INTRODUCING: The velvety black beauty of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked Black CeramicZach Blass
If there is any single watch to lovingly blame for the craze of luxury sports watches with integrated bracelets, it’s the Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet. When initially launched in 1972, it wasn’t the beloved reference it has become today – in fact, many people were confounded by its introduction, especially given its hefty price tag in steel. Since its launch, however, the Royal Oak has taken the watch-collecting world by storm – with celebrities from The Rock to Jay-Z opting to sport the coveted timepiece. It has also undergone many evolutions; its technology endlessly upgraded with new complications and case compositions. This week the collection welcomes another novel entry in the form of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked Black Ceramic.
The black ceramic case is a modern 41mm in diameter, and manages to retain the exquisite hand-finished externals seen on the metallic models within the catalogue. To achieve AP’s standard of finishing on a ceramic canvas is no easy feat, but the hallowed manufacturer was more than up for the challenge. The bezel, bracelet and case maintain the rich satin brush the Royal Oak is known for, as well as the hints of high polish that light up as the watch moves on the wrist.
It has a screw-down crown, which ensures the watch is truly water-resistant to a depth of 50 metres. The bracelet is entirely fashioned in black ceramic as well, including its AP folding clasp. The only portion of the watch not rendered in the material is the exhibition caseback that’s made from titanium and sapphire — because who doesn’t want to see this gorgeous movement from all angles?
The movement is not only visible on the flipside of the watch, but also proudly displayed front and centre. The open-worked slate grey dial creates a gorgeous maze of gears and bridges that are all chamfered and bevelled to the highest quality. Open-worked dials can prove a tad illegible with the network of visible mechanics making it harder to tell the time at a glance. But Audemars Piguet has made two great choices to help sidestep this issue. First, the hour markers and hands are fashioned in a contrasting pink gold, which increases legibility against its slate-grey backdrop. Second, the hands have received a luminescent coating, which means the time is readable in darker settings as well.
The watch is powered by the self-winding manufacture calibre 3132. Made of 245 components, this movement is a feast for the eyes, regardless of how immersed you are in the hobby. The most interesting aspect of the watch from an horological viewpoint is its use of two balance wheels. According to AP, “This patented innovation, released by Audemars Piguet in 2016, improves the watch’s precision and stability. By incorporating two balance wheels and two hairsprings assembled on the same axis, the system oscillates in perfect synchrony.”
To highlight this technology, the balance wheels are the only components of the movement, other than its winding rotor, to be fabricated in pink gold. The 3132 caliber has 38 jewels, a beat rate of 21,600 vph, and a power reserve of 45 hours.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked Black Ceramic pricing and availability:
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked Black Ceramic is available now as a boutique exclusive. Price: $80,300 US.