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.
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.
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