If you don’t already know, Audemars Piguet has unleashed a blitzkrieg of Royal Oak models with an updated design and across references, to mark the 50th anniversary of the line. Overnight, there have appeared new iterations of the classic Royal Oak Selfwinding, the Royal Oak Jumbo ‘Extra Thin’, the Royal Oak Jumbo ‘Extra Thin’ Openworked, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon, and the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked. The new models are perfectly positioned to be what is a start of a fitting tribute to the 50th anniversary of the first luxury steel sports watch.
In this piece, we take a closer look at the Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon, and the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked.
Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph, 38mm (Ref 26715) and 41mm (Ref 26240)
There are, in a general sense, certain design changes across the entire Royal Oak line, naturally evident in the new chronos as well. The bevels adorning the top and the bottom of the case are now bigger to enhance the play of light between the satin-finished and polished surfaces, and the watch is overall more slender – Ref 26715 has a case thickness of 11mm; the caseback has also been slightly more integrated into the case middle. Coming to the bracelet, the first four links are now trapezoidal, and the bracelet has more of a taper. Furthermore, the links are thinner and lighter, a new feature for steel and titanium bracelets.
On the dial, the logo has been reworked. Instead of the applied 'AP' monogram and the printed ‘AUDEMARS PIGUET’ at 12 o’clock, there now rests an embossed signature, a Audemars Piguet with a new topography.
The chronos are now in two sizes, 38mm and 41mm. The 38mm is inspired by the original timepiece and sports cases in primarily two different materials - steel and pink gold. The watches feature the Grand Tapisserie dial, the most striking of which is the iconic Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 hue (Ref. 26715ST.OO.1356ST.01), inspired by the first Royal Oak; the colour is making an appearance on several references this year. The dial is covered by a glare-proofed sapphire crystal, under which are applied hour markers and hands that are coated with Super-LumiNova. The date window is at 4:30, with the chronograph subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The water resistance is 50 metres.
While the caseback is closed in the 38mms, and engraved with the Royal Oak logo, powering the watch is the automatic Calibre 2385, with a 3Hz frequency and a power reserve of 40 hours at least. In the 41mm chronos, the transparent caseback gives one view of a new oscillating weight, a 22K gold rotor that features the ‘50-years’ logo and is engraved with 'Audemars Piguet'. It is part of the Calibre 4401, first introduced on gold Royal Oak models in 2021. The movement has a flyback function, an instantaneous date-change mechanism, a column wheel, and a vertical clutch system. The movement’s decoration includes Côtes de Genève, satin brushing, circular graining, circular satin, and polished chamfers.
The 38mm Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph has a total of five references, including the aforementioned one, along with steel case and grey dial (Ref. 26715ST.OO.1356ST.02); pink gold case and steel dial with a diamond-set bezel (Ref. 26715OR.ZZ.1356OR.01); steel case and blue dial with a diamond-set bezel (Ref. 26715ST.ZZ.1356ST.01); and pink gold case and blue dial (Ref. 26715OR.OO.1356OR.01).
The 41mm Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph has a total of 12 references, with iterations that flaunt leather straps and a fully diamond-paved pink gold version. The new collection starts with the stainless steel case and Bleu Nuit dial (Ref. 26240ST.OO.1320ST.01); steel case with black dial (Ref. 26240ST.OO.1320ST.02); steel case with steel dial (Ref. 26240ST.OO.1320ST.03); steel case with khaki dial (Ref. 26240ST.OO.1320ST.04); pink gold with blue dial (Ref. 26240OR.OO.1320OR.01); pink gold with black dial (Ref. 26240OR.OO.1320OR.02); pink gold with silver dial (Ref. 26240OR.OO.1320OR.02); pink gold with khaki green dial (Ref. 26240OR.OO.1320OR.04); pink gold with blue dial and blue leather strap (Ref. 26240OR.OO.D315CR.01); pink gold with khaki dial and khaki leather strap *(Ref. 26240OR.OO.D404CR.01); pink gold case with black dial and black leather strap (Ref. 26240OR.OO.D002CR.01), and a fully paved pink gold and diamonds iteration (Ref. 26242OR.ZZ.1322OR.01)
Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon (Ref. 26730)
The Royal Oak Selfwinding Tourbillon first made an appearance in the year 2020, and this year the manufacture has added three new iterations in steel (26730ST.OO.1320ST.01), titanium (Ref. 26730TI.OO.1320TI.01), and pink gold (Ref. 26730OR.OO.1320OR.01). All three 41mm models feature the Grand Tapisserie pattern on the dial in blue, with the steel and pink gold flaunting a fume design as well – the dial gets darker towards the edges. By comparison, the titanium version has a blue sandblasted dial. The case thickness is 10.6mm and offers a water resistance of 50 metres.
The models all host the updated design features, and inside them beats the Calibre 2950, which combines a flying tourbillon with a central rotor. This complication first appeared in 2018 in the Royal Oak Concept collection. The transparent caseback allows a view of the movement and the new oscillating weight. The power reserve is a minimum of 65 hours.
Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked (Ref. 26735)
There are more than a couple ‘first-evers’ for the brand in the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked. To begin with, this is the debut model of its kind for the brand. It is powered by Audemars Piguet’s first-ever selfwinding flying tourbillon openworked mechanism, Calibre 2972. It appears for the first time in this 41mm steel design.
The Calibre 2972 is clearly the star of the show, visible in all its mechanical glory on the skeletal dial. Featuring a central rotor with a flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, the movement is an update of the Calibre 2950, which was part of the 2019 Code 11.59. The balance wheel is housed in a tiny revolving cage which makes a revolution per minute. The dial appears as if in 3-D, the effect due to the horizontal and vertical finish on the bridges. The rhodium-toned openworked movement design has been created in such a manner so as to allow light to filter to as many parts as possible, which in turn is possible thanks to a very precise cutting and machining of the parts. The beauty of the openworked dial is further enhanced by decorative techniques like ‘traits tirés’, satin, circular and sunray brushing and snailing. Rest atop the movement are the white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating, extending to the slate grey inner bezel.
The case has a thickness of 10.6mm, and is water-resistant to 50 metres. Turn the watch over, and the 50th-anniversary oscillating weight greets you. The watch has a power reserve of 65 hours.
All images: Courtesy Audemars Piguet