Is AP better than Rolex?

Author: Bonny

Dec. 06, 2023




Tags: Timepieces, Jewelry, Eyewear

Audemars Piguet vs Rolex

Audemars Piguet vs Rolex is one of the time tested challenges for watch lovers for nearly a century and a half. Both brands have been making stellar timepieces for over 100 years. However, AP has a slightly longer history. It had two founders: Jules Louis Audemars (1851–1918) and Edward Auguste Piguet (1853–1919). Audemars Piguet started off in the Vallée de Joux in the Jura Mountains north of Geneva, Switzerland. In this area, farmers had become long time craftsmen of timepieces in their workshops and passed these techniques down to each generation. It has been a center of high-end Swiss watchmaking for over a hundred years and the region where many horological advancements have been discovered.

Rolex, was also founded by two partners – Hans Wilsdorf (1881-1960) and his brother in law, Alfred Davis. It was named originally as Wilsdorf and Davis in London, England in 1905, but Wilsdorf eventually remarried and soon rebranded the company Rolex Watch Co. Ltd in 1915. Rolex didn’t move to Geneva until after WW1 in 1920. So, if you want to associate with the oldest watch brand, or the brand that has the longest Swiss history behind it, Audemars Piguet wins hands down in both categories.

However, Hans Wilsdorf, lived longer then both Audemars and Piguet and was able to see the Rolex brand grow tremendously as watchmaking transitioned from a pocket watch to a wristwatch. He was both able to develop new techniques and identify and acquire the rights to other patents which would be important to Rolex’s growth. Both AP and Rolex are privately owned and are not beholden to stockholders or financial analysts who may corrupt the vision of the founders with financial profiteering.

Audemars Piguet vs Rolex – Which is the Better Watch Brand?

Rolex is clearly one of the greatest brands ever created. Ranked in the top 100 brands in the world, Rolex tops nearly any Watch Brand in existence. People know Rolex in every country and proudly wear a Rolex if received or purchased for themselves. Audemars Piguet is a more of a niche brand.

Within high end fashion and horological circles AP is regarded as highly as Rolex. However, AP has always been firmly attached to the production of small series of timepieces. Rolex, by contrast, produces nearly a million timepieces a year. Although specific Rolex timepieces are selling at increasing prices due to tremendous demand, AP timepieces have a much smaller production run – sometimes as small as 50 pieces total.

Therefore the value of owning an AP may be far greater than owning a Rolex. With that said, there are a greater number of collectors that are interested in Rolex timepieces, even antique Rolex timepieces like Submariners or Daytonas made in the 1960’s and 70’s. This constant demand has created a limited supply of Rolex timepieces – in many cases surpassing the limited production run philosophy.

Both timepieces are in high demand today and it could be difficult to get your hands on the exact Rolex or AP timepiece unless you are patient or are willing to pay more than the manufacturer’s recommended price. However, if you have to decide which brand is a better brand – Rolex wins hands down.

Audemars Piguet vs Rolex – History

Both brands have an extensive history in horological triumphs. The Audemars Piguet tradition started with early miniaturization of the timepieces. They also attempted difficult complications including perpetual calendars, chronographs and chiming watches. Rolex does not attempt timepieces with astronomical cycles, chiming mechanisms, or grand complications for the most part. Although there are rare examples of these Rolex timepieces, Rolex focuses on general improvements their basic tool watches.

Audemars Piguet has always incorporated art into its fine designs and can be seen mirroring the tastes of the art designs of its day. Rolex has focused more on function. They pioneered the waterproof case, creating diver tool watches that have escapements to protect the timepiece during decompression. They developed the Daytona to be used as a tool for racecar drivers, the Yacht-Master for yacht racers, the Explorer for mountain and cavern climbers, and the Milgauss to assist scientists that deal with magnetic fields.

