Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Chronograph - Here is the Royal Oak 2.0
Since it was originally unveiled at the 2013 SIHH, I've always been a big fan of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept. In my opinion, it represents the perfect evolution of an instant classic timepiece and every time that the manufacturing company from Le Brassus releases a new model, I always feel a bit of excitement mounting inside. The Royal Oak Concept GMT Tourbillon (that had the privilege to be the very first item to be reviewed during the Swiss watch fair) has paved the way for an entire new collection. That is something that I was really looking forward to seeing; a collection made up of high-end, ultra advanced timepieces featuring state-of-the-art mechanical calibers.
The last chapter of this new saga is represented by the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Chronograph, a new model that comes to the market in two different variations (one is made of titanium and the other one is made of rose gold) and is equipped with an impressive array of features geared towards the most experienced and demanding watch connoisseurs. The 2941 caliber is a cutting-edge movement that boasts up to 12 days of power reserve thanks to a twin-barrel system that has been entirely conceived in-house. The best efficiency rate is achieved when the watch is fully wound and when the level is getting close to only 1 day of power reserve left, a patented system automatically kicks in and it prevents the barrel from further unwinding, so that the energy is released at a lower pace and the watch's precision is maintained at its fullest. You can check what level of power reserve is left by using the hand placed on the indicator (where the "medium" power reserve level indicates that 7 days have gone by since you have fully wound your timepiece the last time.)
If you observe the movement from atop and across the dial, you will immediately notice that this timepiece is all about complex designing and and that it is an even more complex mixture of different high-quality materials and treatments. One of the special materials used for the manufacturing of this timepiece is the so-called 'anodized aluminum', which is utilized to craft the central bridge. This part is then sapphire-blasted to prevent the chronograph's components from coming into contact with the parts made of forged carbon. The chronograph's bridges are made of nickel silver alloys that have been coated with PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition.) Crown and push-pieces are, as it common with Offshore watches, made of ceramic. When it comes to the use of ceramic material on its watches, Audemars Piguet works quite differently if compared to its competitors; in the last two years I have had the chance to study quite a few Royal Oaks and the aesthetical and technical results that this brand is capable of achieving always amaze me.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Chronograph is equipped with a linear minute counter; that means that every time that the central chrono hand elapses, the 30 minute counter (white and black openings) almost instantly jumps from one minute to the next (it actually takes it ½ a second to do so but I'm positive that the company is aiming at reducing this time-frame even further in future applications.) If you observe the watch from the left side to the right one, you will come across the Tourbillon carriage bridges and arm that are made of sapphire-blasted steel and are coated with black PVD with polished bevels and the linear 30 minute indicator. If you turn the watch on its back, you will immediately notice the perfect fit and finish of the back case with its anodized aluminum central bridge and the Control lever that is made of sapphire-blasted steel (hand-drawn first and then coated with black PVD).
The crown drives the H-N-R indicator placed at six o' clock (I would say that it is actually the other way round); 'H' means that the crown is set in the Hour setting position, 'R' means that that if you turn the crown, you will rewind the watch, while 'N' means that the crown has been set in the normal position and that the watch is running normally.
Let's now talk a bit about my impressions on wearing the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Chronograph around my wrist: it is definitely bold and sporty looking (have you ever noticed that there is no bracelet option for any watch from the Royal Oak Concept collection?). Keeping in mind that I am the kind of guy who doesn't really love gold watches that much, it is bizarre to say that the Gold one is actually my favourite one among the two. Both watches share a refined a somehow sand-blasted case with a three-dimensional geometry that seems to be "extruding" or "protruding" from the base to connect to the unmistakable flat octagonal like bezel. I like to think that this watch could be a 2.0 version of the Royal Oak; I enjoy tradition but I also admire it when a manufacturer boldly reinterprets an iconic piece and is able to take it to the next level. If I had the chance to add one of these timepieces to my personal collection (please note that we are talking about an item with a price tag of over 100K euros here) I would definitely go for one of these two watches rather than for any other Royal Oak Offshore with the very same technical features (at least on paper).
I personally find that this Concept's dial is a bit overcrowded, so I would definitely opt for the Gold version instead. If compared to the titanium-made version (that features a somehow darkish dial and has a very tech-savvy look), I think that the rose gold case adds a touch of class and warmth to the timepiece. Since the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Chronograph has been the fourth Royal Oak Concept launched in the last two years, I really hope that a three hands Royal Oak Concept will be Audemars Piguet's next release; a timepiece that won't clash with the classic Royal Oak but that will definitely please all those watch enthusiasts that are not 100% on the classic side and have often looked forward to buying a revamped version of the Royal Oak.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter
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