5 February 2024


By In Audemars Piguet, General

The role that Italy had in the past century in the watchmaking industry is second to none and Italy is the country where watch-collecting was basically created. Looking at its heritage, it is no surprise that some of the best design, nicknames of important vintage watches, retailers and also watchmakers were all born in the “Bel Paese”, and therefore also some of the best watch collections in the world are located there. Twice a year enthusiasts have the chance to meet all these market insiders in Vicenza, a city well known globally for its relationship with the gold and jewelry sector, at the VicenzaOro Fair, where one floor is completely dedicated to watches and people not only can buy & sell their timepieces to many important traders, but they can also listen to talks and conferences held by significant people of the industry.
In this article we will talk about some interesting topics deepened in the events we had the opportunity to participate in.

Giulio Papi and its philosophy

The first talk we attended was held by Mr. Giulio Papi, one of the most incredible watchmakers of our time, and currently the Technical Director at Audemars Piguet. The main topic of the conference was the analysis of the recent record breaking AP Grande Complication Universelle released last year that was also awarded with the Aiguille D’Or, the prize given by GPHG every year to the most incredible watch released. During the time at his disposal, he managed to describe not only all the technical innovations of the watch, characterized by 23 different complications and 17 technical devices, but also to convey to the numerous audience the philosophy and ingenuity behind one of the brightest minds of our time.

Giulio papi Technical Director at Audemars Piguet insude Audemars Piguet boutique
Giulio Papi – Photo courtesy of Hodinkee

His approach to watchmaking resulted to be quite revolutionary and it has never been focused on reaching incredible targets for its own sake. Nevertheless, he dedicated great attention to the concept of ergonomy and how complications and functions can be combined to be used in a simple, intuitive and reliable way, exploiting the engineering approach and all the modern design techniques. The result of its philosophy can be clearly seen through the new Code 11.59 Complication Universelle that is enjoyable on the wrist depsite the huge number of functions and complications available.

Another aspect that he considers essential while designing a watch is that the owner could read all the different indications easily, something that most of the other complicated watches on the market are still today far to show. For all of us, this was a unique possibility to discover what is behind the mind of a genius, something that is not easy to experience everyday.

Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle (RD#4) ref. 26398BC with white dial
Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle (RD#4) ref. 26398BC – Photo courtesy of AP

The point of view of Italian dealers

The interesting conferences at VicenzaOro don’t concern only the approach of watchmakers, like Giulio Papi, who invent incredible timepieces, but they also have a particular focus on the secondary market, as this fair gathers some the most important Italian dealers and resellers. During Sunday morning, some of them sat and talked about topics and issues of the watch market, therefore it’s no surprise that one of the key topics treated was related to the safety of wearing watches in public places and how the demand towards important timepieces is affected by this negative trend. Large cities like London or Milan are often at the center of the news regarding thefts and assaults targeting people wearing luxury watches. Authorities are obviously trying to fight this phenomenon but the reasults are not satisfactory enough, resulting in people not wearing anymore their beloved watches since they are scared to be assoulted. Getting into details, all the dealers agree that this problem affected also the market of sought-after vintage watches, and to solve it they are trying to offer insurances to reassure buyers, although large insurance companies still need to implement policies strictly related to luxury accessories.

Another interesting point discussed during the conference is about the trends foreseen for 2024. Being the demand towards high end timepieces still considerably high despite the huge drop of the last 18 months, the second hand traders expect that we will not witness huge changes this year compared to 2023. The most sought after models will still remain steel sport watches, especially for the three main brands of th market: Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. On the toher hand, talking about high quality vintage end high complicated watches, the experts agreed that they will probably maintain their rising trend since they are harder and harder to find. Similarly, the well known independent brands will follow the same way as they are produced in little series and consequently their price will increase during the year.

In conclusion, events like VicenzaOro offer a unique opportunity for enthusiasts interested in both the technical aspects of watchmaking and the exploration of quality pieces while analyzing potential future trends. VicenzaOro Fair not only celebrates the craftsmanship and innovation synonymous with Italian watchmaking but also provides a fertile ground for exploration, education, and anticipation of the evolving landscape of horology.

A special thank to the entire VicenzaOro team and the collectors club Forchette & Lancette for the great days spent together.

Written by Tiziano Patti

Born in 2002, I’m a young watch collector and enthusiast always looking to add new pieces to my collection.