Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
You should always expect the SIHH to be bursting with new Royal Oak watches. It is something quite inevitable and, from what I could count in the brand's press kit received, there are 49 new models this year! If I were to prioritize a novelty among all of them, something that would allow me to bring back into fashion our "5 minutes on the wrist" section and, at the same time, give you a first taste of what the manufacturer from Le Brassus brought to Geneva this year, I think my choice would be the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin. The name is a bit contradictory in itself, the RD#2 abbreviation could make you think of something technological or of something belonging to a cutting-edge collection, but this is not the case. For that, there is already the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT.
This year's award goes to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin for a number of valid reasons - it is a hymn to the most classic complicated watch-making and the perpetual calendar is one of the most admired complications on a Royal Oak basis. Audemars Piguet has a long tradition in crafting this specific complication and the Audemars Piguet 5133 caliber required five years to be developed and that eventually turned it into the thinnest perpetual calendar on the market.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin case is only 6.30mm thick and that makes it 2mm thinner than an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin Jumbo and it gives the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin the trophy for the world's thinnest perpetual calendar. The year 2018 keeps up the challenge that began in 2017 with other ultra-thin calibers - first it was the Bulgari Octo Finissimo's turn (time only) that was followed, this year, by the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate. The competition has now moved on to the level of complication.
This is the type of competition that is good for the whole watch-making sector, for collectors and enthusiasts alike and that also brings the product back to the main stage. The 5133 caliber comes from the family tree of the Audemars Piguet calibers; a manufacture that crafted its first perpetual calendar in 1955. This caliber wasn't certainly hosted inside the case of a Royal Oak, as it arrived more than fifteen years later, but it says a lot about how much this complication is part of the genetic heritage of this manufacture.
A quick reading of the book that tells the story of Audemars Piguet (a book that I browsed at the brand's headquarter in Via Verri in Milan during last year's Christmas cocktail) completely opened my eyes. The case of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is of a generous and logical diameter measuring 40mm; the perfect balance for this Royal Oak that lies between an Extra-Thin (39mm) and the current Perpetual Calendars available on the catalog that measure 41mm.
The latter Perpetual Calendars are missing a historical reference, such as the positioning of the moon at 12 o'clock rather than at 6 o'clock. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin features a platinum case, a wider distribution of the counters on the dial, but it has lost the display of the weeks through an arrow-shaped hand and it now also separated the leap year display and the day-night indication from the other ones. They are both placed on small counters and rather than being coaxial to the day and month counters, they now intersect them.
If the separate viewing is necessary so as to somehow 'contain' the thickness of the caliber is a piece of information that still must be confirmed, but what can be confirmed already is that all the different components have been arranged on a single layer rather than on the three layers that are needed for a traditional perpetual calendar. When you wear this timepiece, you might as well say that this is definitely one of the most fascinating Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches that you could dream of. At the time of writing, the retail price hasn't been confirmed yet.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®