Half a century of life deserves a big celebration, and Audemars Piguet will be pulling out all the stops to fete its Royal Oak. Not only has it hit the 50-year milestone, but its popularity has reached unprecedented heights; just try getting your hands on one. Today, Audemars Piguet releases three new variations of its 41mm Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon with the brand’s latest-generation automatic movement and the legendary Gerald Genta architecture that launched a thousand ships (of copycats). Available in stainless steel, titanium and 18k pink gold, the new Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon models reflect the subtle design evolutions developed for this jubilee year.
The RO gets a Flying Tourbillon
Gerald Genta’s landmark 1972 design for the Royal Oak is considered the precursor of the luxury sports watch category. Although there are countless contenders lurking in the background, no watch design can match the sticking power and success of the Royal Oak. When the Royal Oak turned 25 in 1997, it was given a tourbillon regulating organ, and in 2012, when it reached its 40th anniversary, it appeared in an extra-thin hand-wound version (Calibre 2924). Then, in 2020, following the 2019 release of AP’s Code 11.59 collection and its entourage of brand new movements, the Royal Oak appeared with another tourbillon now upgraded with the Calibre 2950 automatic flying tourbillon movement.
While many features of the 2022 trilogy are similar to the 2020 models, a couple of subtle but very effective design evolutions mark it as a 50th-anniversary model. Although the case size still has a 41mm diameter and a thickness of 10.6mm, the width of the bevels on the case and bracelet are now wider. The wider bevels underscore the play of light between the satin-finished and polished surfaces and accentuate the dynamic architecture of the Royal Oak case even further. To highlight the watch’s slender profile, the first links of the integrated bracelet have a decreasing thickness that lightens the presence of the watch. Another design tweak involves the sapphire caseback that has been slightly embedded into the case middle, so the watch sits better on the wrist.
Return of Grande Tapisserie
A distinctive feature of the Royal Oak, both the stainless steel and pink gold models flaunt a blue Grande Tapisserie dial with an attractive degradé or gradient effect. Unlike the Evolutive Tapisserie pattern that was introduced on the hand-wound tourbillon models in 2018, with a focal point radiating from the centre of the tourbillon, the two smoked blue dials adopt AP’s hallmark Grande Tapisserie pattern. The titanium version is the odd one out and has the same sandblasted dial and snailed chapter ring as the ref. 26530TI we covered last year but in a blue colour for 2022.
The proportions of the white or pink gold hour markers (depending on case material) and hands have also been standardised and are treated with luminescent material. Another detail worth noting is the applied 24k gold Audemars Piguet signature. First developed for the lacquered dials of Code 11.59 models, the signature is obtained using a chemical process akin to 3D printing known as galvanic growth. Each letter is connected to the next letter with thin links that are almost invisible to the eye. The signature is then fixed to the dial by hand with tiny legs.
The in-house automatic calibre 2950 made its debut inside the 2019 Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon. One of the first flying tourbillon movements developed by Audemars Piguet (not counting the 2018 Royal Oak Concept model), the calibre 2950 is a robust, contemporary movement with a 3Hz frequency and a comfortable 65-hour power reserve. The finishings are Haute Horlogerie with hand-polished chamfers, snailing and straight Côtes de Genève to distinguish it from the Code 11.59. All three Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 26730 have a 22k pink gold oscillating weight. The gold rotor has a rhodium tone on the steel and titanium models to match the case material. The oscillating weight was designed to mark the Royal Oak’s anniversary and features the AP signature engraved on its surface and the number 50. Decorated with polished and satin-finishings, the commemorative oscillating weight with the 50th-anniversary logo will only be used during 2022 and removed from models in 2023.
Availability & Price
The three new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 26730 are part of the permanent collection and thus not limited. Prices will be EUR 169,000 for the steel model (26730ST), EUR 175,200 for the titanium model (26730TI) and EUR 192,400 for the gold model (26730OR)
More information at Audemarspiguet.com.