Rolex vs. Audemars Piguet: Which is the Better Luxury Watch Brand?
Competition has driven brands over the years to do better. This is mainly because consumers’ tastes keep evolving, and due to this, rival brands keep trying to outdo one another. The luxury watch industry has not been exempted from comparison and competition.
This has helped fuel the exponential development that has characterized the industry over the years. Two of the most compared brands in the luxury watch world are Rolex and Audemars Piguet.
At our Exquisite Timepieces office in Naples and on our website, some of the most common questions we get are about the similarities, differences, and superiority of these two brands over each other.
These questions boil down to one in particular – Rolex vs. Audemars Piguet: which is the better luxury watch brand? This article will tactfully answer this question under several subheadings and clear your speculations about these brands once and for all.
History and Heritage
Let us consider the history of Rolex vs. Audemars Piguet. Both brands were born out of their founders’ dreams, and the rich cultural background of these brands is one of the reasons they are still here today.
Rolex made its debut in the luxury watch world in 1905 when Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis started a company called Wilsdorf and Davis in London in 1905. Subsequently, the company name was changed to Rolex in 1908, and then later to Rolex Watch Co. LTD. in 1915.
For years, they manufactured pocket watches for their clientele in London until the harsh effect of World War I made the founders relocate the company to Geneva, Switzerland.
Hans Wilsdorf reregistered the company as Montres Rolex SA in 1920. Since then, Rolex has come to stay, and they are on the top of the food chain in the world luxury timepieces.
The history of Audemars Piguet is quite similar to that of Rolex. The brand’s journey began when childhood friends Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet met again in the year 1874. Both men were experienced watchmakers, so a partnership began almost immediately.
In comparing Rolex vs. Audemars Piguet’s histories, we see that both brands come from a place of deep historical background.
Audemars Piguet is older than Rolex, but this doesn’t downplay the latter’s status in any way. The fact that the founding families still own both brands has enabled them to continue their founders’ unique vision.
Brand recognition is essential in determining the strength of any brand. Without mincing words, Rolex is a popular and recognized brand. It is the brand that readily comes to mind when luxury watches are mentioned.
The brand has impacted the world of sports like golf, tennis, motorsport, and sailing. Watches made by the brand have also been featured in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.
Rolex played a significant role in the first James Bond film and also in Argo. Celebrities like John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, and Roger Federer are some of the notable figures to have had worn a Rolex watch.
It’s no surprise that Rolex makes billions from watch sales yearly. Its influence in the luxury watch world is highly recognized.
Audemars Piguet may not be well known to the common man, but it is quite popular among luxury watch experts and even users. It is referred to as one of the top three luxury watch brands globally; Rolex isn’t in the top three.
If we consider pop culture, Audemars Piguet has had its fair share of notice, appearing in movies such as End of Days and Quick Change. Jay Z, Justin Beiber, Kelvin Hart, and Denzel Washington are some of the celebrities who own an Audemars Piguet watch.
However, if we are to conclude in general terms, Rolex wins the battle of popularity and recognition between the two brands.
Design and Craftsmanship
Audemars Piguet and Rolex have been producing watches for more than a century. Both brands are highly focused on their design and craftsmanship.
While Rolex is more concerned about accuracy and precision, Audemars Piguet prides itself on attention to details and finishing that Rolex hasn’t replicated yet.
Regardless, Rolex has its pros in design and craftsmanship, too. Rolex subjects all its watches to extreme conditions to ensure their durability and subsequent longevity. These conditions are so harsh that it is believed that humans can’t survive in them.
Little wonder why Rolexes are recovered from sites of plane crashes and demolition. In order words, a Rolex would most likely outlive its owner.
Who wins the battle of craftsmanship and design between Rolex vs. Audemars Piguet? This question does have a straight answer. Rolex has the advantage of the watch’s external durability, but Audemars Piguet wins when the finesse of the inner working mechanism is considered. Their attention to detail and the complex nature of their calibers are beyond what Rolex has achieved.
Precision and Accuracy
The accuracy of a watch is probably the most important quality it possesses. Rolex have always been keen on their watches’ accuracy, and they have never been shy about publicizing this fact.
The COSC has standards that watches must adhere to, but Rolex beats this standard by far. Rolex watches are impressively accurate to a -2/+2 seconds per day.
The accuracy of an Audemars Piguet watch is subject to quite a few factors. The movement caliber, the duration of servicing, the intensity of activity performed by its wearer, and the watch’s model contribute to its accuracy.
This isn’t to say the Audemars Piguet doesn’t make accurate watches. All their watches pass the COSC test of accuracy, but they are not as accurate as the standard set by Rolex.
Price and Resale Value
Rolex makes more watches than Audemars Piguet. In economics, it is said that prices drop if there is a higher supply. This is true for the difference in the prices of these two brands.
Audemars Piguet watches are generally exclusive, and as such, more expensive than Rolexes. Furthermore, Rolex watches are the most counterfeited in the world. This contributes to why it is cheaper than Audemars.
As mentioned earlier, watches often outlive their owners. Sometimes, they go on to become family heirlooms. Does the value appreciate or depreciates? This question brings us to the topic of resale value.
Generally, the age of a watch, its quality, and the watch’s history are some of the qualities that affect its resale value. Rolex is known to hold its value as it ages, and on some occasions, it appreciates exponentially in value. Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona was once auctioned for $17.8 million.
Audemars Piguet also holds their value after purchase, and depending on the model, their resale value could also increase to a very high level. However, Rolex holds its value a little higher than Audemars Piguet due to its popularity.
Rolex generally offers a five-year warranty for their watches, while Audemars Piguet offers the industry standard of two years.
Both Rolex and Audemars Piguet are wonderful luxury watch brands. Determining which brand’s product to buy will depend on individual preferences and the product’s intended use.
However, a winner must emerge in our comparison between Rolex vs. Audemars Piguet. Based on our analysis at Exquisite Timepieces, Audemars Piguet is a slightly better luxury watch brand than Rolex.