Audemars Piguet: Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT Large Date7 February 2023
Audemars Piguet opens a new chapter for the Royal Oak Concept with the release of its very first selfwinding split-seconds flyback chronograph. Inspired by the collection’s high-tech identity, this timepiece takes the Royal Oak Concept’s futuristic looks, ergonomics and skilled performance to a new level. In addition to introducing both a new 43 mm case size and the first interchangeable strap of the collection, the sporty timepiece boasts a highly contemporary, three-dimensional titanium case playing with textures, depth and light. It is powered by a new cutting-edge movement, the selfwinding Calibre 4407, whose complicated micro-mechanics takes centre stage on the rear side. For the first time, the caseback showcases the advanced split-seconds mechanism which has been inserted within the ball bearing holding the oscillating weight. More than 20 years after the release of the first Royal Oak Concept, the collection continues to offer a pioneering platform of R&D experimentation.
A FUTURISTIC CASE
In addition to introducing a new 43 mm case size, the Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT Large Date in titanium boasts a multifaceted design playing with contrasts and light. The case’s elaborate architecture necessitated complex programming and manufacturing processes to strike the right balance between ergonomics and ultramodern design. The case and bezel are slightly curved to match the natural shape of the wrist, making it comfortable to wear despite the watch’s generous size.
Sandblasted titanium inserts bring the case’s juxtaposition of angular and rounded geometries into bold relief. The sandblasted case is topped off with the Manufacture’s trademark satin-brushed octagonal bezel, whose rounded outline is highlighted by polished chamfers. The combination of satin-brushed, sandblasted and polished surfaces furthers the watch’s textured look, while providing an endless play of light.
The collection’s strong lines are amplified by the watch’s screw-locked crown and push-pieces, all honed from black ceramic. Three-dimensional push-piece guards brazenly secure the pushers at 2, 4 and 9 o’clock, each finished with the same juxtaposition of sandblasting, satin brushing and polished chamfers as seen on the case.
A TWO-TONE OPENWORKED DIAL DISPLAY
Conceived like a movement bridge, the openworked dial gives a glimpse of the complicated micro- mechanics ticking within. The rounded openings have been cut out from a single German silver plate, finished with sandblasted black PVD and polished rhodium-toned bevels. This contrast confers depth and light to this sporty and architectural timepiece, which is further enhanced by the absence of a logo on the dial.
White gold hands and hour-markers, complemented with white transferred numerals spread across the dial, accentuate the watch’s two-tone aesthetic. In addition, the hour-markers, hands, counters, large date and GMT day/night disc feature luminescent coating for optimum visibility in the dark. Red and yellow accents, respectively marking the chronograph and GMT functions, add a subtle, yet vivid touch of colour. A black inner bezel, on which a white tachymeter scale has been printed, completes the watch’s overall design.
A HIGH-TECH SPLIT-SECONDS, FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPH
Ultra-contemporary inside and out, the new Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT Large Datepremieres the selfwinding Calibre 4407 produced entirely in-house. The first of its kind to be produced in a series at Audemars Piguet, it is based on the Manufacture’s latest generation integrated flyback chronograph movement, Calibre 4401, which was launched in 2019 with the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection.
Unlike a regular chronograph, the flyback function allows the wearer to reset and restart the chronograph without having to stop it first. The column wheel works with a vertical clutch system. When starting or stopping the chronograph, the hands respond accordingly without any hint of jumping. Furthermore, a patented zero resetting mechanism ensures that both chronograph and split-seconds hands instantaneously reset to zero.
The split-seconds mechanism enables to measure intermediate time intervals thanks to the addition of a split-seconds hand that can be stopped independently of the chronograph hand when the dedicated pusher is activated. When the latter is pressed again, it catches up to the running hand to continue their journey together around the dial, in perfect synchrony. The action can be repeated at will.
Located at 9 o’clock, the push-piece subtly nods to the Royal Oak Concept Laptimer (2015) – the first mechanical watch capable of measuring consecutive lap times on the racetrack developed in collaboration with Michael Schumacher. To reduce the movement’s height, the split-seconds mechanism has been integrated within the thickness of the semi-peripheral rotor’s ball bearing and is now visible through the sapphire caseback. Usually hidden from view in selfwinding watches, the split-seconds wheel and two actuating clamps can be admired at the centre of the platinum oscillating weight, under the X-shaped bridge holding the mechanism in place.
In addition, the state-of-the-art timepiece encompasses the GMT function, which has become a staple of the Royal Oak Concept collection. The GMT day-night display located at 3 o’clock provides an instant reading of the time in a second time zone. It is adjusted using the crown’s coaxial push- piece at 3 o’clock (one press moves the time by one hour). The GMT system is based on two concentric discs turning at different speed: the hour disc makes a revolution in 12 hours, while the day/night disc completes a rotation in 24 hours and is recognisable by its two coloured areas: a white half for daytime and a black half representing night time.
Lastly, the large date at 12 o’clock enhances legibility with its digital look, while providing perfect symmetry with the small seconds counter at 6 o’clock.
Although incorporating high-tech features, Calibre 4407 continues to uphold fine watchmaking traditions and presents elegant Haute Horlogerie decorations, including sandblasting, circular satin, circular graining and polished chamfers, all visible through the sapphire caseback.
A NEW STYLISED INTERCHANGEABLE STRAP
The new nuovo Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT Large Date premieres the first interchangeable strap of the Royal Oak Concept collection. The interchangeability system has been directly integrated into both the case and the triple-blade folding clasp to enable the wearer to change strap with a quick click and release. The system also provides optimum security when the watch is worn.
The design of the new black interchangeable rubber strap blends in with the facets of the case. The bevels on the case sides extend onto the strap, providing a seamless continuity between the two components. Furthermore, the strap is decorated with symmetrical inserts in grey hues that echo the multidimensional, two-tone aesthetics of both the case and the dial. The timepiece comes with a second all-black interchangeable rubber strap for wearers to style up their watch depending on their mood.
Two additional black rubber straps contrasted with yellow or red accents will be available in boutiques as part of the interchangeable strap assortment for the new Royal Oak Concept 43 mm diameter. (Price CHF 170,000 + Tax)