The Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101
History tells us that the very first Audemars Piguet Millenary dates back to 1980. It represented an important collection for the brand which, only under the direction of Group Artistic Officer Octavio Garcia, has perhaps finally got a clear identity. Le Brassus is often linked exclusively (at least in Italy IMO) to the Royal Oak collection, but if you trace back to the origins of this maison, you soon realize Audemars Piguet is synonymous with longstanding tradition in classic haute horlogerie that over the last years has enhanced the development of collections other than the Royal Oak’s ones, while remaining faithful to classic watchmaking.
The Audemars Piguet Millenary’s road map has gone through different variations and know-how was proven over the years such as the MC12, the Cabinet n°5 or the Carbon One: all of them featuring a linear perpetual calendar rather than a tourbillion with a chronograph for example, while being produced in very limited numbers. Three models, one collection, but somehow not a clear unique brand identity, sometimes classy, some other time sporty.
The Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 is the final choice: the oval does not inspire just the case, but is a geometry that permeates every part of this timepiece: case, dial and caliber with a final touch of neoclassicism by Octavio. The movement, caliber 4101, has been fully conceived and realized by Audemars Piguet and is quite original.
It is a mechanical automatic with the balance wheel vibrating at 4Hz, has a bi-directional 22 gold carats rotor, has been mounted on ceramic bearings and has balance wheel, anchor and escapement in the forefront on the left hand side of the dial. You can clearly see the variable inertia balance wheel and its tiny eight balancing masses. It looks like a timepiece where front and back case sides are not clearly identified and the movement is floating.
The caliber 4101’s bridges are twelve and are Cotès de Gènève, snailing and circular grain finished and creates a sort of wavy design from left to right that ends up with the off-centered applied Roman numerals hour and minute dial. They are, moreover, painstakingly chamfered and polished, so as to show just shiny and sharp edges; the movement has undergone a surface galvanic anthracite treatment on the stainless steel version, while a rodium and gold-plated one on the pink gold version.
Once on your wrist, you quickly realize the Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 is unusually comfortable although 47mm wide and 42mm high. It comes with a black crocodile strap and the classic Audemars Piguet folding buckle in stainless steel or pink gold. It is just not that heavy and this is maybe mostly due to its architecture that vaguely reminds me of a skeletonized wristwatch and its “ring” like case, brushed on the carrure and polished on the bezel.
The Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 is made in stainless steel or rose gold. It is Audemars Piguet’s offering in a highly competitive segment and has, among its selling points an unmistakable design that you may love or hate at first sight, but a superior craftsmanship nonetheless.
From a distance it looks, sometimes, just like a complicated timepiece with a crowded dial, while, close-up, you soon realize you’re in front of something outstanding where even the tiniest detail has been cared for. A white hour and minute dial, for example (on the stainless steel version especially), on the likes of the Cabinet n°5, could easily in my opinion enhance its tri-dimensional design which is among the main features of this collection.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Audemars Piguet; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®