The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar receives a number of esthetic and technical updates, once again showing the mastery of the horological arts that defines Audemars Piguet.
Royal Oak Perpetual
Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Perpetual calendars hold a particular fascination by the very scale of timekeeping, which is contained within such a small machine. Going from the smallest unit of time that we generally deal with, a second, to the largest, a year, with months, days, hours and minutes in between, is a mechanical feat in itself, but to be able to contend with the little quirks we’ve had to add to adjust for what amounts to rounding errors in the Gregorian calendar (i.e. leap years), is a tremendous achievement. It’s a complication that also requires a true appreciation, if not admiration, for the art of mechanical watchmaking, for it’s one – no matter how user-friendly the watchmakers have endeavored to make it over the years – whose process of setting each individual indication relative to each other takes patience and an understanding of that particular watch and movement. Stories abound of those who either adjusted the calendar at the wrong time of day, when key indicators were in the process of changing (occasionally with a nefarious effect on the movement), or who too hastily advanced the calendar – either having to restart the sequence and advance through a whole year, or, in some cases, having to send the watch back to be reset by a watchmaker. With all that in mind, you can understand that a perpetual calendar tends to be a prized possession in any collection, and there is a high change that this will be a status enjoyed by the latest watch to be equipped with this complication from Audemars Piguet: the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar. The unassuming name does not immediately lead you to see the numerous updates that have been made to the legendary watch. You may recall that the Royal Oak was first introduced more than 40 years ago, at a time when steel and luxury watches were not often terms that were closely associated. It took a few years before watch enthusiasts around the world took to the design, but since then, it has evolved into one of the industry’s true icons, instantly recognizable and associated with the illustrious Swiss brand. The new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is now presented with a 41mm case, which purists may decry but which truly does fit today’s standards and trends towards larger watches. However, these same purists will have little to say when they see that the movement, a new caliber 5134, which has been enlarged so that it is an adequate fit for the larger case. In the same vein, the dial also sees its pattern enlarged, and is dubbed “Grande Tapisserie” – all in the name of more balanced esthetics and better legibility of the perpetual calendar indications. Speaking of these, the usual functions are present: day, date, month, hours, minutes, leap year, and moonphase with an astronomical moon. On the periphery though, the watch also shows a more unusual indication with the week number; while few countries use it on a regular basis, it is often referred to in production and business environments, particularly in Europe. It also provides an interesting degree of granularity within a perpetual calendar, as it shows a sub-division of the year, which we are aware of but seldom enumerate. Even with these numerous functions, and automatic winding, the caliber 5134 is only 4.31mm thick. Add to that the case, which includes a sapphire display back so that you can peer at the superlative finishing on the movement, and the watch comes in at a slender 9.5mm thick. Audemars Piguet’s clever approach to updating the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, with subtlety and technical flair, has created an instant classic, and one that will surely appeal to many who have yet to discover the intricacies of this classic complication.