IWC and the Antoine de Saint-Exupery Foundation have had a partnership dating...
The Royal Oak is 40 years young in 2012. This spectacular non-conformist watch that has always been ahead of its time has made an indelible imprint on the history of Audemars Piguet. To celebrate this anniversary in due style, the Manufacture in Le Brassus now unveils the Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak, an interpretation combining horological mastery and modernity with a sporting temperament. This platinum anniversary edition is issued in a limited series of just 40.
The year 1972 saw a decisive turning point in the history of modern watchmaking, the introduction 40 years ago of an entirely unprecedented sports watch corresponding to none of the design codes prevailing in traditional watchmaking. A prestigious ultra-thin movement housed in a steel case priced like a gold watch: the challenge was daring enough to ensure that few observers were prepared to bet on the success of this exceptional watch designed by Gérald Genta for Audemars Piguet and presented by the brand in the spring of 1972. Forty years later, the soundness of this approach has been amply demonstrated. Not only is the Royal Oak an ongoing success, but it is more vibrantly alive than ever – witness the latest newcomer to the collection.
A closer look at the Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak celebrating the 40th anniversary shows that it is at once a concentrated blend of the history of this legendary collection, as well as of Audemars Piguet itself and its numerous realms of expertise. As a specialist in ultra-thin movements, the Manufacture in Le Brassus chose this complex horological mechanism to power the very first Royal Oak in 1972. It was the famous Calibre 2121, one of the world’s thinnest mechanical self-winding models at just 3.05 mm thick, that beat at the heart of the first versions of the Royal Oak. Combining within a single timepiece the constraints imposed by an ultra-thin movement and the demands of skeletonisation or openworking represents an impressive feat indeed. That is exactly what is offered in the Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak watch presented to mark the 40th anniversary in a 950 platinum 40-piece limited edition.
Powerful signature codes
The ultra-thin selfwinding proprietary Calibre 5122 revealed through this anniversary model stems from a sophisticated technical and aesthetic accomplishment. This 3.05 mm thick is entirely openworked, including its hanging barrel. In addition to this skeletonisation performed in a very modern spirit, the anthracite colour achieved by galvanic treatment lends a resolutely contemporary aesthetic. All the finishing operations on the bridges and mainplate (polishing, satin-brushing, circular-graining, circular satin-brushing and drawn flanks) are done by hand. The monobloc oscillating weight entirely made in 22-carat gold bears the raised inscription “AP Royal Oak 1972-2012”. Its external segment is adorned with a “tapisserie” motif reminiscent of the characteristic decoration of the dials in the Royal Oak collection. The slate grey dial provides an impressive view of the openworked Calibre 5122. The date disc is made from sapphire in order to preserve the transparency of this movement. The date numbers are transferred in black, and the day is revealed against the grey background of the date aperture made in metallic sapphire with a vertically drawn motif.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first high-end steel sports watch in due style, the Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak watch introduced in 2012 naturally reflects the powerful design features that contributed to imprinting this collection firmly in the collective consciousness. These notably include the octagonal bezel and its eight polished hexagonal screws – consistently made in white gold – held on the case-back side by eight recessed nuts. Fitted between the bezel and case, the visible joint inspired by diving bells, remain a distinctive characteristic of the collection. Nonetheless, the Royal Oak also owes its reputation to the total integration of the case– a definite rarity in 1972 – with the tapering bracelet composed of non-identical links arranged by decreasing order of size. This set of signature features has been inherent in the collection right from its origins and is still sported by all the current Royal Oak models, naturally including the Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak.
Conveying a legendary history
The 39 mm diameter of this Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak is identical to that of the 1972 Royal Oak. Considered outsized and extravagant at the time of its launch, it shaped the trend for larger watches and now represents a medium-sized diameter. The platinum case is water-resistant to 50 metres and fitted with glareproofed sapphire crystals front and back. The new folding clasp, also in 950 platinum, is distinguished by a double safety fastening system.
The Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak reinterprets the original codes and values of the collection and this engraved and numbered model conveying a legendary history is issued in a 40-piece limited series. It vividly expresses the evolution that has transformed an avant-garde watch into a truly iconic model.
Movement: Self-winding Manufacture Calibre 5122 | Thickness: 3.05 mm | Power reserve: approx. 40 hours | Finishings: manual finishings of the bridge (polished bevels, satinbrushed edges, perlage on the recesses), 22K gold monobloc oscillating weight stamped with the raised inscription “ AP Royal Oak 1972-2012 and with “tapisserie” motif on it external segment. | Case: 950 platinum case, glareproofed sapphire crystal and caseback | Water-resistance: 50 m | Dial: Openworked slate-grey dial, white gold applied hour markers | Bracelet: 950 platinum bracelet with AP folding clasp