Gary Mead, CEO of Audemars Piguet in conversation with Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood I’m here at Edgbaston Golf club today with Audemars Piguet and their guests to play some golf, hopefully give them a few tips and just generally enjoy the day.

Our relationship with Audemars Piguet started back in 2005 at the Open Championship at Saint Andrews.
That was when I received my first watch and it has been going strong since then. I’ve enjoyed my time with them.

I’m not a big jewellery wearer. But a watch is something I’ve always worn – especially Audemars Piguet. A very classic look, you know, the face and it’s just a watch that everybody asks about when they see it.

(Talking to the guests) Well welcome to the Audemars Piguet clinic. I arranged the weather for you today – the wind.

I heard you were all great golfers so didn’t want to make it too easy for you.

So, I’m going to start off with a pitching wedge. I’m going to hit a few balls to loosen up. I’ve hit a few already but I’m still not quite as loose as I’d like.

I start with a wedge because it’s one of the shortest irons in the bag and I’m just trying to really get my muscles ready for playing the game of golf. You know, when it gets really windy like this I like to keep my swing nice and short and compact; and really try and take the wrists out of the play as well. Because as soon as you start hitting it hard and getting your wrists involved, the ball obviously shoots up. And that’s not really what we want today.

We want to keep the ball as low as possible with this – I suppose it’s a hurricane.

Gary Mead – CEO, Audemars Piguet Right Lee, here we are at Edgbaston golf course on an extremely windy and challenging day.

You’ve been with the brand 6 years. So, what is your first impression with Audemars? Why did you get into the brand?

Lee Westwood Well I thought it was such a prestigious brand. It oozes class.

You only have to look at the watches themselves. They always try to keep the same shape as well. There is continuity there.

And to be honest the people from Audemars Piguet have always been fantastic as well. It’s a great company to work with.

Gary Mead And obviously, if you look at your watch, that’s the new model – the Legacy, you’re familiar with wearing big watches, oversize watches. But clearly you’re attracted to the different dimensions, the different dynamics of the product, the sexy materials.

Is that something that appeals to you?

Lee Westwood Yes, very much so. You know, I’ve got pretty big arms and, I can get away with a big watch. And I’ve had the history of buying Audemars Piguets, the bigger ones the T-3s, the Shaquille O’Neal’s, Survivors and things like that. And now onto the Legacy.

You know, I like the idea of this one, the different metals, the ceramic and then the Kevlar strap.
You’ve got a choice of straps, obviously, as well.

Gary Mead And two thousand and eleven, in terms of a golfing year for you, how would you regard it?

Lee Westwood It’s been pretty good. I’ve played quite nicely, pretty consistently.

I haven’t won as many tournaments as I’d have liked. I’ve won two.

But I’ve had chances to win a few others most notably the BMW PGA at Wentworth – lost in a play-off there.

So, it’s been a decent year. I’ve maintained my World Ranking ranking as well. I started the year first but I’ve got to maintain the points as well.

I feel if we’re going to make a watch – a Lee Westwood watch – I suppose I’d like it to be quite big like the big watches: the Legacy, the Shaquille O’Neal, the T-3. Probably.

Kevlar straps, something like that, a mix of titanium, ceramic…

…that’d be nice. Something that I could play golf in as well. That’d be great.

Gary Mead So Lee, Audemars Piguet, as you know is a family owned brand and still owned by the ancestors of the founding families.

How important is it to you to understand that value – that it’s retained by the founding families.

Lee Westwood Yes, very much so, you know, it shows they have the passion and the tradition of whatever business they’re in, which is watch making in this case. It’s very important.

Gary Mead And of all of the Audemars Piguet watches that you’ve owned or have seen on collector’s wrists, what would you say is your all-time favourite Audemars Piguet watch?

Lee Westwood It’s normally the most recent one I’ve bought. Obviously that stays on my wrist, but you know, I find myself switching them all around.

It’s such a traditional design. But I’d have to say at the moment probably this one
the Legacy.

Gary Mead Audemars Piguet, we believe, is the ultimatesports brand. We introduced the Royal Oak nearly forty years ago. How do you individually rate Audemars Piguet as the ultimate sports brand in watches?

Lee Westwood I don’t think it’s right up there at the top, I think it is at the top.

You know, everywhere I go round the world wearing a watch, people come up to me asking, “what’s that?”, and then I have to take it off, feel how light it is and try it on their wrists.

So, you know, it’s a piece that everybody wants.

Gary Mead And finally, regarding the Audemars Piguet stable of other ambassadors, outside the golfers – as you know we’re working with Formula One pilots like Michael Schumacher, the world’s greatest footballer: Lionel Messi; we’ve just signed the world’s greatest tennis player: Novak Djokovic. When you look at that stable of other premier sports people, how do you feel to be in that company?

Lee Westwood Oh it’s great to be in that company. They’re obviously all World-Class athletes and I think that fits right in there with Audemars Piguet being a World-Class brand.

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