Strange move by Audemars Piguet watches ''paid off big time''

First published: 03-03-2010

In 1972, after a raft of inexpensive quartz watches flooded the market and caused the Swiss watch industry to panic, Audemars Piguet attracted many "pessimistic whispers" from the assembled crowds at a watch fair - all because of a stainless steel watch.

The newly-released Royal Oak's material - stainless steel - was seen as suicidal move, especially given that it was worth as much as a 24 carat gold Rolex, Forbes reported.

However, the Royal Oak was not the "guaranteed flop" many thought it would be, with the first one being snapped up by the shah of Iran, while Swiss and Italian consumers began buying up the remaining Royal Oaks, which were then limited to 1,000.

It added: "Six months later, instead of filing for bankruptcy, Audemars Piguet executives were lighting cigars and breaking out the champagne. They had a hit on their hands, and the watch world had a new category: luxury timepieces in stainless steel."

Audemars Piguet recently attended the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie meeting in Switzerland earlier this year, demonstrating some of its other specialist timepieces.

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