Interview With Austen Chu, aka Horoloupe, The First Watch Collector To Collaborate With Audemars Piguet
Watch brands often collaborate with retailers or publications in the creation of an exclusive limited-edition timepiece, but it is rare they partner with a collector. Watchonista talks to the man who changed all this.
Austen Chu talks to Watchonista’s Alexander Friedman about his collaboration with Audemars Piguet, the exclusive timepiece they have created together, the charity this timepiece will benefit, and his love for the brand.
Watchonista: You’re in very rare company with this collaboration, how did this come to be?
Austen Chu: Yes, it’s a first for the brand to collaborate with a collector, and I’m absolutely humbled and blessed to have had this opportunity to do something amazing with my favorite brand. The idea started through a conversation between François [François-Henri Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet] and I in late 2018, and I was asking if they had any plans to do anything special for the Chinese market in terms of a limited edition. He said they currently did not have any plans, and I asked if I could propose something for us to do together for China. The rest is history.
Have you always been a fan of AP? If so, what turned you on to the brand and what pieces do you have in your collection?
Yes, I have. My first luxury watch in the traditional holy trinity was an Audemars Piguet 15400ST, and I was immediately hooked. I did purchase timepieces from other brands after my first AP, including timepieces from brands such as Richard Mille, Patek, Rolex, Nomos, etc. However, at the end of the day, I was still drawn to AP the most.
My collection went full circle and my collection is now predominantly AP. A few notable AP pieces in my collection now are, but are not limited to, the baby blue self-winding Royal Oak concept, the Royal Oak RD2, a 5402ST A Series, the openworked black ceramic perpetual, the 15202IP, and the China Limited Edition, of course! [Chu smiles mischievously]
One of the most important aspects of this limited edition is that a portion of the proceeds is for a good cause, could you tell us more?
Yes, I thought it was extremely important, and now more relevant than ever, to donate a portion of proceeds to charity. Piece number one out of 88 was auctioned off, with 100% of the proceeds going towards environmental relief in China. The charity that we donated the money to was IUCN, contributing to a project called Fostering Ownership for Restoring Ecosystem Services of Forest Landscapes of the Miyun Watershed in China.
This project will take place in Hebei and Beijing, starting in February 2020, for a duration of two years. I think now, more than ever, the environment should be a priority for everyone, and that everyone should try to play their own part in making the world a more sustainable place for future generations.
Finally, this piece proves the importance of the Chinese market. But as a person present on the scene, how does China differentiate from other markets?
I think China is a very different market in many senses. I believe that Chinese consumers learn extremely rapidly and that their tastes change a lot quicker than most regions. I would say that in terms of consumer taste and demand, what would last five years in the west would only last about one year here.
I think celebrity endorsements and ambassadors work extremely well in china compared to lots of foreign countries. Bear in mind, China is still a developing economy, and they learn really quick.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar China Limited Edition
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition with Austen Chu comes in a 41mm full titanium case, a first for the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar collection. At only 104 grams, the use of titanium makes it extremely light and comfortable on the wrist.
It features an elegant gray dial with subtle accents in red and comes with three strap options: an integrated titanium bracelet, a gray alligator strap, and a red rubber strap. Limited to 88 pieces, this exclusive timepiece will only be available in boutiques in China. The retail price is $78,300 USD.