AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK CONCEPT RD#1 (2015)
WHAT IT IS:
A true concept watch in every sense of the word, the Royal Oak Concept RD#1 was the culmination of an eight-year long research programme into the acoustics of chiming watches. Audemars Piguet had already begun its research in-house when it roped in Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, a Lausanne-based university and research institute, for its engineering expertise.
Although the watch also contains a tourbillon regulator and a chronograph complication, its highlight is the minute repeater – an unusually loud one that can be heard from across a room. Developed based on a specially created profile of ideal sound characteristics, the minute repeater is unique for the “hard” parameters it had to meet, unlike traditional minute repeaters that typically rely on a watchmaker’s subjective experience. Alas, as a concept watch, the RD#1 was not for sale, and held several technical secrets that were not revealed as they were still patent pending.
Audemars Piguet followed up in 2016 with the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie, a production watch that improved on its predecessor’s technical features, chief of which was a “soundboard”. Made from a sonorous copper alloy, the soundboard functions like a guitar’s soundboard – it’s excited by the gongs it’s attached to, and vibrates with them, with its larger surface area moving more air and amplifying the gongs’ chimes.