Audemars Piguet is continuing its roll outs of AP Houses around the world, with the concept arriving in Tokyo, Milan and New York this year.
AP Houses are spaces designed to look like 5-star hotel lounges, with bars, dining rooms and relaxed living rooms (as seen in the Hong Kong AP House above).
The idea is to create a social scene around people’s passion for fine watches, with sales agreed (or not) after a casual conversation on a couch.
They do not have traditional on-street store frontage.
In the case of AP House London (pictured below), it is located on the first floor of a building on Bond Street, the city’s premium luxury shopping destination, with only a small plaque and flag notifying customers there is a place to buy watches upstairs.
AP is keen to continue with the global roll out, not least because it is working spectacularly well, according to CEO François-Henry Bennahmias. “Customers spend three to four times more in AP Houses,” he says in an online Q&A with his head of complications Michael Friedman.
Margins are also better since AP does not have to share the profit of any sale with an authorized dealer or franchise partner.
In the same interview, the executives are asked what to expect from the recently announced partnership with Marvel.
The agreement is limited to comic book characters, and does not include appearances for Audemars Piguet watches in Marvel movies.
The first watch from the partnership is being revealed on April 10 and, with 6,000 comic book characters that could be the inspiration for new timepieces, it is anybody’s guess what will be launched.
The only clue AP gives in the Q&A is that it will not be any sort of Iron Man watch.
Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Bennahmias says that AP has no immediate plans to accept bitcoin as payment for its watches, but he would not close the door on anything. “The day will come when we accept cryptocurrencies, we just cannot say when,” he adds.
He clarified that the watches unveiled in March were considered by the company to be the first of two seasonal launches, and that there will be more ladies watches introduced at a second drop in September and also a third AP Research & Development piece, RD#3, which is likely to have collectors twitching.
Mr Friedman also updated news on AP’s stated intention to create a robust system for buying and selling certified preowned watches.
He says that a pilot project in Switzerland had progressed well and Japan was also being used as a test market. AP is looking at an additional pilot beginning in New York later this year.
Given the fact that an AP House is expected to open before the year end, or early in 2022, it is likely the two are linked.