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An in-depth look at what’s the future of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Watch? To figure this out, we have to look back It's Audemars Piguet's R&D platform, but after the groundbreaking 'Universelle', is the concept on its way out? replica swiss watches

It’s a question I’ve been thinking about for the past year: What will happen to the Royal Oak Concept?

Last year, when Audemars Piguet released the mind-bending Code 11.59 “Universelle” watch, which featured 17 complications, it was a huge moment for the brand. This watch not only cemented (or rather reminded the world of) Audemars Piguet’s position as one of the most interesting complications specialists, but it also gave the Code 11.59 the “R&D” label. It's a milestone for a series that was widely panned by the internet upon launch (although Code is slowly gaining fans). But this time, the Code not only grew into a stand-alone and simple watch, but also showed that it could become one of the most complex things Audemars Piguet has ever done.

But here's the thing: I think this should be Royal Oak Concept's job. Back in 2015, the Royal Oak concept case shape became the birthplace of the first RD watch, equipped with Supersonnerie’s technical innovations. In fact, the company was so intent on proving the Supersonnerie's quality that when it came time to build the prototype, AP chose the worst-sounding material: platinum. Not only is it one of the heaviest watches I've ever used, it's also one of the loudest minute repeaters I've ever heard. It was incredible and I was hooked. It makes a lot of sense to test a concept product in this form factor, but it is the last RD concept product. It's the brand's research and development platform, and it's very large, allowing for experimentation with materials and movements that can't be accommodated elsewhere - at least not yet. But when the RD#4 came out, I suddenly saw a world where this Concept would be discontinued within the next five years. My immediate question is: is this the end of the Royal Oak concept?

I’ll admit that my love for the Royal Oak concept watch stems in part from first noticing one on the wrists of John Mayer and earlier Pharrell a few years ago Watch. I immediately thought of the idea for this watch, which is a more refined version of what Richard Mille has been doing for years - big, bold watches that rely heavily on experimentation with materials, yes , technological innovation. To use a watch writer's metaphor, it wears smaller than the usual 44mm x 16mm (ish) dimensions, but nonetheless, it's a quintessential rock star watch. Even though I tried many times, my gut told me I would never succeed, but I still loved it. This is a high quality replica watches that makes me imagine being someone else.

You could make a strong case that over the past 50 years, the core of the Audemars Piguet brand has been defined more by the intricate craftsmanship of watchmaking than by a single design or shape. 1978, in particular, marked an extremely important moment for the brand with the release of the 2120/2800 movement, the thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar movement at the time. Over the next 18 years, Audemars Piguet produced 6,508 watches equipped with this 3.95 mm thick perpetual calendar watch, as well as 791 skeletonized watches, of which the large 39 mm case Royal Oak was probably the most iconic at the time. Sexy watch. In an era marked by an arms race for high complications, Patek Philippe launched the Caliber 89 movement on the occasion of its 150th anniversary, followed by IWC’s Destriero Scafusia and Gerald Genta’s Grande et Petite Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar watch. But the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar was one of the earliest wristwatches and arguably one of the most iconic, and it stayed that way for a while.

The birth of the concept
Fast forward to 2002, Audemars Piguet imagined the future of this iconic shape by releasing the Concept Watch 1 (or CW1) to commemorate the Royal Oak’s 30th anniversary. The concept car is aptly named as it is inspired by concept cars often released by automakers to tout cutting-edge developments and showcase the future of the industry. It is also far from the ultra-thin 2120 movement.

I'm still curious why the Royal Oak concept isn't considered more of a brand-defining icon. Its aesthetics were bold for the time. Stylish, futuristic, large – AP tells me this could be considered the first truly 21st century watch. From a utilitarian point of view, the original responsibility of the designer was that a watch must condense all possible technological innovations into a single watch and be able to withstand being thrown against a concrete wall without being damaged.

To achieve this, the watch features a case made of Alacrite 602, an innovative alloy of cobalt, chromium, tungsten, silicon and iron that is stronger than steel but has never been used in any other used again in the watch. The bezel is made of polished titanium. The movement itself serves as the dial, while emphasizing that the movement plates, bridges and tourbillon cage anti-seismic support system are all made of forged carbon. The watch also offers new features, including a dynamometer (which displays the quality of torque on the mainspring), a function selector and a linear indicator of barrel revolutions. Best of all, the fabric strap is made of Kevlar.

“This concept really represents freedom and limits,” Audemars Piguet’s director of development, Lucas Raggi, said when I spoke to him about the topic last year. “We saw it as an opportunity to explore in terms of mechanics, materials, ergonomics, but also being one of the first watches to not have a dial.”

