In-Depth: The Audemars Piguet Carolina Bucci Special Edition Frosted Gold Royal Oak
The limited edition timepiece features a mirrored dial, marking a departure from the classic Royal Oak tapisserie dial. Watchonista takes a hands-on look and interviews Carolina Bucci about this special piece.
Audemars Piguet is once again collaborating with jeweler Carolina Bucci for the Frosted Gold collection, following the huge success the first Frosted Gold collection introduced in 2016. Audemars Piguet celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak ladies collection with Bucci’s Frosted Gold, featuring her signature Florentine textured finish.
While Bucci designed her first collection for women, Audemars Piguet did not forget about the men. Last year the brand produced a masculine, 41mm version. And now in 2018, the brand is launching a limited-edition ladies watch with a mirror dial, marking a distinct departure from the signature tapisserie dial. Just 300 pieces will be made of this groundbreaking design, available only Bucci’s favorite 18K yellow gold (prior Frosted Gold watches were available in white and rose gold only). The individually-numbered watches will be available for sale at Audemars Piguet boutiques and Bucci’s flagship boutique in London.
Carolina Bucci’s inspiration
Bucci is the 4th generation to run her family-owned jewelry company that was founded in 1885, just 10 years after Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet founded Audemars Piguet. She has a personal collection of several watches, many of which are gifts from her husband. My husband “likes to buy me something nice for major birthdays and anniversaries,” she said. “I make my own jewelry, so that is not possible [for him to buy].” Her husband wanted to buy her a watch for her 35th birthday and asked her to pick it out. “I already had quite a few watches,” Bucci recalled. “I was trying to find one that was special to me.”
As it turned out, the watch came to her. “I spotted a woman walking on 57th Street on the other side of the street, and I was immediately drawn to her watch,” Bucci said. “I followed her, trying to catch up, all the way into Bergdorf Goodman! She was wearing a yellow gold 36mm Royal Oak. I went straight to the Audemars Piguet boutique to buy one, but they no longer produced the exact watch. Fortunately, my husband was able to locate one and gave it to me. I’ve worn it almost every day since. It goes very well with whatever jewelry I’m wearing and it can be casual. I can wear it with anything.”
A meeting of mutual friends
When a mutual friend happened to introduce Bucci to Audemars Piguet’s CEO, Francois-Henry Bennahmias, a friendly discussion followed, and he invited her to the Audemars Piguet manufacture in Le Brassus. Bennahmias showed her some women’s pieces, Bucci recalled, “I was not drawn to any of them. I told him that I can make a better version for women.” Bennahmias took her up on the challenge.
And so the journey began. “We were small, they were big, we were Italian, they were Swiss,” said Bucci. "We had never made a watch before, they had been making them since 1875. “I was never planning to modify the design of the watch itself,” she said. “Mr Gerald Genta designed it, and it’s perfect.” Bucci’s plan was to modify the surface of the gold instead, with her signature Florentine finish. In Bucci’s view “both of our companies have an appreciation of trade and craft, but I believe we are both most interested in moving forward.”
Producing the Carolina Bucci Frosted Gold Royal Oak
To make the first prototype, Audemars Piguet “sent me all of the pieces of the watch disassembled, and I applied the Florentine finish all over,” she said. When Audemars Piguet reassembled the watch, it was too rough at first, “it needed to be visually perfect,” she said. The watch went back and forth to her “about seven times,” before the final version was approved. The watches are powered by the calibre 3120 movement, feature a sapphire crystal caseback, and are signed Limited Edition Carolina Bucci.
A Dream Watch
“It’s my new dream watch, it represents the contemporary woman,” Bucci said. “Endless reflections capture who you are and what you are doing in that moment. It can work for every woman.”
Jasmine Audemars, Chairwoman of Audemars Piguet’s Board of Directors, has been wearing the self-winding first edition Frosted Gold since 2016, according to the brand. “The creativity behind the Frosted Gold watch is simply amazing,” she said in a statement. “It is both art and a very high level of technology. With Carolina Bucci, we created a kind of masterpiece. It’s unique and fun. Who needs a selfie when you can look at yourself in your watch?”
(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)