Meet the man who spends nearly a thousand hours hand crafting one superb Audemars Piguet timepiece. His name is Dominique Burdet and in his haute horlogerie workshop at Audemars Piguet’s Le Brassus factory, this master watchmaker and his team create the highly complicated mechanisms for the brand’s Grand Complications – complete with minute repeaters.
A low-pitched bell for each hour, two slightly differently pitched bells for the quarter- and half- hour, and a single higher-pitched bell for each minute of the final quarter hour. These are the sounds that ring out on demand from the heart of Audemars Piguet’s complex repeaters.
“We produce the Jules Audemars and Royal Oak minute repeaters, as well as a pocket model. Each watch requires between 700 and 1,000 hours of work, which means we rarely make more than three per year and per watchmaker,” says Burdet, who has worked for the brand in the Vallée de Joux for almost 20 years.
The making of such a complex movement is extremely delicate and precise work. Hundreds of tiny components comprise the finished caliber, and each is assembled one by one. The slightest error would have big repercussions on the melody. This is high-precision hand workmanship. “To create a beautiful sound, you need a lot of experience. The watch is patiently tuned, like a musical instrument, and must always strike the correct number of times,” says Burdet.This time-consuming work results in a watch that is truly music to the ears. But these pieces command tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and utmost patience. Some, such as the pocket watch, have a waiting list.