INTRODUCING: The menthol-fresh Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Limited Edition in 18k white goldThor Svaboe
In a week marked by the one-millimetre revolution, Audemars Piguet has quietly tip-toed into the room and released a frosty breeze of a limited Royal Oak to everyone’s surprise. As if by magic, a new reference of the perfectly sized 39mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Limited Edition in 18k white gold appeared on their website.
This is no revolution, but rather a superb dial colour variation suiting the white gold to a tee. I’m thinking this is a sharp move by AP, though with a short 100-piece production run they might be gone rather quickly, as this combination is a bright menthol-fresh breeze for the wrist.
The chronograph version of the Royal Oak is, of course, nothing new, but as with any icon, there is a reason behind the status, the same reason it is for many considered the Audemars Piguet of choice. One of these reasons is the delicate presence this king of sleek integrated bracelets has on the wrist with its 39mm diameter and sleek 11mm thickness. I am very much looking forward to trying one of these on, as the svelte nature of the bracelet’s embrace is somewhat perplexingly made more comforting in the gold versions I have experienced. This may be despite, or even because of, its increased weight, or the quiet knowledge of only a few being aware of the precious metal under your cuff. Even from the perfection-infused images supplied, we can tell the extra level of brightness that only 18k in white gold brings to the table. I, for one, enjoy the contrasts of darker coloured dials or details, but here the vision is crisp and cool — as in frosty to a few degrees minus.
Well, that’s what we are here for: the icy powder blue of the dial is perfectly suited to the Grande Tapisserie structure of the chronograph dial, made sharper still by the more serious tone of the navy blue outer minute track creating a rich contrast to the icy raised squares of the dial surface. The running seconds at 6 and registers for the chronograph have the same delicate dark halo delineating seconds and minutes, with crisp Arabic numerals on the circular grained centre. Rhodium-plated and well-known hands complete the picture, reminding us of why the appeal of the Royal Oak is still strong after 40 years.
Clean bevels on the edges, more cricket paddle than sword, and perfectly proportioned with the design echoed in the chunky applied indices of this classic. The date wheel is unobtrusively matched in its blue hue, and you have to be pretty severely no-date obsessed to even imply a disturbance in the force of the blue by the neatly bevelled opening of the window at 4.40, perfectly centred between registers, hence not 30. So a yes to the date from me. As a chronograph – even with a €61,400 price tag, it is a functional timepiece, and the date is an important part of that.
There is not much more to add to the legend that is the Royal Oak case we know, other than it is every bit as comfortable and sleek as it looks. The visage, as always, is dominated by the brushed, bolted and bevelled octagon, with the polished bevels emitting a whiter sparkle due to their precious nature, and delicate vertical brushing in sync with the flat top of the familiar, tank-like slim case. The bracelet is delicately finished and fully brushed with my favourite aspect being the tolerance of the small twin connecting links.
When the bracelet is flat, they appear to be cut into the main flat links by the world’s thinnest, sharpest laser, with close to zero microns at play, one of the more fascinating aspects of this engineered bracelet-made-art. The play of light will be just as sharp as you can imagine while observing the thin bevel marking the outside of the bracelet and continuing onto and along the case — inspiring hundreds of homages for a reason. Neatly angled down where the lugs would normally sit, with a svelte thickness of only 11mm, it is comfortable; its reassuring weight reminding you of the white precious metal embracing your wrist, rather than the more familiar steel.
No changes here: the self-winding caliber 2385 comes with an 18k oscillating weight as a precious reminder of the intrinsic and actual value, and a decent 40 hours of power reserve. The familiar caliber has an integrated column wheel mechanism, decorated just as perfectly and discreetly as you would expect from AP, actuated by the chunky feature of circular pushers within an octagonal brushed frame. Just as pleasing as the large and functional crown.
I have a feeling it’s best to keep this story short, as when news of this quiet debut comes out, the ice blue 18k white gold chronographs will be gone faster than you might think. Cool, sharp, familiar yet fresh, svelte and slim. Three plus three, what’s not to love?
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Limited Edition in 18k white gold price and availability:
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Limited Edition in 18k white gold is USD$59,000, limited to 100 pieces.