Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar: For most of our existence on Earth the Sun and Moon have been our official timekeeper. As early as the mid-16th century watches had begun to feature sophisticated complications including: day, date and phases of the moon. However, the precision of these watches weren’t quite exact, it wasn’t until a century before the industrial revolution in the 1700s where accuracy and reliability in mechanical horology harmonised.
In 1955 Audemars Piguet produced the very first series of perpetual calendar wristwatch to feature a leap year complication, the reference 5516 (pictured above). The premier timepieces are generally, in recent history, referred to as ‘Simple Calendar’s or ‘Triple Calendar’s (day, date and month). The true display of horological innovation can be noted in the New Audemars Piguet Perpetual Calendar, which possesses what one may call primitive artificial intelligence. The timepiece knows that February has 28 days for three consecutive years prior to the leap year when the 29th day is added.
It has been said that the “Perpetual Calendar timepieces are part of the DNA of Audemars Piguet”. Audemars Piguet created one of the greatest horological advancements of the late 1970s when the manufacturer released the world’s thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar wristwatch, measuring an extraordinary 3.95mm in thickness. In accordance with the shift in case size, the new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar measures 41mm but is still rather thin. The magnified case size came as a blessing in disguise allowing one to greatly appreciate the overall aesthetics and legibility gave birth to a ‘Grand Tapisserie’ dial design.
On first impression the new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar has a very industrial appreciate, a theme which is highlighted by the bracelet links, crown and synonymous 8 screw bezel, an aesthetic salute to the manufacturers heritage achieving popularity in 1875.
The 2015 release is available in two colour variations of pink-gold or steel both with classic Audemars Piguet hour and minute hands. The circular-grained finished dial is also available in two colours an alabaster white with the connotation of purity, whilst its companion breathes a blue exhale of loyalty and trust. Pink-gold or steel batons mark the hours of 2 through to 11, with the exception of 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. While four subsidiary dials can be seen comprising the essential indications of a perpetual calendar complications in the place of the traditional hours indicating; the month display at 12 o’clock, the leap year at 3 o’clock, the astrological blue and white monogrammed moon phase at at 6 o’clock and lastly the week days at 9 o’clock. An outer inclined chapter ring with corresponding central hands an additional layer of time measurement designates the 52 weeks of the year. Adjustments to the Perpetual Calendar function are made via recessed pushers on the case band, which have been nicely integrated.
The timepiece is built with the larger modernised 4.31mm thick 5134 automatic calendar, which has been modelled after its predecessor, the calibre 2170. The complexity of the movement is wonderfully showcased on the reverse through glare proof sapphire crystal. In regards to the movement, the suspended barrel, which aids extra thinness, is adorned with circular Geneva waves and the wheels are circular satin-brushed. The mainplate is also circular grained, while all the bridges are bevelled and adorned with Geneva waves, the flanks are satin-brushed and all bevels are hand polished. The 22 carat gold monobloc oscillating weight is engraved with “Audemars Piguet”.
One is told implicitly throughout life not to strive for perfection because one will end up disappointed, but, “To break the rules, you must first master them” the New Audemars Piguet is the latest chapter in a 140-year-old streak of incredible defiance.
The new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, as mentioned, is available in stainless steel and 18-carat pink-gold, with either a blue or off-white dial and is priced at £44,500 and £69,800 respectively. For more information, visit the Audemars Piguet website.