Audemars Piguet always has been one of my favourite brands, especially their Royal Oak line make my horological heart tick faster. Since a year or so, I am the proud owner of a Royal Oak watch. The Royal Oak Date (ref.15300ST) at first, then after six months, followed by the ‘Jumbo’ cult icon (ref.15202ST).

The Royal Oak Off-shore Safari is on my wish list as well, as I am impressed by this time piece ever since I had the chance to review one from one of my sponsors. AP seems to enjoy the success of their popular RO and RO Off-shore a lot, organizing release parties with the rich and famous, sponsoring all kinds of events and charities and having a few rapping and acting ambassadors.

Although I don’t think there is anything wrong with that strategy, there is something wrong with the supposedly superb service that buyers of AP time pieces deserve, or, as I would like to put it, “haute service”.

A few examples from first hand: polishing an octagonal bezel to a round bezel, needing 10 weeks for regulating a movement and delivering it back with a dust pickle under the dial and even worse, there is this example of AP losing a watch from a customer. Of course, they replaced it with a new one but what if there was a personal engraving in the case back? Goner. AP charges serious prices for servicing a time piece, customers should therefore receive the best work possible.

My suggestion to AP is to skip a few release parties or drop an ambassador and invest in proper quality control before a repaired or serviced watch leaves their factory. Unfortunately, AP is not the only manufacturer that suffers from lack of “haute service”. There are numerous examples from first hand that include brands like Omega, Jaeger-LeCoultre and a few smaller ones. I have to admit that in the end, most problems are solved, but it shouldn’t have come so far in the first place.

To be honest, the only brand that I would be totally comfortable with performing a repair or service overhaul, is the giant from Geneva, Rolex SA.

  • Karel

    It’s interesting that you just put op this post, since my AP is currently at Juwelier Pijnenburg, because I want them to order an extra link for the bracelet, since I feel the bracelet is just too tight for me as it is.
    Extra links are nowhere to be found for my ref no. in Holland, so they will contact AP in Switzerland. Unfortunately, as the saleslady from Pijnenburg informed me, the AP factory is closed untill the 3rd week of August. I guess I will have to wait for a while. But that’s understandable.

    The lack of quality at services you post suprises me, because I once read that AP has all the parts in stock of every model made dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. They have all of these archived. I’m not sure if other brands do the same, but I did found it interesting. Now let’s just hope that they have my link in stock too 😉

  • @Karel: Good that you comment, now I remember I have to send you something tomorrow morning (first thing) 🙂

    Good to read that you still have your AP. AP in Switzerland probably have them in stock, as you wrote. However, be glad that you don’t have to send your watch to them in Switzerland.. 😉

    All examples in my post are out of first hand (or my own, unfortunately) btw. However, I hope that they will help you out with your missing link 😉


  • RJ,
    The answer is simple. We just need to open up our own high quality service. The brands seem to be too “busy” with other stuff.

  • Pascal O. Ravessoud

    Dear RJ,

    Seems that your article is sadly matching the numerous comments I receive from watch fans all around the world about brands that I am feared to mention here…

    I hope there will be a time where HH brands finally understand that selling is a good thing, but for a very high added-value product, a slight part of the high margin these products generate shall be employed at improving the customer service and after-sales service, because this is absolutely destroying their image on the long term..!

  • @ Ariel Adams:

    That would be a good idea, and in fact that was how it ever was. However the HH brands decided not to supply the necessary spare parts to carry out that quality service to anyone.

    That is were the trouble started in my opinion. Now they have not enough capacity to carry out all the ‘service’ (read repairs) them selfs.

    Besides that there doesn’t exist any competition anymore, so the HH brands can ask for their ‘service’ what they want. And that’s exactly what they do. Rolex is with € 500,= for a regular service to one of their regular steel sports watches still quite nice to their customers, however PP is asking over € 1.000,= for a regular service of their sports watch the Nautilus already.

    For complicated watch models of HH brands, price quotes of € 4.000,= and more are nothing exceptional anymore. Neither are delivery times of 26 to 52 weeks (and more).

    So where do we file all these first-hand experiences in order to have the HH brands listening? In my opinion they have to get this right before they go on with their ever lasting exhibition of how good they are and the good feeling you will get when buying their watches. After four or five years when your watch is in need of it’s first service that good feeling will quickly evaporate with the current situation…

  • Joost

    Service is something that many brands fail to invest in…or at least they fail to put talented managers in place to run these departments professionally. My first hand experience with the watch industry is that everything is slow and cumbersome, and then service is even lower on the priority list 🙂 Honestly, compared to other industries this can be a bit of a joke.

    Still, a few months ago i offered my 60’s moonwatch for a service through my local retailer (here in Switzerland) and it came back (500 frances later) relatively quickly, looking all polished and shiny, new (plexi)glass…and with a warranty for 2 years. I felt this was exceptional value. So either a great exception….or perhaps just good old Omega that always lacks the ‘haute’ but consistently delivers the goods….