BY HARLAN CHAPMAN-GREEN
Many watch fans seem to consider Audemars Piguet a “one trick pony” given that over three-quarters of the model range is the Royal Oak. I, too, have thought this from time to time, but after a bit more thought, I came to the conclusion that the folks from Le Brassus are doing what their customers want the most: making the iconic Royal Oak.
In 2017, Audemars Piguet debuted the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar with a solid black ceramic case and, intriguingly, a ceramic Royal Oak bracelet. We’ve since seen a couple of different variations of the ceramic Royal Oak perpetual calendar, including a skeletonised one, a special Only Watch 2017 edition and a solid white ceramic version. This is all well and good. However, in recent years other manufacturers who make ceramic watches have been more daring than Audemars Piguet. From the likes of Omega with their ceramic Seamasters and Speedmasters to Hublot, which is currently going through the entire ceramic rainbow. It does make it seem like Audemars Piguet, one of the OGs of full ceramic luxury watches is being left behind a little.
Well, not anymore, as the new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is made of blue-coloured ceramic and has a blue grande tapisserie guilloché dial. The real surprise of this watch, though, is its dimensions, which are a reasonably sized 41mm x 9.5mm. Audemars Piguet is well-versed in making thin movements, and that’s what it’s done here. The in-house calibre 5134, which is on display through the sapphire crystal caseback, measures just 4.5mm thick and yet it crams in a perpetual calendar with day, date, week, month, leap year and moonphase indications. It also has a 4Hz beat rate and 40-hour power reserve, it’s also worth considering that a fair amount of that 4.5mm thickness comes from the gold rotor sat on top of the movement. Therefore, we could be looking at a 3.6mm-3.9mm movement without the rotor, which means that what we get is still impressive, and that’s before we check out the hand-finishing that’s gone into it.
There are one or two drawbacks to this ceramic stunner which I know you lot in the comments section will just love. While the Royal Oak was (and generally remains) a sports watch, this one is most definitely a dress watch thanks to its delicate movement and meagre 20m water resistance. That means it can handle being accidentally run under the tap when washing your hands, by the way. Also, there is no apparent chronometric certification. Not the end of the world, but I know it matters to some.
Despite the above, this is still a marvellous creation, a piece for real watch lovers like me who may never be able to afford the price tag, whatever that happens to be (it’s PoA), but we still love that it exists.
Visit Audemars Piguet here.