Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Selfwinding Revisits A Horological Icon

This year sees the 50th anniversary of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, an horological icon that spawned an entire, and enduring genre. The manufacture has thus deemed 2022 as the year of the Royal Oak, with a slew of new references that are a template for collection going forward. Worry not, for the Royal Oak remains in all of its eight-sided, integrated bracelet, slotted screw, ‘tapisserie’ dial glory – the changes are either internal, or quite subtle. Amongst the core range, these new references include 11 of the classic time-and-date Royal Oak Selfwinding in 37mm, five 38mm chronographs, and 12 41mm chronographs. These are found in either stainless steel (naturally) or rose gold, and a variety of dial colours – including the new ‘Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50.’ This is homage to the dark blue found on the original 1972 Royal Oak, re-created via a modern PVD process.

The Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin

The external tweaks include enlarged bevels on the top and bottom of the case to emphasize the satin/brushed finish contrast, a caseback which sits flusher with the case middle to promote wrist comfort, and the first four links of the bracelet now engineered in a trapezoid shape to make the bracelet’s taper more dramatic. The links are thinner now, making them lighter and more comfortable; this is something first seen on gold models several years back, but is now standard across materials.

Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin

The dial of the Royal Oak Selfwinding sees what might be the most significant change, as the minute markers that were formerly on the external ring circumference are now positioned directly on the dial itself. Replacing the applied ‘AP’ monogram and printed ‘Audemars Piguet’ signature is a new signature, created in gold with the galvanic gold process that was first used on the Code 11.59.

Internally, the 37mm models sport a new, thinner movement in the 60-hour Calibre 5900, which beats at a faster 4Hz rate compared to its predecessor, the Calibre 3120. The 41mm chronographs are now sporting Calibre 4401, a flyback chronograph movement which was first seen last year.

Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 41mm

Meanwhile, the Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ Extra-thin in 39mm sees four new references, three with gradient dials. Two of these, are in yellow gold, with one in a matching gold-toned dial that is especially dramatic. A platinum cased reference sports a smoked green dial, with the unusual choice of sunburst – rather than grande or petite tapisserie – dial texture. A steel version with ‘Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50’ dial, offers a more traditional choice.

The big change for the new Jumbo is Calibre 7121, which replaces the venerable Calibre 2121. The new movement took five years to develop, and was designed specifically for the Jumbo’s case, which is just 8.1mm thick. Its qualities include a quickset date function, a larger barrel providing up to 55 hours of runtime, and contemporary bidirectional automatic winding system.

Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 41mm

The more complicated front sees a trio of self-winding tourbillon models. These 41mm executions feature some of the aforementioned evolutions, such as larger bevels, new signature and thinner bracelets, and are equipped with the latest generation of flying tourbillon movement: Calibre 2950, which was introduced in 2018 on the Royal Oak Concept. Smoked blue ‘grande tapisserie’ dials are available in either steel or pink gold, with the third steel reference an outlier with sandblasted blue dial and chapter ring. They are equipped with Calibre 2950, a modern construction that was introduced in 2019 on the Code 11.59.

Finally, there is the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked, which in fact is sporting the manufacture’s first-ever openworked self-winding flying tourbillon movement. Calibre 2972 evolved out of Calibre 2950, and is an extremely contemporary look at the age-old art of skeletonization, using modern-day processes such as CNC machining. The interplay of light is something constantly explored by Audemars Piguet, and the meticulously finished components of the exposed movement showcase it to a glorious three-dimensional effect.

Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked

Most of these new releases are also fitted with a specially designed ‘50 years’ winding rotor. They will only be found on watches produced this year. After five successful decades, the only obvious move with the Royal Oak is to leave it relatively untouched. The changes that Audemars Piguet has made would be difficult to notice for casual fans, but diehard watch collectors are famously stubborn and will likely debate them for years to come. It is difficult to argue with the benefits of new movements, however, and as for the external changes – they are now an indelible part of Royal Oak history as well.

Audemars Piguet

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