It was a classic case of having too much work and not enough time to do it that led to Jules-Louis Audemars teaming up with Edward Piguet. Audemars hired Piguet to cope with increased demand for his highly complicated watches, a passion Piguet shared.
The two became friends and, in 1875, established their own brand in Le Brassus, where Audemars Piguet remains today producing about 40,000 watches a year. Complicated watches are still a speciality, thanks in part to having renowned movement makers Renaud et Papi as an AP subsidiary, but the brand is best known for kickstarting the luxury steel watch trend with the launch, in 1972, of the Gerald Genta-designed Royal Oak.
There have been other iterations, such as the Royal Oak Offshore, and models featuring perpetual calendars and chronograph functions but the straight-up two-hand Royal Oak remains Audemars Piguet’s iconic calling card.
What does it take to become champ? Iron discipline, a killer instinct and, of course, timing. Whether it’s the rhythm of your moves inside the ring, the punishing hours you put into training or the precise moment you decide to unleash a flurry of knockout blows, perfect timing is the difference between victory and defeat.
Watches are important to boxers as status symbols. A jewel-encrusted design as thick as a hockey puck ranks alongside a title belt as one of the spoils of victory – check out the insanely blinged-out collection belonging to the controversial pugilist boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather.
Anthony Joshua, the most popular British sportsman since David Beckham, is an altogether smoother proposition. In his youth, he too dabbled in buss-down bling and nightclubs. It was an older, more knowledgeable friend who took him to one side and put him on to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, which he wears now almost exclusively.
Released in 1972 and designed by the great Gerald Genta, the Royal Oak was a totally revolutionary concept in the world of fine watches. Its octagonal watch case and steel bracelet were conceived of as a single, integrated whole, whereas before they were always considered separate.
The screws proudly displayed on the case were inspired by deep sea diving helmets and an early example of pared-back, industrial chic. One of the great pleasures of owning a Royal Oak is to simply rotate your wrist and watch how the light bounces off the beveled and chamfered links: it looks as though you have pure, unalloyed brilliance strapped to your wrist.
As happy on the back of a yacht as at a black-tie dinner, the Royal Oak, despite its very specific design, manages to be both functionally sporty and classically elegant. Which pretty much sums up both the fighting style and personality of Britain’s heavyweight champ. A man who can stick to a tactically astute game plan and win on points, as he did last Saturday against Andy Ruiz Jr, but can also deliver show stopping knockout blows, which is sometimes known as “cleaning out your clock”.
What’s more, AJ never indulges in the vulgar trash talk at press conferences that defines boxing today. He insists on treating his opponents with the utmost respect and is a man who believes in the nobility of boxing.
Look closely, and you’ll see that sometimes at press conferences his pink-gold Royal Oak Offshore seems to be telling the time slightly late. That’s because he deliberately sets his watch 20 minutes ahead so as to never be late for an appointment. Whether in or outside of the ring, for AJ, life is all about timing.