The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and its iconic octagonal case and integrated bracelet need no introduction. It is one of the most iconic watches of the industry and the one that sparked the “Luxury Sports Watch” concept (and its subsequent fame). This watch has been revisited in hundreds of editions, complications and materials. Ceramic, a trendy and modern composite, also made it to the RO, in black. Recently, the brand introduced a new version of the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in white ceramic. Bold isn’t enough anymore to qualify this watch… Controversial for sure, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t desirable.
Before we even start looking at this watch, it has to be said: this watch isn’t made for the masses. Not because of its high price or because of its scarcity, but because of its uncompromising looks. It won’t appeal to a large audience, it will probably be hated by some and on the other hand, it will be desired by a few. In a way, this is a positive remark, because it shows how Audemars Piguet dares to launch segmenting, emotional products. Love it or hate, but you can’t deny it makes an impact.
Ceramic is still a big deal for the Royal Oak
In 2017, just ahead of the SIHH, Audemars Piguet introduced its first full-ceramic Royal Oak model, with a perpetual calendar. Some will argue, rightfully so, that it was far from being the first watch manufactured entirely in ceramic… Rado and Chanel had used ceramic amongst others. However, you have to take one thing into account when it comes to the Royal Oak; the sharp shape of the case and its complex bracelet. Things suddenly became a lot more complex.
The first full-ceramic Royal Oak was based on the thin and complex QP model and was entirely black. When we introduced the model in 2017, we wrote: “Beyond the modern black aesthetics, 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“.
Manufacturing a case in ceramic is now fully under control. However, a bracelet like the one used on the Royal Oak is way more complex especially if the aim is to achieve the same finishing and quality found on a steel model with its ultra-sharp facets, polished bevels, articulated links and brushed surfaces. Each link of the bracelet is unique in size and width… “This does not make manufacturing easy and this is a further demonstration of the brand’s ethic of no-compromise – especially when you know the numerous steps involved in producing ceramic parts,” said Xavier back then.
The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar White Ceramic
Moving from black ceramic to white ceramic doesn’t simplify the manufacturing process, so for this part, this version remains equally hard to produce. And no debate either on the overall quality of the watch: it is superbly executed, precise, sharp, detailed. But you wouldn’t expect anything else from Audemars Piguet.
This Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar White Ceramic was introduced (and available) right before summer, which clearly suits the concept behind this watch. Fresh, bright, luminous, almost nautical with its deep blue dial, it is impactful, not especially discreet – but let’s be honest, that wasn’t the objective here. This watch is a talking piece, a watch for those who already have dozens of other watches and who want something different and daring. Period. The Royal Oak has never been a conservative watch, and this white ceramic model is by far (and intentionally) one of the least conventional models.
This RO is clearly not meant to be conservative. It will generate (positive or negative) emotions.
White isn’t a colour that we often see for cases. We’re used to white metals for sure, but white is far more luminous and bright, and ceramic doesn’t have the same shine and reflections as metal and has a uniform, slightly matte colour. Once the first impression is gone – this watch really does make a strong impression the first time you strap it – this result is a rather fascinating, unusual timepiece with a personality of its own. Also, the dial has far more contrast in this context than with any other watch.
With its casual, sporty, summery look, this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar White Ceramic has presence and a certain elegance. Not the discreet elegance of a Calatrava, but an attractive, captivating elegance. Being extremely solid, scratch-resistant and light, ceramic means you can stop worrying about ruining the surface with scratches and enjoy its lightweight pristine white personality.
For this edition, Audemars Piguet went for a classic blue “grande tapisserie” dial (produced in-house) with silver contrasting sub-dials. The white inscriptions and the white luminous material in the hands and indexes match the white case perfectly. The display is the same as all Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars, with the unusual indication of the week number on the inner flange. Day, date, month, leap year and a moon phase (laser microstructured on a sparkling aventurine background) complete the QP complication.
Powering this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar White Ceramic is the calibre 5134, just like its steel or gold siblings. This ultra-thin (4.31mm) automatic movement is 29.00mm in diameter and has a 40-hour power reserve. Its balance has variable inertia blocks and runs at an unusual 19,800 vibrations per hour. The finishing is very detailed, with Geneva stripes, circular graining and nice bevels. The rotor also shows great decoration. The astronomical moon only requires a correction every 125 years and 317 days.
A watch such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar White Ceramic is clearly not meant to be conservative. Its price, its low availability, the hype surrounding the model, the look, the boldness of the white ceramic case… All of this creates a watch that will be regarded as provocative and exuberant. And guess what…? That’s exactly why I think it’s so desirable. It generates (positive or negative) emotions.
Price and availability
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar White Ceramic (reference 26579CB.OO.1225CB.01) is a boutique-only edition, not limited per se, but produced in low volumes. It won’t be easy to get your hands on one. It is priced at CHF 94,300 (or EUR 95,300, USD 93,900), the same price as the black ceramic version.
More details at www.audemarspiguet.com.