Being more of a “city rat”, the virtual reality walk-about with Audemars Piguet in the winter forests of Switzerland was just my type of tour in the outdoors. The press conference was very AP-like, very professional, which, in addition to leading up the novelties, gave a glimpse into the super-private R&D department of the company.
Although Audemars Piguet is a bold and masculine brand, the company has had a clear focus on women – but I would say never at the expense of their male collectors. Today, female customers provide around 30% of their sales. In 2013 AP chose Anouck Lepère, a stylish Belgian model, whose appearance gives an authentic intellect to both the Royal Oak series and the oval-shaped Millenary models. Her sharp-collar, self-confident feminine radiance goes well with the brand who has such iconic designs as the Royal Oak, which requires these human qualities to fly. At the same time her effortless elegance also suits the more curved shapes of the Millenary and elevates it from a pure fashion accessory to a high-end personal companion.
This year at SIHH AP presented new Millenary timepieces as well as Royal Oaks.
Along the same lines, Millenary models have always included advanced manufacture movements, which in the Millenary Openworked 47mm have been put directly on display. Bridges span between the lower and higher sides of the 18k pink gold oval case providing support for the visible watch parts of the 4105 automatic manufacture calibre. Even the off-centred dial is naked by having only the contours drawn in gold.
Two other dedicated female versions were also introduced, which combine the discerning mechanics of calibre 5205 or 5206 and the gem-setting expertise of AP. The white gold piece has a zebra-like pattern conceived by the marriage of brilliant-cut diamonds and black onyx. Even though the dial may look busy, time remains undoubtedly visible provided by the contrasting yellow gold hands.
The pink gold model has a different style and the colours are slightly warmer. The vibration is induced by the regular pattern of white pearls on onyx, which is further intensified by the surrounding diamond pave on the pink gold. Finding natural pearls in the same colour and size must have been quite challenging, but the result is gorgeous: each pearl sits on a fine gold net covering the off-centered dials and the balance wheel’s vertical bridge.
Royal Oak Yellow Gold
Yellow gold is a question of culture. In some places like India or in the Middle Eastern countries yellow gold timepieces were never “out of fashion”. It has always been the symbol of wealth and status, and by the way the yellow gold of the metal is in genuine friendship with the yolk of the sun.
In 2016 this metal made its way back to the Royal Oak. As Audemars Piguet describes it: “the original rule breaker and the most iconic precious metal together”. Knowing that vintage yellow gold timepieces from different brands have shown great results at auctions, it could be just the perfect timing.
Interesting to know, that in 1984 – based on Gérald Genta’s original 1972 design – Jacqueline Dimier designed the Royal Oak’s Perpetual Calendar model and from the 279 pieces 229 were cased in yellow gold.
The yellow gold line includes models with silvery white or blue dials, quartz or self-winding versions, simple time display and more complex models, such as a chronograph and a perpetual calendar.
The Perpetual Calendar was in the pre-SIHH communication of the brand, receiving an instant interest and different opinions about using yellow gold. The diameter has been increased from 39mm to 41mm, which balanced the strong character of the yellow gold with the four sub-dials by leaving more space to settle. Since the watch is less than 10mm thick (the Calibre 5134 is only 4.31 mm thick) it is comfortable and definitely not robust on the wrist. In order to keep the dial less “harsh-looking”, designers made the blue “Grande Tapisserie” dial somewhat paler.
It is powered by 5134, a new calibre with perpetual calendar (day, date, week, astronomical moon, month and leap year), hours and minutes functions. The sky in the Moon window is made of aventurine, with a laser micro-structured lifelike globe.
Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie
Besides the wavelengths of colours, AP likes to experiment with sound too. The company in fact has a long-standing history of creating minute repeaters, which will be on display in the new museum building, called “Maison des Fondateurs”.
Last year AP presented the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept RD#1. The timepiece had a new minute repeater and case construction, which produced a clean, warmly toned and loud gong sound. Due to the patents pending at that time we had to wait until SIHH 2016 to get more details about the piece. In 2016 a new, generally available model emerged, called the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie, which differs slightly in colour from the Concept RD#1.
AP approached the entire system as a classical instrument: gongs behave like strings, hammers like fingers or a fiddle bow that induce the vibration, the gong stud like the instrument’s bridge that carries the vibration into the instrument and the internal “sound board” under the movement that amplifies the sound just as the body of the instrument.
In order to improve resonance and reduce the loss due to the absorbance of the general movement parts, engineers fixed the gongs on a new soundboard instead of the main-plate. The quality of sound is unbelievably rich and loud, making the chiming heard clearly even in a noisy room. The hand-wound calibre 2937 is visible through the openworked dial. The case is made of titanium.
Photo credits: Copyright Audemars Piguet, Loupiosity.com.
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