You Can’t Ask That: Audemars Piguet explores new materialsZach Blass
This is the fourth video in a series of more conversational, and less directly watch-focused, videos that aim to provide richer telling of the Audemars Piguet story. Why is it called, You Can’t Ask That? These are questions and topics that don’t commonly get addressed in the interviews with either Lucas Raggi, the Research and Development Director, or Michael Friedman, Head of Complications. Here Andrew, Michael, and Lucas tackle Audemars Piguet’s upcoming Only Watch piece unique and how the brand approaches new materials such as Bulk Metallic Glass.
If you look at the pinnacle of watchmaking today, the two primary pillars of the Holy Trinity are Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. Both brands have a storied history with a rich archive and portfolio of some of the most complicated and well decorated watches ever made. While they each have a similar dedication and refinement to how they make their watches, today there is a key component that separates the two. When Audemars Piguet first announced their Code 11:59 watch, one of the tagline centered around the idea of mastering the rules before you break them. That is a policy Audemars Piguet has extended to their collection as a whole. Undoubtedly the more youthful and experimental of the pair, Audemars Piguet, as Michael and Lucas explain in this fourth video, look to merge tradition and innovation. It is not something they rush, AP must ensure that whichever new materials they explore they can still meet the technical and aesthetic standards they are world renowned for.
One of their latest innovative adventures has been the realization of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” ref. 15202XT for the 2021 Only Watch auction. This unique watch marks new territory for the Royal Oak, with a case fashioned in titanium and a new palladium based BMG (Bulk Metallic Glass) used for the bezel, caseback, and intermediary or connecting links of the bracelet. The usage of BMG poses an intriguing evolution for the Royal Oak line, because if the material can be utilized in more standard production it will present buyers with a metal that in its polished form will be very hard to scratch (if at all).
In this video, Michael, calling it both a blessing and a curse, acknowledges that while he is a fan of the ceramic era of Royal Oak, he felt its incredible scratch resistance highlighted the aesthetic vulnerabilities of the more commonly used metals that can scratch over time – such as the platinum bezels found on IP Royal Oak Configurations. When he asked Lucas if there was a metal they could use which would exude the same scratch-resistant performance as ceramic, this is where BMG entered the fold. An interesting note to make, AP’s BMG stands apart from other Bulk Metallic Glass due to its incorporation of the most expensive precious metal in the world: palladium.
In the vein of innovation and tradition working in harmony, the ref. 15202XT has new modern design codes such as the replacement of the familiar rich satin brush with sandblasted surfaces, but it also remains faithful to its beginnings with a dial colour and font style that evokes the original A-Series “Jumbo” alongside the accents of mirror polish to the connecting links and case/lug bevels. It is a prime example of how AP looks to work within the conventional constraints of their standards of performance and finishing, but simultaneously seek out ways to push the envelope and incrementally bring their collections into the future.
It is great to see such a rooted and traditional manufacture willing to take risks and explore more modern materials to use, but as Lucas explains, “it is a matter of coherence, coming in the right collection, the right products, the right quantities, and the right time.”