Just last month, Audemars Piguet debuted their first openworked automatic Royal Oak wristwatch equipped with a flying tourbillon.
The Le Brassus watch brand is heavily focused on selling Royal Oaks that are waitlisted around the world, effectively giving them control of who buys and who doesn’t. Back in the 1980s, Audemars Piguet was more focused on horology than hype, though, and in 1986 they introduced the world’s first automatic tourbillon wristwatch, powered by caliber 2870 and housed in an ultra-thin case measuring just 5.3 mm in thickness. The tourbillon cage, which measures 7.2 mm in diameter, is still one of the smallest in the world today, and one of the lightest at 0.123 grams.
Several generations later, caliber 2875 was developed and introduced with the Royal Oak collection, for the first time, in 1997 for the 25th anniversary of the Royal Oak (Ref. 25831). Following that, in 1999, they produced Royal Oak reference 25902, fitted with caliber 2875SQ, which became the first openworked automatic Royal Oak tourbillon.
With a rich history of tourbillons, and the dominance of the brand at the high-end of the watch market entering 2022, Audemars Piguet’s latest openworked Royal Oak tourbillon adds a flying tourbillon — meaning it’s only supported by a lower bridge — allowing for a better view of the whirlwind mechanism from the dial side as it oscillates (compared to traditional two-sided support of a traditional tourbillon).
Introducing the Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon Openworked. Offered at launch exclusively in a 41 mm x 10.6 mm stainless steel case, this is the new must-have Royal Oak for those with no budget limits.
The new openworked automatic tourbillon caliber 2972 is an evolution of the caliber 2950 that was launched in 2019 as part of the Code 11.59 collection. The new caliber 2792 beats at 3Hz, measures 31.5 mm x 6.84 mm, has 27 jewels, 271 total components, and a power reserve of 65-hours.
Like the caliber 7121, which powers the new Royal Oak Jumbo Ref. 16202’s, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked Ref. 26735 movement caliber 2972 components have been manufactured by machines, however, unlike the Jumbo movement (which is not finished by hand), they go as far as they can with the (computer numerical control) CNC machines, to cut the mainplate and bridges, and then use electric discharge machining (EDM), before finishing certain components by hand.
In addition to rhodium-plating of the main components, finishing of the movement includes “traits tirés” (machine beveling of the component edges, which is also used for the case, bezel, and bracelet), satin circular brushing, sunray brushing, snailing, as well as polished bevels (done by hand for the V-angles). Completing the movement is a Royal Oak “50 YEARS” oscillating weight, crafted in rhodium-plated 22K pink gold, which will be available on the Royal Oak anniversary models until the 2022 production run is complete.
While the 2022 Royal Oak Jumbo retained its historic bracelet and case dimensions, much of the 2022 Royal Oak line, including the Openworked Flying Tourbillon, received a new generation of case and bracelet which feature larger polished chamfers on the case and bracelet for a more slender aesthetic. Additionally, “the first four links of the integrated bracelet show a more pronounced decrease in thickness for more visual appeal. The bracelet links are also thinner and therefore lighter for added comfort. For its part, the sapphire caseback has been slightly more integrated into the case to better fit the wrist,” according to Audemars Piguet.
Protected by a sapphire crystal, the dial of the Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon Openworked (Ref. 26735ST.OO.1320ST.01) has a slate-gray flange printed with graduations, with hand-applied white gold hour-markers on top, and white gold hands, both filled with luminescent material, making the hours and minutes easy to read in light or dark. A sapphire crystal caseback protects the caseback, allowing the movement to be viewed from either side. The push-in crown is emblazoned with AP and the case has the traditional Royal Oak construction with eight aligned white gold hexagonal screws that go through to bolts on the caseback, and the water-resistance depth rating is 50 meters.
Retail is $250,000.
Photos by Audemars Piguet.