This watch is revolutionary for Audemars Piguet. But you can also immediately see the similarities between the Royal Oak concept watch and the RM-001 released by Richard Mille a year ago. This is no coincidence. At the time, Audemars Piguet was already a major investor in the renowned company Renaud & Papi, which was influential in the development of the RM-001, a partnership that has deepened over the years. At the time, the tourbillon was considered an extremely fragile regulating mechanism, but Richard Mille turned it into a nearly shockproof and eye-catching design element. A year later, Audemars Piguet took it to the next level.

In the 13 years between CW1 and RD#1, the brand continued to innovate with concepts. 2008's Concept Carbon gave the brand a chance to experiment with forged carbon, titanium and ceramic, arguably setting the stage for future all-ceramic releases. The watch is powered by caliber 2895 with twin barrels, a 237-hour power reserve, a function selector, and a chronograph with an unusual linear counter. The function selector at six o'clock on the dial shows whether the watch is set to wind (R for pendulum), neutral (N for neutral) and set (H for hours). In 2011, Concept GMT adopted a 237-hour power reserve tourbillon, canceled the chronograph, and added a GMT function. This may be the simplest and most conservative version of the Concept. This is a practical, fully functional version, and most notably, the movement architecture design language on the dial side is the closest to what we see today.

“The concept is also very convenient because it’s thick,” Raj told me with a laugh. "When you want to try some new mechanisms, sometimes you need a little space to do that. So, for all of those reasons, we've been exploring technical watchmaking with this concept over the past few years."

The Michael Schumacher Concept Lap Timer, launched in 2015, was AP’s first truly focused innovation on the difficult-to-make chronographs of the 21st century (or even the 20th century). The AP 2923 caliber features a single chronograph that moves two central hands and can be triggered independently by three pushers. While the two standard pushers function normally, a third pusher at nine o'clock stops one chronograph hand and restarts the other from zero, allowing for lap intervals. The similarities to MB&F's later LM Sequential are obvious, but the Concept Laptimer does it all with a more traditional layout.

And then Marvel - well, sort of. Although the introduction of the Black Panther Concept has caused quite a bit of controversy in the watch world, this is not the first major change in the role that concept watches have played in the AP series. As early as 2018, Audemars Piguet launched its first women’s concept watch, as well as the 2951 movement equipped with the brand’s first flying tourbillon. But from a visual perspective, the technical achievement largely takes a back seat to the 38.5 mm white gold case set with 460 baguette or brilliant-cut diamonds. Over the years, it released various other metal and gemstone variants of the women's concept watch, all equipped with the same flying tourbillon, cementing the watch as a design platform that was almost as important as a technical platform. This was followed by the release of a frosted rose gold 38.5mm concept watch created by haute couture designer Tamara Ralph, itself a reference to the 2020 launch collection, pictured below.

The watch community filed a disgusting lawsuit against Marvel's distribution. I'd say Black Panther left a much more profound impression on me than I thought it would, even though I still didn't like it. The eyes of the statue on the dial are lifelike and mesmerizing. But the watch’s only real complication is the same flying tourbillon found in the Ladies Concept series—no massive horological innovation.

Another defining factor of concept watches is that their releases were never particularly large. For example, the CW1 was in production for at least five years, but only 140 were produced in series, with 14 other unique watches made for top customers. The Michael Schumacher concept car is made up of 221 parts, each one representing a point earned during his Formula 1 career. The recent collaboration with Tamara Ralph only totals 102 pieces. While many of the other products are not officially limited editions, their production is certainly limited. replica Zenith Chronomaster Sport Watches

When I spoke with Raggi last year, he told me that it was clear from the beginning that the new “Universelle” would need a round case for release, but at the time (development of the watch began in 2016), Code 11.59 wasn’t even available. exist. I don’t know if that means the code existed for this landmark achievement, but from the start, this watch was not destined to be a Royal Oak Concept. So, does this mean we're about to see the end of the series?

Learn from the past
Over the last year, I’ve been poring over AP’s archives and getting my hands on various watches from the brand’s history. The earliest watch I can see is from 1893, an extremely complicated pocket watch that predated the brand's iconic "Universelle" by six years and featured a grande sonnerie, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, split seconds Rattrapante needle, moon phases and clever “safety devices”. bezel", locking the function from accidental activation. The watch is most likely based on the Louis-Elisée Piguet ebauche, produced by AP and signed by Dürrstein & Co., Dresden & Glashütte i.SA and Glashütte Uhrenfabrik Union.

The watch belonged to Hungarian Bishop Károly Emmánuel de Csáky from 1893 until the 1930s, before being presented to the future Pope Pius XI on Csáky’s death Achille Ratti. The Pope then gave the watch to his personal physician, Dr. Amanti Milani. The Associated Press purchased the watch from Christie's in 2013 for CHF 437,000. Call it pre-universe; it's a massive pocket watch and for a history geek like me, you'll be glad you got the chance to own it.

