Music man: Mark Ronson on his new partnership with Audemars Piguet
The iconic producer and DJ talks about his ideal watch, as well as his rise to the top of his industry
Internationally acclaimed DJ and music producer Mark Ronson has taken a new step into the fashion world, as the new brand ambassador of renowned watchmaker Audemars Piguet.
The collaboration is a perfect match between Ronson’s modern-vintage style and genuine love of watches, and the Swiss watch brand’s dedication to creative artists – it launched a music programme in 2019 which included a new global partnership with Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival.
Born in London’s Notting Hill and raised in New York, the British-American producer was surrounded by music as a child. His father, Laurence Ronson, was the manager of British Eurovision sensation Bucks Fizz, in addition to his role in the Ronson real estate dynasty.
Ronson was eight years old when he moved to New York with his mother, Anne Dexter-Jones, stepfather – Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones – and twin siblings Charlotte and Samantha. Growing up in Manhattan, Ronson counted Sean Lennon (son of John and Yoko Ono) among his childhood friends, and secured a summer internship at Rolling Stone magazine at the age of 12.
“I was never a prodigy at any instrument so there was never any guarantee that I was going to make it in music. But I loved music, I was fanatical about it,” he said in a recent discussion with Audemars Piguet (below).
“I thought I would study journalism – I was like, if I can’t play music [then] I want to write about it. I just wanted to be around it.”
But Ronson became a hit DJ in the 1990s New York music scene, known for his genre- spanning sets of diverse tracks fusing funk, hip hop and rock ‘n’ roll. Soon enough, he was being booked for high profile events and private parties, until making the leap to producer in 2001. His 2003 debut album, Here Comes the Fuzz, was a critical hit and featured artists including Mos Def, Ghostface Killah, Jack White and Sean Paul.
“Busting my ass for 10 years, I ended up making a career in music,“ he said of what seemed, to the public, like an overnight success. “It’s crazy when I think of the [artists] who I love [and] who I’ve got to work with.”
Since then, Ronson has won seven Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his work. His collaborations with artists have produced some of their seminal hits – such as ‘Valerie’ by Amy Winehouse (he also produced much of the late singer’s Back to Black album), ‘Oh my God’ by the Kaiser Chiefs, and ‘Uptown Funk’ by Bruno Mars. He has also collaborated with Duran Duran, Adele, Lady Gaga, Queens of the Stoneage and many more, often catapulting those he produces to new heights.
Interestingly, it was Daft Punk that first introduced the stylish musician to Audemars Piguet. During an early gig in Paris, he noticed members of the Daft Punk extended family wearing the brand’s Royal Oak expression – and immediately decided to track down the iconic Gerald Genta- designed timepiece.
“All the cools guys had this watch. I don’t think I could even pronounce Audemars Piguet at that point,” he said.
“I ended up tracking one down through a great dealer… I remember the day I went in and she said ‘I’ve got your watch’,” he recalled. That watch was the 36mm Royal Oak in yellow gold that Ronson still wears today. “This is a piece of art that I wear, essentially.”
To celebrate his new ambassadorial role, Audemars Piguet recently invited Ronson to visit its Le Brassus workshop in the Vallée de Joux, where it has been crafting fine watches since 1875.
“Being in the factory, I really noticed the attention to detail and combination of analogue instruments and soulful maestros who make these watches,” he said of his visit. “It’s so similar to what we do in the [music] studio, with our heritage and sense of dedication to craft.”
Evidently, this is a collaboration made in perfect harmony.