Rolex has its own complications that have stunned the world, creating the first Day Date timepiece in the world. The Day Date displays the day spelled out at 12 o’clock and it has the date aperture at 3 o’clock. This timepiece has been found on the wrists of presidents and great athletes around the world.

Grand Complication with split seconds and astronomical indications.

Audemars Piguet timepieces may attempt grand complications. One grand complication timepiece could take 6 to 8 months to assemble by a single watchmaker from beginning to end. Each of these timepieces is assembled with 648 components and involves tremendous adjusting, dismantling, decorating, reassembling, applying treatments and testing.

Where Audemars Piguet focuses more on grand horological traditions, Rolex has focused more on invention. Both brands design their own in-house calibres, but Rolex is more focused on the perfection of limited function timepieces rather than attempting to create a single timepiece that incorporates multiple functions.

Rolex Submariner Clasp Designed by Rolex – Pictured with Rubber B strap

The Rolex focus on perfection has led to tremendous advancements even in its strap development. The Submariner clasp allows for quick adjustments on and off the diving suit. It allows for minute adjustments and extensions when adding to the top of the dive suit. The Deep-Sea supports a depth of 12,800 feet.

If you are looking for a tool watch, Rolex is the clear winner. However if you are looking for something with an artistic freedom and fully hand crafted components, the Audemars Piguet is probably the best option.

Rolex vs Audemars Piguet – Brand Recognition

There is no doubt that if you ask a watch collector, they would know both Rolex and Audemars Piguet. In fact, if you had to create a Mount Rushmore of watch brands, both brands would definitely appear in that limited group.

However, the general population may not know the AP brand at all. Whereas the Rolex brand has widespread brand recognition. Forbes ranked Rolex as perhaps the 71st most recognizable brand in the world. AP is nowhere near Rolex. It isn’t even on the same solar system when it comes to brand recognition. This is partly due to the fact that Rolex sells so many more timepieces, generates tremendous income, and advertises and sponsors everything they can – from golf tournaments to yacht and car races, to tennis and beyond. AP is involved in high art and is starting to see a growth resurgence of its brand with connections to sports athletes like Lebron James.

However, the Rolex brand has established itself as a watch brand with great precision and a little luck for 100 years. Hans Wilsdorf saw the opportunity to connect the brand to the athlete Mercedes Gleitze who would attempt to be the first British woman to swim across the English Channel. She did so with the Oyster tight Rolex around her neck.

Wilsdorf invested in early racing – such as with the Daytona Speedway and with Sir Malcolm Campbell’s 300 mph world record. He invested several other prominent explorers, pioneers, and athletes. This tradition continued after Wilsdorf’s passing, and many ambassadors have represented the brand – such as Sean Connery, and Paul Newman among many others.

Although AP started nearly 20 years earlier than Rolex, there is no question Rolex has developed a more noteworthy brand in the time it has been around. The name itself Rolex is easy to say with only 2 syllables. It represents luxury.

Rolex vs Audemars Piguet – Craftsmanship and Quality

Both brands are highly considered the best timepieces made today. There really isn’t a way to compare either brand or give one a leg up on the other. Both brands are dedicated and committed to absolute quality and the purity of the watchmaking craft. Both brands have their own certification process that ensures that each timepiece goes through the rigorous process of testing waterproofness, accuracy, and reliability.

However, Audemars Piguet has a step up on Rolex in terms of Craftsmanship. Rolex isn’t exactly mass-produced, but craftsmen spend quite a bit less time on a Rolex than a typical AP. The AP timepiece has a more artistic flair and attention to detail that Rolex doesn’t have. Also, the intensity and commitment to grand complications is something that Rolex doesn’t even attempt. Audemars Piguet craftsman may spend half a year or more on one timepiece – assembling, disassembling, and beautifying the components. Although Rolex is no slouch and stands at equal footing on quality as AP, judging for Craftsmanship, AP gets the nod.

