Audemars Piguet to boost watch production as Patek Philippe retires 5711 Nautilus

The company expects to make 50,000 watches this year, up from 45,000 sold in 2021

Royal Oak models are pictured on the Audemars Piguet stand at the "Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie" (SIHH) watch fair, in Geneva, Switzerland January 15, 2018. Picture taken January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
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Audemars Piguet, the luxury Swiss watch maker best known for its Royal Oak model, will increase production in 2022 as sales levels approach those of rival Patek Philippe.

The company expects to make 50,000 watches this year, up from 45,000 sold in 2021, it said in an emailed response to questions. Revenue rose by about a third to 1.5 billion francs ($1.6 billion) last year, it said.

Deep-pocketed buyers who saved cash by cancelling travel plans during the coronavirus pandemic have been driving a rebound in sales of high-end Swiss timepieces. Family-owned and controlled, the nearly 150-year-old Audemars Piguet is one of the three biggest independent Swiss watch brands, along with Patek Philippe and Rolex.

FILE PHOTO: A salesman displays a high-end watch in an Audemars Piguet boutique in Moda Mall, Manama, Bahrain, January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo

Patek garnered sales of about 1.6 billion francs last year, Bank Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy said. That is up from an estimated 1.2 billion francs in 2020. Patek itself does not publish revenue figures and neither does Rolex.

Audemars Piguet, based in Le Brassus in the Vaud canton near Geneva, was the sixth-largest Swiss watch maker in 2020 by revenue, according to a report by Morgan Stanley.

The company said last year it would stop producing its popular Royal Oak Reference 15202ST and replace the steel watch with a new model. That followed Patek saying it would stop producing the Nautilus Reference 5711, its most sought-after steel watch.

Hopeful buyers of both models had been subjected to long waiting lists and soaring values in the second-hand market that only increased with news that production is to end.

A handout photo of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in 18k gold, dated early 1980s, which features a tropical dial with the engraving ‘Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’ (in Arabic characters). (Courtesy: Christie's Images) *** Local Caption ***  AL19SE-CROWNS-AUDEMARS.JPG
Updated: February 03, 2022, 4:08 AM