INTRODUCING AUDEMARS PIGUET’S LATEST TIMEPIECES FOR 2024: FROM THE ROYAL OAK TO THE CODE 11.59, THE OFFSHORE, AND MORE (LIVE PHOTOS)

It’s that exciting time of the year again when we eagerly anticipate the influx of new releases at Watches & Wonders. However, even for brands not partaking in the show, progress marches on. This week, Audemars Piguet chose Milan, Italy, as the stage to inaugurate the brand’s new AP House Milan, nestled within the renowned former Garage Traversi. This occasion also marked the unveiling of the first of its bi-annual major releases.

While the spotlight may have initially shone on the John Mayer Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar during the announcement, there was a plethora of novelties to explore. At the press preview, timepieces exchanged hands swiftly, allowing only a moment to snap a photo or two, examine each watch, and swiftly move on to the next eagerly awaited release. In several instances, there were groundbreaking innovations awaiting discovery. I look forward to delving deeper into a few of these innovations. Instead of inundating you with multiple narratives, I’ll endeavor to summarize (almost) every release. But before we delve into that, here’s a brief overview:

Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked in Sand Gold, Ref. 26735SG

Rarely do we encounter a new suffix denoting a novel material at the end of a reference. Typing “SG” for Sand Gold for the first time was a delightful experience. And had it not been for the John Mayer QP, this timepiece would have undoubtedly stolen the spotlight. But what sets it apart? As representatives of the brand elucidated, Audemars Piguet perpetually explores novel materials (even revisiting ancient materials from the 1800s to decipher the elemental combinations yielding hues like “green gold”). Pure gold is typically amalgamated with other elements to forge sturdier alloys, with the choice of materials often influencing the resulting color. While pink gold has gradually ascended in prominence within their model roster since its inception in the mid-1980s, this iteration deviates from the norm. By substituting silver with palladium, they achieved a distinctive beige 18k gold 41mm by 10.6mm case. This same sand gold finishing adorns the bridges of the caliber 2972, introduced in 2022 to commemorate the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary.

Observing the accompanying images, one may initially doubt if they depict the same timepiece. Yet, this phenomenon isn’t attributable to photographic prowess. Due to the presence of palladium, the watch’s appearance oscillates from a gentle pinkish beige to a lustrous silver hue, contingent upon the angle of illumination. It’s perhaps one of the most captivating color palettes I’ve encountered in recent memory – reminiscent of the sophistication exuded by Loro Piana, albeit beyond my means to indulge in both the timepiece and its accompanying attire.

Royal Oak White Gold Selfwinding Tourbillon Extra-Thin (RD#3) in 37mm Ref. 26660BC

Without hyperbole, the RD#3 in 37mm stands as one of Audemars Piguet’s most remarkable achievements in recent times. Crafting such an elegant self-winding movement housing a tourbillon within the iconic 39mm by 8.1mm “Jumbo” case demanded immense ingenuity. Subsequently shaving off an additional 2mm in width elevates this feat to the realm of the extraordinary. This latest model features a smoked blue Petite Tapisserie bezel adorned with 12 baguette-cut diamond hour markers. The white gold case, ideal for gem setting, maintains a thickness of 8.1mm and boasts 50m of water resistance. Additionally, the bezel is embellished with 32 baguette-cut diamonds. While this edition complements the 37mm RD#3 with its purple dial, an option sans the diamond bezel would have provided a subtle yet stylish alternative.

Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm in Yellow Gold Ref. 26240BA and Royal Oak Selfwinding 37mm in Yellow Frosted Gold Ref. 15550B

Here’s a compelling two-for-one offer (albeit not available at the boutique). Audemars Piguet introduced two new yellow gold models, a move characteristic of the brand’s pioneering spirit. While many other brands are still hesitant to reintroduce yellow gold into their lineups following rose/pink gold’s dominance in the early 2000s, Audemars Piguet has embraced the material across various hues, alongside innovative texture treatments. The 37mm Selfwinding Royal Oak, crafted from yellow frosted gold, features a hand-hammered texture reminiscent of the inaugural Carolina Bucci edition. Meanwhile, the 41mm RO Chronograph, while more conventional, boasts a hand-sprayed dark burst finish on its sunburst dial, echoing the brand’s commitment to artistic detailing.

While neither model appealed to my personal taste, they undeniably represent intriguing novelties. There’s a discernible shift away from ostentatious yellow gold timepieces like the chronograph, suggesting a waning interest among consumers. However, refined options like the 37mm model are poised to attract a diverse clientele comprising both men and women.

Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding 43mm with Rubber Bezel, Ref. 15605SK

I’ve never been particularly enamored with the Royal Oak Offshore, perhaps owing to my absence during its heyday. However, the Offshore Diver in “khaki” stood out as a rare exception. Curiously, the unveiling of the new 43mm Offshore with a rubber bezel managed to pique my interest. While the 43mm by 14.4mm case may seem substantial, its non-diver status limits water resistance to 100m. Nonetheless, its deviation from the diver and chronograph archetype renders it unique. Sporting a smoked blue dial featuring the new generation Méga Tapisserie pattern, rhodium-toned gold hour markers, luminescent Royal Oak hands, and a non-rotating blue inner bezel, this timepiece evokes a sense of nostalgia. The external blue rubber bezel harks back to the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940, introduced in 2002 as the first watch to incorporate rubber outside of the bracelet – a nostalgic nod appreciated by enthusiasts.

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