Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT is housed in a 44mm sandblasted titanium case, paired with a grey ceramic bezel. The dial is openworked and features blue-toned bridges. The hand-wound movement, the Calibre 2954, features a flying tourbillon, function selector and a user-friendly GMT indication. While this latest creation is clearly modern, it harnesses much of the Maison’s legendary skills and techniques.
In 1972, Audemars Piguet launched its inaugural Royal Oak. This watch broke all the rules, eschewing precious metals in favour of steel. The case was octagonal and the bezel featured eight screws. Interestingly, the screws, made of white gold, were not functional and merely served as an aesthetic feature.
The Royal Oak is considered by many aficionados as one of the greatest sports watches of all time. It was the brainchild of Gérald Genta, probably the most famous watch designer of the 20th century.
Eager to mark the 30th anniversary of the Royal Oak back in 2002, the Maison from Le Brassus created a futuristic watch, the Royal Oak Concept. This initial concept watch (ref. 25980/D003) featured a number of indications, including hours, minutes, a power reserve and a function selector. In addition, this hand-wound watch featured a tourbillon and a dynamograph at noon. The case was made from titanium and alacrite 602. This latter material is a strong alloy consisting of cobalt, chrome, tungsten with traces of carbon, silicon and iron. Over subsequent years, AP has unveiled various iterations of the Royal Oak Concept, each encompassing bold styling and cutting-edge materials.
Now, the brand from the Vallée de Joux has once again showcased its watchmaking prowess by releasing the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT. Upholding the Concept theme, this latest addition to the brand’s collection is conspicuously neoteric. The 44mm case is formed of sandblasted titanium, while the bezel is presented in grey ceramic. This combination of materials is also employed on the crown and pushpiece.
The dial is openworked and features blue-toned bridges while the prevailing time is expressed with plump Royal Oak hands lined with luminescent fill. The watch is supplied on a blue rubber strap paired with a sandblasted titanium AP folding clasp. An additional black rubber strap is also supplied with the watch.
Despite its almost other-worldly appearance, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT is a highly practical ownership proposition. The GMT function features a numerical display adjacent the crown, providing a user-friendly means of indicating the home time. Moreover, this timepiece is water-resistant to 100m, meaning it won’t mind getting its hair wet from time to time.
Consistent with the original 2002 Concept Watch, this latest model features a function selector. There can be uncertainty whether the crown is in position 1 or position 2. However, on this model, the pushpiece at 4 o’clock allows the wearer to select the desired mode (hand-setting mode (H) or winding mode (R) or normal operation (N)) before manipulating the crown. The system is highly intuitive and eminently sensible.
High complications are a regional speciality of the Vallée de Joux. This particular model is equipped with a flying tourbillon, a complex feature that draws upon the vast expertise of this historic firm. Unlike a ‘regular’ tourbillon, a flying tourbillon eschews an upper bridge, affording superior views of the balance, pallet lever, escape wheel and cage all in motion.
This only leads me to ponder, with the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak just two years away, what can we expect from AP to mark this occasion?
The brand’s press release (September 2020)
Blending titanium and grey ceramic, the case offers an ultra-contemporary frame for the cutting- edge openworked movement ticking within. The sandblasted titanium case is complemented with a sandblasted grey ceramic bezel—a combination of materials which extends to the crown and push-piece.
Sturdy and refined, the case echoes the watch’s high-end hand-wound mechanism it encloses. Its impressive 10-day power reserve will appeal to those seeking adventurous and more extreme lifestyles. Endowed with a flying tourbillon and contemporary functions, Manufacture Calibre 2954 defies the power of gravity with style. The dial reveals its two-tone openworked aesthetics juxtaposing sandblasted blue titanium bridges and silver-toned components. Fully visible at 9 o’clock, the flying tourbillon is complemented by a crown position indicator at 6 o’clock and a second time- zone indicator at 3 o’clock.
The movement’s blue bridges, also visible through the sapphire caseback, are matched by a blue rubber strap. The watch additionally comes with a black rubber strap.
Launched in 2002 to commemorate the Royal Oak’s 30th anniversary, the Royal Oak Concept established a new aesthetics for 21st-century Haute Horlogerie. A real platform for creativity, the Royal Oak Concept has evolved over the years with a wide array of technical materials, high-tech looks and ultra-modern movements.
Images – © Audemars Piguet