The Royal Oak is, without a doubt, one of the most emblematic watches of the industry and the most iconic watch of its manufacturer, Audemars Piguet. And rightfully so, as when it launched in 1972, it defined a new genre known as the luxury sports watch. Since then, for almost 50 years, the brand has derived the concept in multiple forms, and with almost all complications available, including tourbillon regulators. Last year, Audemars Piguet presented an update of its Tourbillon RO, with the new Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 41mm collection here. Recently, and discreetly, the brand launched a new take on this watch, with a platinum case and a dial in what’s possibly the hottest colour currently, in a superb light blue. We had the chance to get our hands on one of these rare and desirable Platinum 26530PT.
The very idea of having a tourbillon swirling through the dial of a Royal Oak is far from new. Yet, it didn’t come right at the time of the introduction of the model, but it took 25 years for the brand to embark on the concept. Audemars Piguet decided to make the tourbillon inside the RO case something special and the very first time this anti-gravity regulating organ was used in the RO was as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the model, in 1997, with the reference 25831, a highly limited watch produced in very low quantities. And, until recently, this watch remained the only RO Tourbillon to be fitted with an automatic movement. The second step in this lineage came for another important moment in the life of the Royal Oak, for its 40th anniversary in 2012, with the launch of the Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin, a hand-wound watch with all the attributes of the collection (including a slender case). And until last year, this was the only option for those who wanted a tourbillon-only RO watch.
Things changed in late 2020, when Audemars Piguet unveiled the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 41mm, a modern take on this collection and on the complication, mixing classic design elements, new dials and mostly, a movement from the latest generation introduced into the Code 11.59 collection. Slightly more robust and overall more modern, this watch was first presented in steel with a smoked blue dial, in rose gold with a smoked grey (both with “Evolutive Tapisserie” pattern) and in a surprising titanium edition with a subtle and attractive sandblasted dial.
For 2021, the collection enlarges with the discreet introduction of a high-end, desirable platinum version of this watch, the reference 26530PT and its stunning dial. As such, technically speaking and regarding the specifications, there’s not much that has evolved compared to the steel, gold or titanium editions. It’s here all about colours and materials. Thus, we find back the same 41mm case – the same diameter as the hand-wound Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-thin and an average diameter for modern editions of the Royal Oak, other than the classic Jumbo model. Yet, because this new Flying Tourbillon edition has an automatic movement, its thickness has slightly increased to now 10.7mm – which remains totally acceptable considering the selfwinding capacity. The case also retains all the attributes of other Royal Oak watches, with its signature 8-sided bezel with hexagonal screws, the combination of brushed surfaces and polished facets and a 50m water-resistance.
Of course, being made entirely in platinum – which also includes the integrated bracelet and the clasp – this Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Platinum has some presence on the wrist. No debate, it is heavy due to the density of the metal but the weight is nicely distributed around the wrist and if not as comfortable as the titanium version, this 26530PT is not as scary as one could imagine. The case and bracelet, with brushed surfaces and polished accents, also has a different shine and colour than steel or titanium and feels colder, yet more precious too.
The main reason to take a closer look at this watch is, without a doubt, its dial. First of all, and if the look feels familiar, it utilizes the rather impressive “Evolutive Tapisserie” pattern, a modern take on the classic tapisserie pattern introduced in 1972. More graphic, its textured radiates from the centre of the tourbillon, creating a focal point that brings the eye to the regulating organ at 6 o’clock. Dynamic, novel, and still superly executed, this engine-turned pattern really adds to the modernity of this edition. As often for the brand, this platinum Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon comes with a light blue dial that not only greatly matches with the colour of the case but also has a unique sense of originality… and light blue seems to be the colour of the moment!
One detail to note is the presence of an applied Audemars Piguet logo at 12 o’clock, resulting from a complex 3D printing process called galvanic growth. Executed in 24k gold, each letter is connected with thin links almost invisible to the eye. The signature is then fixed on the dial by hand with minuscule legs. This technique was first used in Code 11.59 and now finds its way onto the dial of the Royal Oak.
Powering this watch is a modern in-house engine, the Calibre 2950. It made its first appearance in 2019, in the Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon. Large, robustly built and automatic, it was also one of the first flying tourbillons of the brand – which only started to use it in 2018, in this Royal Oak Concept watch. As you can see, contrary to a classic tourbillon regulator held in place by a bridge on both sides, a flying tourbillon is cantilevered from the lower side of the movement and dial-side appears to float due to the absence of a bridge, leaving an unimpeded view of its rotations. Other than that, this Calibre 2950 is all about modern solutions. It is an automatic movement with a central rotor and offers a comfortable 65h power reserve. The decoration is very pleasant, with vertical Geneva stripes, bevelled bridges and a rotor that is openworked and finished with multiple inward angles, as well as a discreet evocation of the iconic octagon.
Availability & Price
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Platinum and Light Blue dial (ref. 26530PT.OO.1220PT.01) is released as part of the permanent collection, yet not made widely available… not a watch you’ll easily find at your local retailer. Its price isn’t disclosed by the brand but expect over CHF 200,000 (excl. taxes). For more details, please visit audemarspiguet.com.