‘VIRTUAL REALITY IS BEING REALISED — EVERYTHING WE WERE PROMISED... BUT IT WON’T MATCH THE REAL THING’

The Rake talks to Audemars Piguet guru Michael Friedman about his philosophy of time and why watches and clocks deserve to be recognised alongside the greatest works of art.

Michael Friedman, Audemars Piguet’s Head of Complications

Michael Friedman, formerly the official historian at Audemars Piguet and now the watchmaker’s Head of Complications, views horology through a uniquely philosophical lens. For him, the relationship of timekeeping objects to broader civilisation has long been a source of fascination. “I was already deep into this field as a student,” Friedman says. This abiding passion was acknowledged when, fresh out of university in the late nineties, he was appointed curator at the U.S. National Watch and Clock museum before spending several years as vice-president and department head of watches at Christie’s in New York, and subsequently finding a home at Audemars Piguet.

Friedman’s hope is that time measurement devices will one day be given their due among the most significant, resonant achievements of mankind. The story of the watch, Friedman says, “is a story of time — and what time means to culture”. At their highest level of craftsmanship, Friedman believes, watches are more than simply luxury goods — they are manifestations of independent thought, mnemonic “works of permanence” in an increasingly ephemeral world, where cycles of obsolescence grow ever faster. Here, Friedman explains his broader philosophies of time and life.

Published

June 2021

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