This isn’t the first time this has happened, Audemars Piguet has yet again gone on stealth mode to list one of their most anticipated Royal Oak models on their website earlier today: the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in full white ceramic.
SIHH 2017 was when AP announced the all black ceramic version of the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, and needless to say, it was all that we could really talk about at the fair that year.
The primary challenge with an all-black Royal Oak, as it was explained to us by the one and only Giulio Papi saying, “Never mind the challenge of creating a fully ceramic watch, imagine what we had to put ourselves through to find the right shade of black to color our ceramic with. It had to be the right color; it had to be perfect color.”
So, we understood that the team at AP worked really hard (and long) to get the color of the watch just right; it absolutely had to have the right visual effect on the mind. But the Royal Oak isn’t just about the color of it, there are facets, intermingling polished and brushed surfaces on the case and bracelet that come together to form one genius piece of horology.
Here’s then how the AP team rose to the challenge: says Giulio, “Ceramic, while it has hard, is also brittle and can shatter. So, what you have in this watch isn’t 100% ceramic, but a composite of ceramic and metal. It’s not on the surface of the watch, but it is in there in its core.
“We mix the ceramic in its powder state with the ‘secret’ metal and then we sinter it to form the core of the watch for the various parts required to form it; its skeleton if you will. I’m not terribly fluent in this knowledge domain but understand this that a pure ceramic watch would’ve been far too brittle, almost like porcelain.
“If the watch was in fact a 100% ceramic, then: 1) it would not be as hardy as it is; we would’ve been unable to satin polish and bevel the watch. It would just shatter at that kind of stress. And 2) it wouldn’t have been as light and comfortable to wear, because as you know, this much ceramic to produce an entire watch would’ve resulted in a really heavy watch.”
With all that know how locked in, what took AP this long to give the world a white ceramic version of the perpetual calendar? Guessing it was all about getting the right shade of white, the visual effect of it had to — absolutely — spot on. And, also, the black ceramic version probably needed its own time to stretch out.
Self-winding Calibre 5134; perpetual calendar with week indication, day, date, astronomical moon, month, leap year, hours and minutes; 40-hour power reserve
41mm white ceramic; water resistant to 20m
White ceramic bracelet with titanium AP folding clasp
Also, Introducing the Production Version of the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
But wait there’s more. SIHH 2018, the announcement of the Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin. Won’t go into too many details, but you can have a read of this extensive article on the watch here.
The watch represented groundbreaking sexy, it was groundbreaking watchmaking, it was groundbreaking all round for AP, but where it proved heartbreaking is that the RD#2 was just a prototype. That is until now.
Meet the production version, the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin. Oddly, this one isn’t on the AP website just yet, but there’s plenty of hi-res images of the watch going around the web with technical specifications and all.
The most obvious departure here comes in the form of the non-Tapisserie dial, what we have instead is a satin blue surface. The less obvious, but bigger, change with the production piece is that where the RD#2 was all platinum, now the watch is a mix of titanium and platinum.
The case itself is titanium with the bezel in platinum. On the bracelet you have mostly titanium with platinum links and a titanium AP folding clasp.
What remains verbatim from the RD#2 is of course that technical mastery that is the watch’s movement, the Calibre 5513.
Price is listed at CHF140,000 and it’s said that about 100 will be produced within 2019.
Self-winding Calibre 5513; perpetual calendar with day, date, astronomical moon, month, leap year, hours and minutes; 40-hour power reserve
42mm titanium with platinum bezel; water resistant to 20m
Titanium bracelet with platinum links and titanium AP folding clasp