Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak may be the Swiss maker’s best-known design, thanks to its multitude of stylistic and technical iterations. The latest version is a study in inky contrast.
For the very first time in the horologist’s history, the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked is available with a black ceramic case and coordinating bracelet. The 41mm case acts as a frame for the newly redesigned noir dial, whose palette is only interrupted by the pink gold-tone double balance wheel mechanism.
More than just a show of mechanical expertise, the innovation was launched in 2016 as a means of improving a timepiece’s precision and stability. The combination of two balance wheels and two hairsprings assembled on the same axis means the entire system can oscillate in perfect harmony. Its warm gold-tone hue is echoed by hour-markers and hands in addition to the 22-carat pink gold weight visible through the clear case back. This is in turn sealed with a titanium ring engraved with the phrase “Royal Oak Double Balancier” to specify the mechanism within.
This new iteration is just the latest development in Audemar Piguet’s refinement of the openwork configuration the company has specialised in since the 1930s. Its artisans begin with the completed design and then work backward to reverse engineer how the components will actually come together in the completed product.
Their efforts are clearly visible thanks to glare-proof sapphire crystal across the face and case back, which also reveals part of the rhodium-toned gear train on both sides. Its delicate parts tick via an in-house, self-winding Calibre 3132 movement with 38 jewels and 48 hours of power reserve. Water-resistant up to 50 meters, its streamlined bracelet secures shut with a branded folding clasp.
The Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked will be available exclusively in Audemars Piguet’s boutiques beginning this December for £73,200.