No watch aficionado can say Audemars Piguet without thinking of Royal Oak. Such an iconic collection for the watchmakers based in Le Brassus, Switzerland, deserves to be perpetuated and innovated year after year. And that’s why, AP launched several new lines of their Royal Oak at the SIHH this January, with our favorites, a frosty Royal Oak Frosted Gold for the ladies, and the masculine Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar. This year’s greatest surprise so far was the third and final design in the high jewellery Diamond trilogy, the one-of-a-kind Haute Joaillerie timepiece, Diamond Outrage.
Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar
Just like the Royal Oak, the Perpetual Calendar is part of Audemars Piguet’s DNA. In 1955, AP introduced the world’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch with the essential leap year indication, made in only 9 examples. And the brand launched one perpetual calendar wristwatch after the other… While last year’s Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar strutted around in yellow gold, 2017 sees the timepiece don a full black robe, made of hand-finished black ceramic. Black ceramic is quite challenging to master; virtually unscratchable, it withstands high temperatures and thermal shocks, and is consequently extremely resistant to ageing, which is a welcome characteristic when it comes to timepieces.
Housed in a 41 mm case, the self winding larger calibre 5134 is fully visible through the glare-proofed sapphire crystal caseback. On the opposite side, the slate grey “Grande Tapisserie” patterned dial displays a photo realistic astronomical moon, contrasting with all the black components of the piece. Here’s an interesting fact for you: while a regular stainless steel Royal Oak bracelet requires six hours to go through the machine, polish, hand-finish, assemble and control process, these exact same steps take thirty hours (!!) to be finalized for the black ceramic bracelet! In fact, it took specialists more than 600 hours of research to develop this new wristwatch -how’s that for royal?!
After Punk and Fury, Outrage is all the… outrage! Shining with the glimmer of hundreds of brilliant-cut diamonds, Diamond Outrage -the third and final design in the trilogy of one-of-a-kind Haute Joaillerie timepieces- is an audacious cuff watch with an explosive style, taking Haute Joaillerie watch design to a whole new level. Presented in two unique 18K white gold pieces, fully set with diamonds or with blue sapphires in a brilliant array of cuts, Outrage forms spiky beauty. The full diamond version includes three baguette-set spikes in a futuristic design.
The distinctive spikes in sizes ranging from 29.30mm to 40mm are created using the snow setting technique; diamonds are set so carefully close together that the jewel’s white-gold frame is rendered almost invisible, creating a luminous effect. Invisible setting, another rare technique, is used for each of the three distinctive baguette-cut diamond points featured on the full diamond version. Such skill can only be achieved after many years of training and that is what distinguishes the expert jewelers that crafted .
Royal Oak Frosted Gold
For its women’s Royal Oak’s 40th anniversary, AP unveils the new Royal Oak Frosted Gold, a celebration of the iconic design, in collaboration with Florentine jewellery designer, Carolina Bucci. Available in both white gold and pink gold, the new watch has been created by experimenting with jewellery techniques. Its defining feature resides in its shimmering sparkle that comes from a surface treatment process rooted in an ancient gold hammering technique, also called the Florentine technique, used in Carolina Bucci’s workshops for decades
By beating the gold with a diamond tipped tool, it creates tiny indentations on the surface that give a sparkle effect similar to that of precious stones, like diamond dust. The challenge was to apply this surface treatment technique across the case and bracelet of the watch without altering the clean lines that define the Royal Oak’s form. Then the original gradating bracelet construction also demanded that the order in which the rest of the finishing is executed be reconsidered. It took months of trial and error between Bucci’s Florentine craftsmen and Audemars Piguet’s manufacture to alter the surface of the gold in such a way that it sparkles when catching the light, while retaining the softness and flexibility of the Royal Oak’s bracelet.
Today, AP merges Jacqueline Dimier’s initial timeless design with Carolina Bucci’s contemporary approach, marking a dazzling link between modern horology and contemporary jewellery.