Audemars Piguet will bring a fresh burst of colour to SIHH 2018, with the unveiling of three new Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon models. We’re profiling two of them here for you today, one in classic steel and the other in 18ct pink gold. All changes are purely aesthetic and as far as we’re aware, neither will be limited editions, although we imagine production quantities will be relatively low to maintain the exclusivity of these pieces.
The Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon made its debut back in 2012 as part of the Royal Oak 40th anniversary celebrations. The idea was to take the original concept of the Royal Oak from 1972 and elevate it to a whole new plain of consciousness (my words, not theirs). Suffice to say, they succeeded and since then Audemars Piguet has introduced several variations, including an all platinum version in 2016 and a titanium/platinum hybrid in 2017.
For 2018, we are back to the original metals you know and love when it comes to the Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon: 18ct pink gold and stainless steel. Both cases measure 41mm x 8.95mm and feature integrated AP’s much-loved bracelets in matching metals. The pink gold version (Ref. 26522OR.OO.1220OR.01) has a familiar blue-coloured dial that we have seen on previous versions with pink gold applied hour markers, although there is one rather obvious (you might even say dramatic) difference, which we’ll get to in a minute.
The steel version (Ref. 26522ST.OO.1220ST.01), meanwhile, features a striking purple, or plum-coloured dial paired with white gold hour markers, a colour we have not seen before in this collection. Without having seen this piece in person it’s hard to say just how purple it looks but we’ve definitely observed other brands have success with purple dials, although it’s usually edgier, independent brands like MB&F and Manufacture Royale.
In addition to the new dial colour, there is also a new dial pattern for both models. Audemars Piguet’s signature “Tapisserie” guilloche design now appears as a sunburst pattern, which I have to say is quite striking visually, almost overpoweringly so. The design seems to radiate outwards from the tourbillion, providing a visual amplification of the hypnotizing “whirlwind”.
I suspect, however, that this bold new direction may be a polarizing one. Some will love the distinct new look, whilst others may be less enthusiastic. Personally, I want to reserve judgement until we get our hands on the watches at SIHH next week. In any event, it’s good to see AP trying something a little different, albeit another variation on the same theme.
On the reverse side of the watch, a sapphire caseback reveals the inner-workings of the hand-wound Calibre 2924. This in-house movement is the same as we’ve seen in previous models. Measuring just 4.46mm thick, it features 25 jewels and oscillates at 21,600 v/ph, offering a max power reserve of 70 hours when fully wound, which you can keep track of via the power reserve indicator. The only real difference is the way the movement has been presented and decorated. The architecture of the bridges has been modified to offer a better view of the moving parts beneath and the Geneva Striping takes on more of a sunburst pattern, emulating that of the dial. The finishing is, of course, to an exceptional standard.
As I indicated at the start, these are not new watches as such, but rather aesthetic variations of the popular Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon. Whether this bold new dial design will find favour with collectors or not remains to be seen, so stay tuned for our further impressions from SIHH. www.audemarspiguet.com.