The line-up of Audemars Piguet models that mark the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak just got longer. The brand has launched Ref. 26670ST.OO.1240ST.01, or, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin (RD#3). The 39mm stainless steel model represents the first time a 'Jumbo' has been equipped with a self-winding flying tourbillon.
Five years in the making, the flying tourbillon of the Audemars Piguet ‘Jumbo’ Extra Thin Flying Tourbillon is a more compact version of the one used in the 41mm selfwinding tourbillon; the brand achieved this by using a peripheral drive, which was done by removing the traditional fixed fourth wheel underneath the balance and escapement. This ensured that the a level of the tourbillon decreased. Along with this, the tourbillon cage has been made in titanium, which, with the peripheral drive not only makes the dissemination of energy to the tourbillon more even but also refines this regulating mechanism.
In order to present maximum visibility of the tourbillon and the movement, the construction of the mechanism has been rejigged. The balance wheel arms have been made thicker with the use of titanium, which in turn provides more stability to the tourbillon cage as it rotates. Audemars Piguet engineers have also managed to remove the hairspring stud disc from underneath the anti-shock unit, and the balance wheel now doesn’t make use of protruding weight screws, but has weight screws that sit flat on the perimeter of the balance wheel. Also, a new redesigned escapement has been incorporated to reveal more inner workings of the movement.
Powering this watch is a new in-house calibre 2968, which provides 50 hours of power reserve and has a 3Hz frequency. The movement, composed of 226 parts, has hand decorated elements, including traits tirés, a finish that appears on the mainplate and bridges, replacing the traditional Côtes de Genève. Also, the openworked, rhodium-toned bridges offer a view into the movement, with some elements in pink-gold toned colours.
According to Michael Friedman, Head of communications, Audemars Piguet, “It (Royal Oak) remains a platform for both technical and aesthetic development, as demonstrated by the new ultra-thin flying tourbillon making its debut on both the classic 39 mm and the celebrated 37 mm Royal Oak models.”
The overall watch is a typical Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ with its classic octagonal bezel with eight visible screws, sharp lugs, and an octagonal crown with ‘AP’ engraving. The watch comes with a glare-proofed sapphire crystal on the front and on the caseback, and the watch has a water resistance of 50 metres. The dial features the traditional petite tapisserie guilloche surface in Audemars Piguet’s Bleu Nuit, Nuage colour, which is a result of a PVD process. The bathtub shaped hour markers, and hours and minutes hands are crafted in white gold, and feature a luminescent material; at 6 o’clock is an all-new flying tourbillon. The Audemars Piguet logo sits below a dual bar shaped 12 o’clock.
Turning the watch over, you see the octogonal caseback, with eight visible screws; under the sapphire glass is the openworked, rhodium-toned 22K pink gold rotor. The oscillating weight, engraved with ‘50 Years’ and ‘Royal Oak’ signatures, has dedicated reverser wheels that convert the bidirectional movement into a unidirectional movement to wind the spring. Completing the overall look of the watch is the polished and satin-brushed stainless steel bracelet with AP folding clasp.
The RD#3 follows in the footsteps of the RD#2 and RD#1, names given to Audemars Piguet’s high research and development timepieces. RD#1 was the Royal Oak Concept Minute Repeater Supersonnerie, which became available for the public in 2016. The luxury timepiece maker launched RD#2 in 2018 as a Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin with a 2.89mm movement. Come September, Audemars Piguet will also launch a new model in smaller 37mm variant to complement RD#3, and will have a dial with a different hue.
Images: Courtesy Audemars Piguet