Audemars Piguet has long cemented its reputation as Swiss watchmaking royalty not least through the substantial list of technical firsts that has trailed much of its history. When the gloves come off, and the manufacture allows itself the luxury of taking its time, the result can be considered Audemars Piguet’s magnum opus, the Tradition d’Excellence collection. It began in 1999 with the release of the Cabinet No.1, and we will assume the work hasn’t finished, because to date, five watches in the series have been released, all limited to just 20 pieces each, and all cased in platinum. There will be eight watches to complete the series, to be housed in a marquetry cabinet specially built in the Vallée de Joux.
As tributes to the technical genius of the company founders, every Cabinet watch represents the state-of-the-art in a certain aspect or genre of watchmaking. Here, we take a look at No.4.
With earlier Cabinet watches using the Jules Audemars case (No.1, No.2), Edward Piguet case (No.3), Millenary case (No.5), the Cabinet No.4 is the most contemporary-looking and sportiest of the Cabinet watches, being housed in a familiar Royal Oak case. The silvered ‘Grande Tapisserie’ dial is opened in places to reveal the huge drums and tourbillon, but a most unusual dial-side element is arguably the the dual power reserve: a 120-degree track spans the lower part of the dial to point out the very substantial 10-day power reserve. On the last day, a subdial below the 30-minute register takes over, providing a high resolution reading of the power reserve over the final 24 hours of running time.
While the movement runs at a relatively languid 21,600vph, timekeeping stability is maintained by having one of the larger tourbillons in its day: the cage measures 12.3mm and the balance wheel is 10mm across. Considering the energy requirements of spinning the massive caged escapement, the 10-day run time is doubly impressive, supplied by the barrels at ‘12’ and ‘6’ running in parallel.
On the complication front, the Cabinet No.4 is Audemars Piguet making a better, more precise chronograph starting at the hands: with coupling lever fashioned from lightweight titanium, the start/stop of the chronograph hand is made more instant and precise.
Clad in full platinum down to its wonderfully finished bracelet, the Cabinet No.4’s heft is a comforting, ever-present reminder of the unique and ingenious engineering worked into the watch. Not unlike a gauntlet.
Manual-wind cal. 2893 tourbillon chronograph; 21,600vph; twin mainspring barrels; 10-day power reserve with dual power reserve indicators
46mm platinum case; water resistant to 20m;