Rolex vs Audemars Piguet – Accuracy

Rolex has made tremendous changes over the years to increase its accuracy. It has made a point to become accurate within -2/+2 seconds per day. Audemars Piguet doesn’t advertise its accuracy or publicize its tests in the same way as Rolex. Although Quartz watches are going to be more accurate than the best made timepiece, you will be hard pressed to find a more accurate automatic timepiece than Rolex.

Rolex vs Audemars Piguet – Resale Value

This is a tough question because you have to look at several factors. For example, if you overpay for a Rolex, you may not see an increase in price for quite some time. Also, if you buy the wrong Rolex model, you may actually see a drop in price over time. However, generally Rolex garners the highest resale value of any Swiss timepiece made.

AP may surpass Rolex on a small custom run where there are only 50 timepieces made. Collectors who want unique or one-of-a-kind timepieces will drive up the prices. However, it is truly amazing how used, scratched, and old Rolexes are continuously being sold at auction for millions of dollars. Most notable was the Paul Newman Daytona timepiece that sold for 17.8 million.

AP doesn’t even crack the top 10 of the most expensive timepieces sold at auction. However, the AP timepieces do hold their value. There are 4 things that determine the price of a watch:

  1. Technology
  2. Craftsmanship
  3. Materials used
  4. Brand
  5. Age and Historical significance

The complication used in the timepiece can drive up the price. Certainly, a watch that takes a year or more to develop will generally hold its value longer than a timepiece that is mass produced. Many of the most expensive watches use a tremendous number of diamonds, rubies and other fine gemstones. Brand matters. Rolex, and Patek Philippe are two of the most sought-after brands. AP may fall into a 3rd echelon or group of timepieces sought out today by collectors.

The Paul Newman and the Bao Dai Rolex are highly significant because their connections to celebrities of importance. Paul Newman is not only a famous actor, but a charitable one, and the face of Daytona since the 1970’s. Daytonas from the 60’s and 70’s are generally fetching very high prices today, but to find one actually owned by Newman himself is a unique find indeed. Even though the timepiece was in rough shape and had an engraving on the back, it became the 7th most valuable timepiece sold, and the most expensive Rolex in history.

Rolex vs Audemars Piguet – Price

Both Brands are going to have high prices. If you want an excellent price for a watch, there are many other lower priced timepieces around which are quite well made. Even Rolex’s low priced sister company Tudor develops Rolex – looking timepieces based on the Oyster design, but at 1/3 the price of a Rolex for the equivalent functions.

Generally, AP timepieces are going to be more expensive than Rolex timepieces. Specifically the watches with grand complications may fetch up to a quarter million dollars each. Rolex does have some very gem-heavy timepieces that fetch 80k or more at market. But normal Rolex timepieces will range from around 10 – 40k each. AP timepieces will generally start around 30k and go to 250k.

Rolex will probably be a better priced timepiece for most collectors today. If you can get a highly sought after timepiece like the Submariner or Daytona for close to the Manufacturer’s retail price, you would have found a real deal. Even used Rolexes are finding their prices either holding firm or rising over time.

Which Watch Should I Invest In – Rolex or AP?

Both timepieces are going to be exceptional investments over the long run as long as you take good care of them. However, Rolex is a hot product today. In today’s climate Rolex is the better investment. Yet, it is important to understand that the market is fickle and can change on a dime. The Panerai timepiece was a hot collector’s item 20 years ago, but has since seen a tremendous drop in popularity. Could the same happen to Rolex?

Although it is unlikely that Rolex will drop in popularity especially since very populous countries such as China are starting to invest in Rolex and increasing the demand pressure and elevating prices. It is possible that other brands such as Audemars Piguet could see a big increase in collector attention. Since there are less AP timepieces to flood the market, a small spike in demand would make AP prices soar to astronomical levels.

Famous singer and watch collector John Mayer recommends investing in Rolex. Since you could get your hands on a used Rolex for under 10k, it is probably a good starting place for a beginner investor. There is less downside than investing in a 30k or greater priced timepiece and seeing a potential drop in value.

