118 Make It Two
Two hearts are better than one, says the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked beats with two hearts
For a watch company that is constantly associated with A-list celebrities and the crème de la crème, it is easy to think of Audemars Piguet as a maker of expensive, trendy watches one wears to hob nob with the who’s who of society’s uppermost echelons or gain membership into the most exclusive rich boys’ clubs. While that is by no means false, it is also true to identify Audemars Piguet as a bona fide high watchmaking manufacture. Indeed, horological precision and chronometry have always been at the forefront of its watchmaking philosophy and if one needs any reminder of this side of Audemars Piguet, simply take a look at the new Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked.
Audemars Piguet devotes a large portion of its research and development efforts to improving precision and chronometry. The approach with which it does this is also a particularly commendable one. According to the technical director of Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi, Giulio Papi, the manufacture continually seeks to bring improvements to watchmaking by using traditional methods and materials. In other words, expect no shortcuts – and yes, Papi considers silicon a kind of shortcut. Therefore, all of Audemars Piguet’s technical achievements are guaranteed to be perpetually serviceable and the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked is no exception.
The first of its kind, this timepiece uses two free-sprung variable inertia balance wheels attached to the same axis. Swinging in opposite directions, each controls an individual hairspring, the idea being that such a mechanism enables gravitational forces on the hairsprings to be effectively cancelled out. This geometry is similar to the AP escapement introduced in 2005 in that it utilises two hairsprings, but unlike the AP escapement, it also uses two balance wheels, both oscillating at 21,600vph or 3Hz. The reason for having two balance wheels is because an oscillator with more mass is more stable and, consequently, more precise. With it, Audemars Piguet is able to reach +12/-2 seconds of deviation per day, and needless to say, this mechanism is patent pending.
And as if it wasn’t enough to innovate on the movement’s chronometry, Audemars Piguet just had to set a few more obstacles along the way. Not just the escapement with double balance wheels but the entire movement can be seen, thanks to the intricate skeletonisation work done on both sides. Since the 1930s, Audemars Piguet has been perfecting its savoir-faire with skeletonisation, or openworking, which it continues today. The filing, decoration, and finishing here were all done by hand, as witnessed by the gorgeous, perfectly bevelled sharp internal angles. Whether in stainless steel or pink gold, the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked is a masterpiece that sates both the artistic and scientific senses. MOVEMENT Self-winding Calibre 3132 openworked movement with double balance wheel and 45-hour power reserve
CASE 41mm in stainless steel or pink gold STRAP Stainless steel or pink gold bracelet with AP folding clasp PRICE $61,800 (steel) $107,700 (pink gold)