Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked Frosted
Audemars Piguet has dropped six new Royal Oaks, including a trio of new Audemars Piguet 41mm Frosted Gold Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked with Rainbow gem-set bezels.
The three watches represent the first time Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked has been available in a larger 41mm case with the rainbow bezel. It is presented in 18k pink, yellow (also firsts) and white gold references finished with Audemars Piguet’s stippled Frosted Gold, developed for the brand by jeweller, Carolina Bucci.
Set against slate grey NAC-coated skeletonised movement bridges, the double balance wheel is coated in case-matching tones, while the hour markers and luminous hands are made of matching pink, yellow or white gold.
An existing 37mm white gold model is also joined by references in 18k pink and yellow gold, with matching gold open-worked dials, offering all three metals in both sizes.
The fourth model is a 38mm 18k pink gold Royal Oak automatic chronograph with vivid purple Grande Tapisserie dial created using multiple layers of PVD coating in a number of difference shades including pinks, blues and purples. Audemars Piguet has matched the shade with a gem-set bezel using 32 baguette-cut amethysts.
The final two drops are houses in deminuative 34mm cases, one in full black ceramic with pink gold accents while the other pairs a white Frosted Gold case with a powder blue Tapisserie dial.
The watches are available now as a mix of boutique exclusives and via AP dealers. For more information head over to Audemars Piguet.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked watch (debuted here) was the first timepiece I was drawn to at SIHH 2016. Audemars Piguet offered a truly dizzying array of new watches at the show, and of course, their iconic Royal Oak collection received a lot of the attention in the form of mostly very high-end new models. One of the very few new Royal Oak watches in steel was nevertheless quite high-end in the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked – and, of course, it also comes in 18k pink gold.
When I debuted this new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked collection with its novel in-house made caliber 3132 automatic movement, I did not have one very crucial piece of information. That information was just how much more accurate the “Doublebalance” concept that Audemars Piguet developed to increase the stability of the regulation system’s performance actually is. Audemars Piguet was looking for a way to decrease the accuracy-reducing effects of a balance wheel’s natural tendency to shift its performance based on a range of variables. Everything from the position in which you hold your wrist to the temperature can make small changes in how the balance wheel operates, which can dramatically affect accuracy over time.
The holy grail for any mechanical watch movement maker is to have an utterly solid and perfectly stable regulation system which is not affected by environmental variation. Of course, in a timepiece worn on the wrist in various situations, this isn’t really possible, but what is possible are systems which increase rate stability and thus accuracy over time.
So getting back to the point, the brand claims that the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked watch’s calibre 3132 movement is 30% more accurate than similar movements without the system. That is a not an insignificant performance boost, and lovers of accuracy (and Royal Oaks) will likely flock to this beautiful concept. Of course, Audemars Piguet could have just hidden this new system in the case of a watch or made it only visible through the case back, but they went “full skeleton,” showing off their new movement with pride and style.
The calibre 3132 automatic movement operates at 3Hz (21,600 bph) with a power reserve of 45 hours. The 245-part movement is debuted in a beautiful “openworked” form complete with a showy pink gold balance bridge. The movement’s novel concept is all about a “two-sided” balance wheel structure. A central rod (pinion) connects the balance wheels with hairspring structures. These two balance wheels are connected, but technically operate independently. They “average each other out” (so to speak) with the notion that the occasional errors of one will be compensated by the more “true” operation of the other.
The balance wheels are actually quite close to one another, so that if you were to look at the movement operating and not know what to look for, you might easily miss then entire special notion of the 3132. In many ways, it operates like most other movements, but with a more stable (translated into accuracy over time) regulation system.
Audemars Piguet performs their typical high level of decoration and finishing of the skeletonized movement. The result is beautiful, and one can easily forgive the minor reduction in legibility as compared to solid-dial Royal Oak watches. With that said, there is a fully in-tact scale of applied pink gold hour markers and matching hands. Moreover, even though there isn’t an official power reserve indicator, the mainspring barrel is skeletonized, which offers a sort of a crude power reserve indication system by allowing one to see how tightly wound the spring is.
In keeping with a modern sense of style, the 3132 movement has bridges that are mostly dark gray toned and finished with very traditional surfacing techniques such as perlage, brushing, and polished beveled edges. The movement is masculine but traditionally beautiful with a nice mixture of colors, tones, and areas to focus on visually – not to mention having a nice level of aesthetic balance.
According to Audemars Piguet, this is actually the first 41mm-wide Royal Oak watch case to have a skeletonized dial. With that said, it isn’t the only 41mm-wide Royal Oak Openworked (skeletonized) watch for 2016. In steel, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked makes a lot of sense, but in 18k pink gold, you have a totally different watch. Speaking of gold, it is important to mention that Audemars Piguet is really trying to return to 18k yellow gold as an option for Royal Oak watches this year. Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine the difference yellow gold makes on the wrist versus pink/rose/red gold, but the two versions of gold are very distinct.
Given the amount of metal in the Royal Oak case and bracelet, the difference in price between the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked in steel and in pink gold is certainly not inconsequential, at about $30,000. A Royal Oak with a skeletonized dial is further very different looking from a Royal Oak with a more traditional “Mega Tapisserie” dial – so this type of artistic dial execution makes the entire composition of the timepiece feel highly distinct, even for those familiar with wearing Royal Oak watches.
Back in 2016, the Double Balance Wheel Openworked hit the market and sent pretty big shockwaves through SIHH. It featured an entirely new caliber and a hand-finished, openworked double balance wheel mechanism (not to be confused with the double balance escapement). The watch was first released in a 41mm case that was either stainless steel or rose gold, and now the hand-finished caliber 3132 is available in a white gold case measuring 37mm. But that’s not it. Not even close. The new case also features the FROSTED GOLD TREATMENT. Yes. Things are getting crazy up in here.
As usual, Audemars Piguet is introducing a lot of new products at SIHH 2018. While doing something new with an existing movement isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it is awesome that a major brand such as AP wants to offer such a cool movement in different sizes (there is also a plain rose gold 37mm version too, in case you were wondering). This size the sweet spot for many of us, and while Frosted might not be your thing, it’s all about choices. I think this is fantastic. A Frosted Gold watch with the double balance wheel openworked movement? Sign. Me. Up. Much like the Van Cleef and Arpels Planétarium and Romain Gauthier Insight MicropRotor Lady, this is up there as a cool ladies’ timepiece that is both beautiful and technically intriguing.