By Brian Jones
At this point, there really isnâ€™t much that we donâ€™t know about Audemars Piguetâ€™s Royal Oak. Dreamt up by one of the greatest to ever don a loupe, the Royal Oak is just about as iconic as they come: a living legend that forged its own category, boasts a history marked by a laundry list of world-firsts, and is effectively responsible for making theÂ manufactureÂ what it is today.Â Those are the cold, hard, unquestionably impressive facts. That being said, we do live in an era of #fakenews, in which such facts are often met with a heaping helping of skepticism. However, if there were anyÂ doubts out there regarding the lineâ€™sÂ innovative chops, the manufactureÂ absolutely obliterated themÂ at this yearâ€™sÂ SIHH when it presented a barrageÂ of exceptional newÂ novelties including a pair of RoyalÂ Oaks whose technical excellence made them the talkÂ of the event.
Weâ€™re speaking, of course, of the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph and, arguably the belle of the SIHH 2018 ball, the RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin. Letâ€™s take a closer look at what makes these watches such worthy additions to APâ€™s iconic line.
The Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
Milestones have become almost routineÂ for Royal Oaks, whose penchantÂ for envelope-pushing innovation continuesÂ to rewrite theÂ record books.
The Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin represents a bold new chapter for the line. Thatâ€™s because, at a mere 6.3mm thick, the second product of APâ€™s â€œRDâ€ mini-seriesÂ (following 2014â€™s Royal Oak Concept RD#1 minute repeater) is the thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar that the world has ever seen.
Yes, here we have a complicated watch thatâ€™s a great deal thinner than both the time-only, 8.1mm-thick Royal Oak Extra-Thin (also known as the Jumbo), as well as the 9.5mm-thickÂ Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar. SoÂ how did AP manage to pack a premium perpetual calendar â€” and allÂ the functions that come with it â€” intoÂ a Royal Oak thatâ€™s slimmer than anyÂ other currently out there? In a word,Â dedication.
Developing the movement that would ultimately make it possible for the watch to cut such a svelte silhouette â€” the new, 2.89mm-thick caliber 5133 â€” took APâ€™s artisans a full five years. In the end, in order to whittle the perpetual-calendar movement down to its impossibly slim dimensions, they compressed what began as a three-storey movement â€” theÂ caliber 2120 â€” into a single level.
To successfully pull off such a radicalÂ redesign, AP cleverly rearrangedÂ and combined functions that would typically require their own, distinct mechanisms.
According to the brand, streamlining the movement in this way has boosted overall efficiency, and allowed AP to bolster this ultra-slimÂ piece with a sturdy design.
The watch features a 41mm platinum case and a blue Grande Tapisserie dial that displays hours and minutes, and whose perpetual calendar includes indications for the day, date, day/night, astronomical moon, month and leap year. Its movement boasts a 40-hour power reserve.
The Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph
The Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph is another milestone APÂ release, but of a slightly differentÂ variety.
Like the 2018 Royal Oak Offshore re-edition, the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph was released in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the lineâ€™s landmark first model. While itâ€™s true that the Tourbillon Chronograph doesnâ€™t feature record-breaking specs, what it does offer is a glimpse of the lineâ€™s next evolution: a bold new vision for the future that introduces cutting-edge design cues and technical advancements, while remainingÂ unwaveringly faithful to theÂ lineâ€™s DNA.
Classic Royal Oak cues, including the octagonal bezel and angular case, are retained, as are the customary eight hexagonal screws.
However, eachÂ trademark trait has been ever so slightly tweaked. The bezel, for instance,Â is thinner, yielding a more spacious dial, while the 45mm case is theÂ largest thatÂ the line has ever seen.
Those screws, meanwhile, find themselves serving a different function altogether. Although theyâ€™re typically used to seal the case, here, theyâ€™re usedÂ to hold the Tourbillon Chronographâ€™s movement in position.Â Theyâ€™re also, interestingly enough, placed below the sapphire crystal ratherÂ than embeddedÂ into theÂ bezel.
The Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph comes in a choice of 18K pink gold or stainless steel. BothÂ are available in a limited releaseÂ ofÂ 50Â pieces.
The skeletonized bridges extend inward from the screws, evoking a modern, balanced aesthetic that makes the in-house caliber 2947 movement appear to be suspended from the bezel. The movement is a robust one (to say the least), and is powered by two massive barrels that provide 173 hours,Â or justÂ over a weekâ€™s worth of juice. Theyâ€™reÂ visible on the right side of theÂ dial, beneath the 30-minute counter at three oâ€™clock andÂ oppositeÂ theÂ tourbillon at nine.