The Research Triangle (or sometimes just “the Triangle”) is a cluster of three cities in North Carolina–Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill–known for a robust research and development industry, largely fueled by some nearby universities. It’s a bit of a hotspot for commercial development right now, as it fits nicely in a matrix of affordability, quality of life, and availability of qualified workforce. Luxury watch powerhouse Audemars Piguet has joined a growing list of companies moving to the area: their new $22 million service center in Raleigh, NC will employ over a hundred people.
Is This Replacing the Existing AP Service Center in Florida?
Yes, this new North Carolina service facility will replace the existing Audemars Piguet Service Center in Clearwater, Florida. A press release from Wake County Economic Development notes that this “will be the new home of their North American Service Center.” Center, singular. They also note that this development creates “105 new jobs in Raleigh,” although it’s unclear how many of those were already jobs in Clearwater. Uprooting employees to a different city a ten-hour drive from their current home is never an easy decision, but the Clearwater workers seemed to have some say in the new location.
When our employees visited Raleigh and the Triangle area, they said it felt like home. Quality of life, schools, healthcare, culture, and safe communities were the major considerations for our teams. We are excited to move to the dynamic City of Raleigh and look forward to settling into the area.Francois-Henry Bennahmias, Audemars Piguet CEO
Why Is AP Making This Move?
Well, wait times aren’t getting any shorter at the service centers of Audemars Piguet (or seemingly any luxury watch brand). There just aren’t enough watchmakers to quickly meet the demand of the countless enthusiasts with watches in need of maintenance. Six-month service wait times have been common at AP for over a decade. It makes sense that AP would want to expand their service center, and the Research Triangle is a sensible place to do it.
Loading, please wait…
But why aren’t they leaving the Clearwater one open, too? Well, presumably it’s hard to open a massive repair center for a haute horlogerie brand with entirely new employees. Clearwater residents debate if the presence of the Church of Scientology’s world headquarters there is really problematic or not, but it’s undisputed that Scientology owns 100 acres of now-quiet real estate in the heart of downtown Clearwater. “You can ignore the zombie apocalypse of downtown and live a happy life in greater Clearwater,” notes one reddit user, but some would like to see more restaurants and nightlife there. AP’s employees should have plenty of that once they make their move, though.
AP Service Center’s New Digs: Raleigh Iron Works
Raleigh Iron Works is a rather ambitious mixed-use facility in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina’s historic industrial district. Including offices, retail space, and apartments, the development spans 190,000 square feet of adaptive reuse and 1.1 million square feet of new construction. AP will be occupying 63,000 of those square feet. Raleigh Iron Works opened its doors in 2023, and a dozen retail tenants already appear on its website. Instagram-grade vendors like Andia’s Ice Cream give you an idea of how hip this place looks. The developers have aimed to make it all very walkable, as well.
So When is AP Moving?
We don’t know when exactly Audemars Piguet plans to exit its current Clearwater service facilities, but we expect the move sometime in 2024. After all, they don’t need to construct the building—that part has already been done. Done quite well, in fact. We wish all of AP’s Clearwater Service Center employees the best of luck with their move to the Triangle.