It is best to keep to the popular lines like Daytona, Submariner, GMT Master II and Yachtmaster. A man’s watch will typically hold its value more than a woman’s watch. Even women are buying men’s watches.

The only real reason to opt for the AP is if you enjoy the artistry and greater complications of these timepieces. Of course, you need to be able to afford an AP as well. Additionally, some people don’t want to wear what everyone else is wearing.

Rolex has a similar look for most of its timepieces. AP has much freer design options, even opening the dial up for a skeleton look. Its tourbillon and grand complication designs are very unique and will never be confused with a Rolex. If you have an AP, you will likely be in a very small club and watch collectors will take notice.

Rubber B offers multiple bands made from 100% vulcanized rubber for both Rolex and Audemars Piguet timepieces. There are multiple color bands which are custom fit to snugly connect to the watch case. For more information go to our Rolex page here and our Audmars Piguet page here.

When it comes to luxury watches, two of the most well-known and respected brands are Audemars Piguet and Rolex. Both have a long history of crafting exquisite timepieces that have become icons in their own right. So if you’re trying to decide between an Audemars Piguet or Rolex watch, there are several factors you should consider before making your purchase. From the quality of materials used to the price point, both brands offer something unique for every kind of watch lover. Let’s take a closer look at what each brand has to offer so that you can make an informed decision when selecting your next timepiece.

When it comes to Audemars Piguet, the quality of craftsmanship is one of the main highlights, The Watch Exchange London tells us. The company has been around since 1875 and boasts a long history of producing high-end watches with meticulous attention to detail. Audemars Piguet watches are generally made from more expensive materials such as gold or platinum, making them perfect for luxury watch collectors who appreciate quality over quantity.

On the other hand, Rolex has an equally impressive history of creating exquisite timepieces since 1905. As one of the most recognized and trusted brands on the market, Rolex has earned its reputation by consistently delivering reliable and stylish watches that stand up to daily wear and tear. While they may not be crafted from precious metals like an Audemars Piguet, Rolex watches are still well-made and come in a variety of styles to suit any taste.

In terms of price point, both brands offer something for every budget. Audemars Piguet watches tend to be more expensive than Rolex watches due to the higher quality materials and craftsmanship that go into each one. However, Rolex is known for offering discounts on certain models which can make them a great alternative if you’re looking for an affordable luxury watch.

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference when deciding between an Audemars Piguet or Rolex watch. But whichever brand you choose, you can be sure that you’re investing in a timeless piece of art that will last for years to come.

Are There any Differences Between the Craftsmanship of Both Watches?

Yes, there are notable differences in the craftsmanship of Audemars Piguet and Rolex watches. Audemars Piguet is known for its intricate and complex movements, which some have described as works of art. Its movements are also often hand-finished with a meticulous attention to detail. The company has also been known to develop new movement designs, such as its groundbreaking perpetual calendar mechanism that was introduced in 2005.

On the other hand, Rolex’s reputation rests on its precision timing mechanisms and reliability. Rolex’s watch movements tend to be simpler than those from Audemars Piguet but are still incredibly precise and durable. Rolex is well-known for introducing revolutionary features into its products, like the Oyster Perpetual, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch.

Both watches are made using high-quality materials and craftsmanship. However, if you’re looking for something that will stand out and impress people with its intricacy, Audemars Piguet may be the better choice. On the other hand, if you want something reliable which looks great but isn’t as complex then Rolex might be a better fit. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what you’re looking for in a watch.

So if you’re trying to decide between an Audemars Piguet or Rolex watch, take some time to consider your needs and budget before making your purchase. With their unique styles, materials, and price points, both brands have something special to offer for every kind of watch lover. Whichever one you choose, you can rest assured that it will be a classic timepiece that you’ll cherish for many years to come.

Is AP better than Rolex?

Should I Get An Audemars Piguet Or Rolex?


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