The New Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked Ceramic
The bold and desirable full-black ceramic Royal Oak QP, now with high-end skeleton movement.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and its full ceramic Perpetual Calendar versions – full black and now white too – have been some of the most sought-after modern watches for some years now. You understand why when you handle these watches… The full ceramic case and bracelet are nothing but superbly executed. To add to the desirability of this model, Audemars Piguet today introduces a new, hand-finished skeletonized version of this watch in the collection. Meet the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked Full Black Ceramic.
Luxury Sports Watch, Full Ceramic
The new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked is based on the black QP version that has been presented back in 2017. As we told you back then, when having our first look with this watch, having the signature Royal Oak case and bracelet fully executed in ceramic was nothing short of an achievement. Full ceramic watches have existed way before the Royal Oak, however, the specific shapes and finishing of this watch, and its complex integrated bracelet, make things slightly more difficult than a soft-defined J12 for instance.
The new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked retains all the attributes of the stainless steel RO watches. Its case, with its distinctive tonneau-shaped central container, is topped by the iconic octagonal bezel with 8 white gold screws, measures 41mm in diameter and 9.9mm in height, which is relatively low considering the complications and the new movement – for the record, all the non-openworked versions of this watch are 9.5mm in height, whatever the material. The case is water-resistant to 20m only, but in the end, who will ever put such a watch underwater.
The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar might not be the first full ceramic watch… But it certainly is one of the best
The main attraction isn’t the shape of the case, perfectly known, but the fact that is is made of black ceramic. Compared to steel or gold, ceramic is far more difficult to machine. And when you take into account the sharp shape of the case and its complex bracelet, things suddenly become a lot more complex. As said in our article on the black ceramic QP, “Ceramic is one of the hardest materials used to craft cases but it is also light and wearable. The stated aim by Audemars Piguet is to finish its ceramic case and bracelet to the same standard as that of a steel Royal Oak. Not an easy feat by any means, and one that was only made possible after 600 hours of R&D. The finishing of the bracelet alone requires 30 hours, which is five times longer than for the steel version“.
The result is, however, pretty impressive. Apart from the colour and the lightness, the case and bracelet are as sharp and precisely adjusted as a steel version. The surfaces are all decorated in the same way too, with brushed areas enlightened by bright polished bevels on the side of the case and the bezel, as well as on the edges of the bracelet. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked, as all other full-ceramic RO, is extremely pleasant on the wrist, with a well-controlled weight, an ultra-flexible bracelet and the unique sensation of ceramic, which isn’t cold as metal alloys.
Despite being black, this watch makes quite a statement. The combination of the Royal Oak case/bracelet, with this black ceramic material and the complex dial gives a watch with presence. It won’t fly under the radar but it is also superbly executed, on every angle.
QP x Openworked
The main novelty on this Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked is to be found dial-side (and movement-side too, but more on that later). Audemars Piguet has a rich history when it comes to perpetual calendars, whether pocket watches or wristwatches. The Le Brassus-based manufacture has always been one of the top representants of this complication and continues to show it in its Royal Oak collection – especially with the recent introduction of the Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, the world’s thinnest QP.
This new Openworked is AP at its best: design, innovative material, complications, hand-decoration.
In the context of this Perpetual Calendar Openworked, we basically find the same technical base. This means that the display remains equal, with indications of hours and minutes (no seconds) on the central axis, date at 3 o’clock, weekday at 9 o’clock, month and leap year at 12 o’clock, moon phase at 6 o’clock and a unusual indication of the week number on the periphery of the dial – something quite rare in watchmaking. All the indications have been kept, however, no more dial neither tapisserie pattern here.
The classic patterned dial has been here by a sapphire crystal dial, with all the indications printed on its surface. To enhance contrast and provide better legibility, the external zone of the counters (where the indications appear) have been smoked. The dial is decorated with pink gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands and the moon disc is made of aventurine.
The beauty of this version is that it offers a superb, uncluttered view on all the components of the perpetual calendar mechanism. This includes multiple wheels, levers, pinions and springs, including the snailed wheel that actuates the date as well as the programmed wheel for the month. Some of these components have been treated in gold-colour too, to match with the hands and indexes.
This sapphire dial also allows seeing the superb decoration of the calendar parts, with straight- or circular-grained surfaces or bevelled angles on the levers and springs. On the other hand, the dial of this Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked is very busy resulting in a watch that isn’t the most legible we were given to test. But was that the objective here? Not sure.
The Manufacture calibre 5135
To power this Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked, Audemars Piguet introduces a new version of its signature automatic movement. It is based on the calibre 2121, the ultra-thin movement that is found in the Royal Oak Ultra-Thin Jumbo 15202 and easily recognizable with its oscillating weight with an annular ring running on four jewels. The calibre 5135 in this Openworked versions also shares its specifications with the calibre 5134 of the other QPs. In this instance, it is a thin movement (4.31mm) with unusual 2.75Hz frequency and 40h power reserve.
The main difference comes from the skeletonization, as we’ve seen on the dial side but this also goes for the movement side, which is also decorated with openworked parts. Whether you look at the bridges, the cock, the barrel drum or the ratchet wheel, all have been hollowed and decorated with superb attention to details. Note the multiple internal angles on the bridges as well as the polished bevels on the wheel spokes – all of which are executed by hand.
Price and availability
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked (reference 26585CE.OO.1225CE.01) won’t be a limited edition, however, due to the complexity of its full ceramic case and its hand-finished skeletonized movement, it won’t be mass-produced. In addition to that, this watch is a boutique-only edition. Expect it to be quite difficult to acquire. It will be priced at CHF 130,000 (excl. taxes).
More details at www.audemarspiguet.com.
Skeleton watch with moon phase. My two least favourite watch things. Very messy dial. It would be interesting to know just how much lighter it is than the metal alternatives.
It is intriguing to realize exactly how much lighter it is than the metal other options.