The AP does an X-ray.
As the first onslaught of Royal Oak novelties to kick off the model’s 50th anniversary year, we see the first Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon in a skeletonized configuration.
The first Royal Oak with a flying tourbillon was released in 2020. What we have here, then, is the first iteration of the Royal Oak, which combines an intricate design with a fully skeletonized dial display, ditching the Tapisserie dial embellishment we all know and love.
The Associated Press won’t say ta-ta to Tapisserie for anything. By opening the dial, the brand revealed its new calibre 2972, which only revealed that it was a skeletonized version of the calibre 2950, which debuted as part of the 2019 CODE 11:59 debut.
A look at the watch reveals that it pays particular attention to creating a symmetrical architecture. The gear train flows efficiently south from the mainspring barrel below the white gold hour-markers at 12 o’clock, to the flying tourbillon oscillator at 6 o’clock.
I’m a huge fan of the Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked for Only Watch 2019 and it’s great to see some of the aesthetic code (pun very intended) of the movement in this watch carry over to today’s release.
Audemars Piguet handles skeletonization in a very traditional way. Excess material, such as bridges and cleats, is discarded as much as possible without compromising functionality or efficiency and allowing light to enter the nooks and crannies of the movement, usually invisible to anyone other than the individual watchmaker who assembles the watch these materials. Caliber yourself. AP says it used a combination of CNC and EDM fabrication to create the final skeletonized architecture we see today.
Of course, designing the damn thing was just the beginning of Audemars Piguet’s work. More visible components means there are more parts to decorate than ever before (no one wants to see unfinished angles on their anniversary tourbillon). The press release provided by the Associated Press for today’s announcement reads like a Sysphean torture task list – featuring tire features, brushed in three different trims (satin, round and sunburst), snail and hand-polished inverted Horn. I can imagine how these chamfers would sing under the lights to elevate the three-dimensionality of the whole movement.
This is a watch tied to the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak, so there’s a lot of history at play here as well. Audemars Piguet actually launched the world’s first self-winding tourbillon watch as early as 1986, and the first tourbillon to join the Royal Oak collection happened to be 25 years ago in 1997. The first skeleton tourbillon came out soon in 1999, and the first flying tourbillon debuted in the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak concept car in 2018. The flying tourbillon also lays the heart of everyone’s favorite superhero watch, the 2021 Friendly Community Royal Oak Concept Panther.
It can be said that the new Royal Oak Automatic Flying Tourbillon Skeleton watch has a lot to offer. I haven’t even mentioned the beautiful 41mm x 10.6mm stainless steel case. Because what other metals would Audemars Piguet use on the grand day of the Royal Oak?
Watches like this tend to make me a little giggle. There’s so much to see and absorb, it’s hard to focus on one detail. The Royal Oak is an absolute holy grail for a number of reasons, one of which – at least for me, is the flexibility of the platform.
Although it misses one of the model’s signature aesthetic details on the Tapisserie dial, the fascination of the movement’s construction and the visual interest of the one-minute flying tourbillon more than makes up for it.
Really, I think until the 100th anniversary of the Royal Oak, all I need is this watch and a magnifying glass. I’m sure this will keep me busier for the next 50 years.
Alas, I’m probably still 50 years away from paying the cost of the Royal Oak self-winding flying tourbillon skeleton. I didn’t have to make a “request” to know it was way beyond what any BNPL lender would fund me today. But boys can dream.
Brand: Audemars Piguet
Model: Royal Oak Self-winding Flying Tourbillon Skeleton
Reference number: 26735ST.OO.1320ST.01
Diameter: 41 mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Dial Color: Rhodium-plated Skeleton Movement; Slate Grey Inner Bezel
Index: Platinum luminous hour markers
: Yes, Super-LumiNova on hands
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Stainless Steel Bracelet
Movement: Audemars Piguet 2972
Functions: hours, minutes, flying tourbillon
Power reserve: 65 hours winding
: Automatic winding
Additional Details: 271 Components