More important, however, are the other watches AP selected for me—examples I chose to prove that the brand has never limited its complications to one collection, model, or even case shape. Sometimes it's a case of form follows function, but even stranger, sometimes function clearly definitely precedes form. Take Millenary Tradition d'Excellence Number 5 as an example. Launched in 2006 in an edition of only 20 pieces, the watch has an oval platinum case and features a tourbillon, perpetual calendar, twin barrel movement and 7-day power reserve. The watch also features a locking mechanism to eliminate the undesirable torque range of the drive spring.

Two other fascinating examples of strange combinations of function and form are the unusual displays in the 1929 “Streamline” pocket watch (featuring a full calendar, movement-side moon phase and minute repeater), and the much later 1995 “John Shaeffer" star wheel minute repeater. Both are interesting proof that for AP, complexity and design are never “one or the other” propositions. It's also proof that AP's past is indicative of its future.

“Take the Code 11.59 Starwheel project, for example,” Raggi said. "The first exploration is to use what we have in the past to evolve it, of course, and to solve design problems, if there are any. So I often work with museums. I often say to Sebastian [Vivas, American Associated Press Heritage Director], “I think we invented something. "So when we would meet, he would bring some kind of old pocket watch that was very similar, like a 1903 pocket watch. It just proved that we had a wonderful history that was very rich in inspiration." replica Breitling Chronomat Watches

Ideas last forever
As I wrote and researched this story, I had to admit that there was at least some evidence that my immediate fears about the possible demise of the concept might be overblown. In fact, the evidence is clear. When the RD#4 appeared, it was joined by the GMT Big Date Split-Hands Concept Chronograph in a new 43mm case. What if few people talk about it? Apparently the Concept was never as popular with audiences as the Royal Oak. The concept's price and limited availability put it entirely inaccessible, to the point where it might just be a figment of the imagination for the average consumer.

But the new concept offers a lot of clues about the future of the series. First, you have to look back at Audemars Piguet’s chronograph history to better understand the latest achievement of the Concept Split Seconds. Over 100 years ago, during the heyday of the brand's experimentation with complications (many of which were based on LE Piguet ebauches), approximately 50% of the chronographs produced by AP were split-seconds devices. But when the brand entered the watch era, everything changed. Between the launch of its first watch and 1996, AP only produced a split-seconds chronograph in 1949.

The problem is that chronographs are one of the most difficult mechanisms to develop in a novel way. Harder and more fragile is the split-seconds chronograph, with its massive bridges and levers that extend to the center column and operate the rickety wheel of the second chronograph hand. On the Concept Split-Second GMT Big Date Chronograph, the split-seconds device is cleverly designed to be installed in the ball bearing of the oscillating weight. It makes everything more compact while making the watch one of the few automatic rattrapante chronographs on the market. It makes sense that this would be tried out in concept watches first and then implemented elsewhere - such as its eventual "Universelle". However, that is backward.

“This moment started about a year after ‘Universelle,’” Raj told me. "When we started in 2016, it was not initially named RD#4, but was an open project - a project for experimentation. The specifications were not finalized at the beginning, so we were willing to try. For example, Later, a tourbillon and a grande sonnerie device were added. In order to reduce the thickness of the movement, we also had the idea of integrating the split-seconds device into the ball bearings.” replica RICHARD MILLE RAFAEL NADAL

"We immediately transferred the ball-bearing mechanism to the new concept car. But you'll notice that we also transferred the big date. In a way, you could say that Moment was the first baby of 'Universelle.'"

Frankly, AP probably doesn't need this concept as much as it did in 2002. Perhaps at some point the concept of innovation was redefined within AP, or rather, beyond the limits within which innovation must exist. The RD#2 is an ultra-thin movement that theoretically must be housed in a Royal Oak case – a concept watch can never be an ultra-thin watch. The RD#3 was designed to prove that the giant Royal Oak could accommodate the exacting dimensions of a tourbillon.

So, the questions kept piling up and bothering me. If one of the best things about the concept of AP is the freedom that size brings, what happens when you master size and complexity? Do you still need a more tolerant platform? So, I asked Raj my very tough questions. Will this concept disappear in five years?

"No, not at all," he told me. "We have made significant progress on concepts that will be ready over the next few years and the themes of exploration will remain the same. You know, we will be celebrating a major anniversary in 2025 and our plans continue through 2030 years or so. Our philosophy, volume and frequency of development have never been stronger."

The Royal Oak Concept won’t take its final bow, but will continue as before, at least for now. This collection no longer serves simply as a platform for AP's inability to experiment, but continues to serve as the culmination of the Maison's push to push itself technologically, not only with the advantage of a more forgiving size, but also to draw on the lessons learned over the past 12 years and to Continue to do so on an unprecedented scale. Jacob & Co. EPIC X CHRONO MESSI Watches

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