DOU­BLE THE FUN

This year is def­i­nitely Aude­mars Piguet’s year. They have not only launched a great range of nov­el­ties, but also un­veiled two great watches that serve en­tirely dif­fer­ent pur­poses: the RD1 Con­cept and the Con­cept Lap­ti­mer Michael Schu­macher.

Esquire Singapore Watch Guide - - SPECIAL FEATURES - Words by Steve Huy­ton

THE ROYAL OAK

from Aude­mars Piguet was un­veiled in 1972 at Basel, and a year later, the pro­duc­tion model was launched. It was done out of ne­ces­sity at a time when su­per-ac­cu­rate and cheap quartz watches hit the Swiss mar­ket, dev­as­tat­ing it. Aude­mars Piguet had al­ways made time­pieces with pre­cious me­tal, and the only way to sal­vage their rep­u­ta­tion and also stay ahead of the game was to ex­pand their range and reach out to a new au­di­ence. With this so­lu­tion, Aude­mars Piguet cre­ated a new line with the use of stain­less steel, which made it more com­pet­i­tive. They ap­proached industry mav­er­ick, Ger­ald Genta, and asked him to de­sign a watch for them. Aude­mars Piguet pro­vided the brief, and within 24 hours, the watch de­sign was com­pleted.

Thirty years on, that watch is now a mod­ern icon at Aude­mars PIguet. It has since moved on from just stain­less steel to be­com­ing a pro­lific range of time­pieces that in­cor­po­rate some of the most hi-tech ma­te­ri­als, as well as some of the most com­pli­cated com­pli­ca­tions. The Royal Oak is a real multi-tasker that never ceases to en­ter­tain and amaze its fans. It is also the highly revered watch­maker’s best-sell­ing model.

Ear­lier this year, in Geneva, we met the RD1 Con­cept, the first of its kind from Aude­mars Piguet, which in­tro­duced a minute re­peater so deaf­en­ing, it could be heard from across the pre­sen­ta­tion room. De­liv­er­ing the loud­est sound of any minute re­peater, ever, need­less to say, it was im­pres­sive. And the sec­ond time­piece in­tro­duced in May 2015 was the Con­cept Lap­ti­mer Michael Schu­macher.

RD1 CON­CEPT

Since 2002, Aude­mars Piguet has been pro­duc­ing con­cept watches that have taken cen­tre stage in the horo­log­i­cal world. Last year’s Royal Oak Con­cept GMT Tour­bil­lon was strik­ing with its hour­glass strut and stand­out white pal­ette, and set the bar quite high. It seems, how­ever, that the folks over at the man­u­fac­turer’s con­cept watch pro­gramme have de­cided to raise that bar again by re­leas­ing the Aude­mars Piguet RD1.

Even an un­trained eye will ap­pre­ci­ate the re­fine­ment and the new age aes­thet­ics of the RD1. The case is ti­ta­nium, with a brushed fin­ish and glare-proof sap­phire crys­tal glass. The iconic Aude­mars Piguet oc­tagon frames a semi-skele­tal face that shows off the watch’s tour­bil­lon, which is nes­tled at the six o’clock po­si­tion. The cut­away an­gles on the cas­ing bring a mod­ern ar­chi­tec­tural edge to the piece by clev­erly draw­ing the eye and ac­cen­tu­at­ing the con­trast­ing black strap. The hands, crafted in white gold, stand out strik­ingly against the black, satin-brushed dial and in­lay. The RD1 is the epit­ome of every­thing Aude­mars Piguet.

Be­neath the ex­cel­lently con­structed ex­te­rior lie even more im­pres­sive feats of me­chan­i­cal ad­vance­ment. Be­sides the chrono­graph and the tour­bil­lon, the RD1 has taken strides for­wards by in­cor­po­rat­ing a fine-tuned, acous­ti­cally sculpted minute re­peater with an all-new strik­ing mech­a­nism reg­u­la­tor that is al­most silent.

Draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the clear tones en­gi­neered for chim­ing watches, the en­gi­neers in Aude­mars Piguet’s con­cept watch pro­gramme set about try­ing to cre­ate the per­fect minute re­peater sound. They take their work se­ri­ously. So se­ri­ously, in fact, that they cre­ated The Aude­mars Piguet Acous­tic Lab, to at­tempt to achieve the same level of acous­tic per­fec­tion cre­ated by the chim­ing watch­mak­ers of old, be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of wa­ter­proof cas­ings ul­ti­mately damp­ened any sound pro­duced. This may seem an odd di­rec­tion to take, but it is one that has taken this watch an­other me­chan­i­cal notch up, in its pur­suit of sonic per­fec­tion.

Af­ter what we can only imag­ine as a very long time spent lis­ten­ing to the sound of a watch, the Aude­mars Piguet con­cept watch pro­gramme en­gi­neers emerged vic­to­ri­ous. By

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