ever Austrian to play in the US Open. He himself is a watch fanatic and wears an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak chronograph. Byeong Hun An was named ‘Rookie of the Year’ last year on the European Tour, the future is bright for this young South Korean. Relative new kid on the block, British golfer, Danny Willett also is an Audemars Piguet man – he reached third place at the WGC Matchplay in San Francisco last year.
Danny Willett has proven to be a good bet. He recently won his first major championship at Augusta National in April 2016, the first of the season – beating fellow Audemars Piguet ambassador, Lee Westwood. Now ranked number nine in the world, his watch of choise is a Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph.
Audemars Piguet CEO Francois-Henry Bennahmias told Worldwide Golf, that he looks for ‘characters’ to join his dream team. This ex-professional golfer turned CEO meets with them personally to make sure they have other interests outside golf as well as being great on the fairway.
And each year the CEO and brand’s dream team is growing stronger. This year, alongside Byeong Huan An, two more golfers have joined the prestigious ranks. Argentine Emiliano Grillo has incredible drive and passion and joined the PGA Tour last October. Then there’s 18 year old Renato Paratore – last year he became the first player ever to score a four on each one of the 18 holes on the French Open. An impressive feat for anyone let alone one so young. No wonder Audemars Piguet snapped him up to join their team.
It’s not often you find a brand so dedicated to a different industry other than their own, but with the synergy between golf and watchmaking and a clientele who often love both, it would seem Audemars Piguet has scored a hole in one.
It’s not just for golfers…
But let’s not forget this isn’t a brand just for golfers. Big hitters away from the fairway have a special place in their heart for this dedicated and deeply innovative brand – celebrities from Jay Z (Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore) and Usher (Audemars Piguet Royal Oak) to Tom Cruise (Audemars Piguet chronograph), all love this brand. And it’s not above doing unique collaborations with huge stars, such as the Audemars Piguet Chronographe Royal Oak Offshore Michael Schumacher.