Audemars Piguet & Co., Le Brassus for Touchon & Co., Geneva. No. 16,505, ca. 1913.
An especially fine extra-thin rhodium plated Lepine watch.
The firm of Audemars, Piguet & Co. was originally formed as a partnership in 1875 between Jules Audemars-Renaud and Edward-August Piguet, both movement finishers in the Swiss town of Le Brassus. The partnership became official on the 17th of December 1881. In the partnership Jules Audemars, a finisher of complicated watches, brought on 18 completed complicated watches as the founding watch inventory of the company. Edward Piguet, in turn, provided cash capital of 10,000 Swiss Francs. Jules Audemars-Renaud, was the great-grandson of Jules Audemars, the brother of the famous watchmaker Louis Audemars. This latter was the founder of the highly regarded watch manufacture of Louis Audemars (founded in 1811). The watches that Jules Audemars-Renaud brought to the Audemars-Piguet company were, from photographic evidence, items that were to be sold to the firm of Louis Audemars. At the time of Audemars-Piguet’s founding, the old firm of Louis Audemars was faltering, and by the early 1880s had closed its activity. Jules Audemars worked for the firm of Louis Audemars, and most probably saw the opportunity to continue offering highly complicated watches. In the first 40 years of the company’s existence, Audemars, Piguet & Co. finished and sold many watches to third parties who would commission their name to be engraved on the movement. Cartier, Gubelin, Bittmann, and Touchon, among many other European and American retailers (such as Tiffany & Co.), were some of the clients which purchased Audemars Piguet watches to be sold with their own names engraved on the watch and dial. In the later 1920s the marketing strategy of Audemars Piguet changed and, excepting Gubelin, they tended to sell their watches almost exclusively with their own logo.
Touchon & Co., is a Geneva based retailer of high-grade watches. They were founded ca. 1907 with the expressed purpose of selling high quality timepieces to the American market. Nearly 100% of Touchon timepieces are to be found as originally sold in the United States. The illustrative site ‘Touchon-Watch.com’ contains some erroneous information. Principally, in failing to understand the role of established brands, such as Audemars Piguet, in the supply chain of watch retailers. During it’s early years, approximately until the early 1920s Touchon & Co. of Geneva purchased high-grade watches from Audemars Piguet to resell as their own branded watches. At some point in the early 1920s, Touchon worked with the same ebauche supplier which furnished Audemars Piguets pieces (i.e., Louis Elisee Piguet et Fils –LEP) to manufacture their own caliber. After the manufacture of approximately 2000 pieces, the firm of Touchon & Co., was purchased by Wittnauer & Co. At that point the stock of Touchon pieces manufactured by LEP was co-stamped with Wittnauer’s signature (along with Touchon). Then new ebauches where developed, and finally before the closure of the Touchon brand, Wittnauer ebauches were signed with the Touchon logo. The current movement, dating from 1913 belongs to the first years of Touchon & Co. when they were supplied with finished movements by Audemars, Piguet & Co.
Movement: An exquisite 10 size (ca. 38mm diameter) 18-jewel movement with a thickness of 2.8mm (excluding hour/minute post). Rhodium plated 7-bridge movement, with broad cotes de Geneve. Main plate applied with perlage of diminishing sizes to accomodate wheel recesses. Large and deep red ruby jewels, with concave highly-polished countersinks. All screws with beveled edges and slots. All screw heads are adorned with angled countersinks. Mainspring barrel click of short kind, typical of 1910-1290s Audemars Piguet pocket watches. All steel parts mirror polished.
Escapement: Straight-line Swiss anchor escapement. Anchor highly polished, and hand-beveled on all sides. Escape wheel with polished teeth. Bi-metallic balance wheel of a thin and delicate construction, with gold balance weights. Exquisite angled double roller, with beveled angles and highly-polished surface.
Keyless winding: Swiss keyless consisting of setting lever, castle wheel yoke lever, and winding pinion retaining spring. All parts satin brush finish with highly polished bevels. Intermediate gears for time setting with a solid steel plate. Intermediate gears with concave mirror finish. Minute and hour wheels brushed circular finish.
Train: Solid brass gold-gilded gear train, with hand finished highly polished steel pinions. Solid steel escape wheel.
Jewels: 18 jewels – balance work (5), escape lever (4), escape wheel (4), fourth wheel (2), third wheel (2), center wheel (1).
Coggiola Watch Roma Wristwatch Case, Buckle & Restoration Work:
Bespoke case, originally conceived as a rectangular. During manufacture, the design was changed to barrel shape evocative of Gerald Genta's most famous design for Audemars Piguet.
Hand manufactured case and parts in Rome, Italy:
Case: Solid two-piece stainless case. Screw-on bezel. Top and bottom surfaces matte ground finish, sides and bevels straight grained satin finish. Crown with grip finished in matte ground finish, interrupted by eight indentations, outer portion also finished with alternating matte ground finish and satin. Crown fits onto crown tube on case.
Domed front and flat back sapphire crystals. Hidden Hytrel gasket in front bezel. Back crystal cemented.
Dial: Round open work dial, integrated sub-seconds chapter, one-piece solid stainless steel. No enamel applied.
Hands: Hours, Minutes and second's hands each two-piece baton hands, spring steel. Top surface matte ground finish similar to case, with raw bevel. Hours and minutes hands terminating in three-angled surfaces.
Buckle: Stainless steel, four-piece buckle. Top surface finished in hand ground matte finish as case, sides straight grained satin finish.
Diameter, without crown: 41.3 mm.
Lug to lug: 45.2 mm.
Height Total (without crystal): 7mm (7.7 mm with crystal). Height of body 4.3mm.
Strap: 22mm width. Length: Normal. Hand-made Italian leather strap.
Restoration Work: Overall in very good condition, minor work done. The movement had significant tarnishing, plates, bridges, etc., all cleaned. Some pivots received burnishing. Maltese cross arbor stop replaced. Hairspring was originally bent, and this was adjusted. Canon pinion adjusted to prevent slippage. Overall cleaning and timing.