Originally designed as a time-and-date model when it was introduced in 1972, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has since been offered with countless complications, including the most complex of them all, a grand complication. The tourbillon, an AP speciality is, of course, no stranger to the Royal Oak and was first used in the iconic luxury sports watch in 1997 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this model. Today, the latest evolution is revealed, this time with an automatic flying tourbillon movement, first launched in Code 11.59. Available in three versions, including a surprising titanium edition, here’s the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 41mm.
Looking at the current Royal Oak collection, you’ll notice that there is already a tourbillon model. Yet, this iteration of the RO is hand-wound, features an extra-thin movement and its tourbillon cage has a classic architecture, with bridges front and back. Today, the brand introduces something more modern and with a movement that has never been used before on the brand’s luxury sports watch, the Calibre 2950 that was first used on Code 11.59. And while this isn’t the first automatic tourbillon movement used on the RO, this is the first to combine a self-winding mechanism and a flying architecture.
The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon will be available in three different references, but before we look at them in more detail, let’s look at common points. The case for these new models measures 41mm in diameter and is slightly thicker than the aforementioned extra-thin models – at about 11.5mm. Other than that we find the same design as all other editions of the RO, with the signature octagonal bezel with 8 gold screws, the shaped case and the integrated metallic bracelet. All watches combine sporty brushed surfaces with beautifully polished accents.
Concerning the dial, two of the models (steel and gold) have a guilloché surface with 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 titanium model is, on the other hand, quite different and entirely new.
A detail worth noting is the applied 24k gold Audemars Piguet signature, a first in the RO. This specific applied logo was first created for Code 11.59 and is achieved through a chemical process akin to 3D printing known as galvanic growth. 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.
The in-house calibre 2950, a movement that was first introduced in the Code 11.59 collection and that combines flying tourbillon – an architecture that was first used by AP in 2018, in the ROC – and automatic winding is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback. The movement, entirely decorated with Haute Horlogerie techniques (the Geneva stripes are, however, different from Code 11.59, as here radiating), is large and modern. It beats at 3Hz and boasts a comfortable power reserve of 65 hours. Depending on the edition, the openworked oscillating weight is made from pink gold or rhodium-toned pink gold.
The steel version
The first of these three Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon models is offered in stainless steel with a blue dial (Ref. 26530ST.OO.1220ST.01), a classic combination for this watch that refers to the original 1972 model. Both the case and the bracelet are executed in the typical RO style, with brushed surfaces and polished bevels.
The dial of this steel edition, besides having the modern and striking “Evolutive Tapisserie” pattern, is also executed with a gradient smoked effect, with a darker periphery than the centre of the dial. This gives depth to the flying tourbillon while also providing great contrast for the white gold hands and applied hour markers.
The Titanium version
The second version of the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 41mm (Ref. 26530TI.OO.1220TI.01) is the most surprising and distinctive of the three. First of all, its case is made of grade 5 titanium, a material that is rarely used on the RO (except some limited editions, and often combined with platinum). The use of titanium results in a different colour (colder than steel) and mostly, in a watch that is more comfortable on the wrist, thanks to the lightness of this metal.
The second impact is the dial, which presents a sleek, monochromatic alternative to the Royal Oak’s trademark “Tapisserie” pattern. This slate grey dial has an unprecedented sandblasted central surface and the chapter ring is executed with a snailed pattern. The signature hands and markers are, on the other hand, retained.
The 18k pink gold version
Last but not least, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 41mm will be offered in a warm and luxurious 18 pink gold edition (26530OR.OO.1220OR.01) with a matching integrated bracelet. On this edition, gold accents are also found on the dial hands and markers, on the tourbillon cage and finally on the oscillating weight.
Its dial also relies on the modern “Evolutive Tapisserie” pattern radiating from the centre of the tourbillon. It has an appealing grey colour with gradient smoked effect, the periphery being darker than the centre.
Availability & price
These three new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 41mm are released in the permanent collection. The watches will retail for CHF 129,000 in steel and titanium, and CHF 159,000 in pink gold.
More details at www.audemarspiguet.com.