Most time-only watches aren’t that difficult to make. But most time-only watches aren’t Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon.
On Monday, the Swiss watchmaker unveiled six new editions of its Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillion watches (five in 18k white gold cases and a sixth in 18k pink gold), each set with an array of gemstones. Each of the 38.5 mm watches runs on a hand-wound movement, AP’s calibre 2951, which offers a minimum power reserve of 77 hours. The new watches are water-resistant up to 20 meters—not that you’d go swimming in anything this intricate—and feature glare-proof sapphire crystals and case backs. All of the models have crowns set with translucent sapphire cabochon gemstones. They’re available with two strap options: a “large square-scale” blue alligator strap, while the other is a blue rubber strap with a “constellation” decoration that looks like tone-on-tone pixels.
That’s where the similiarities end. The cases, bezels, dials and buckles are variously set with hundreds of painstakingly selected diamonds, sapphires and other colored gems. Even the tourbillons are decorated with 9 brilliant-cut sapphires or diamonds—not something easy to achieve with a lightweight and important timekeeping component. Every jewel adorning the new watches was individually cut and polished to form a specific shape; then later set in gold by the hand of an expert jeweler to enhance the watch’s unique pyramidal dial accents and to catch the light.
Models from the new Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillion series.
The new series includes two rainbow watches that showcase up to 12 types of colored gemstones: They’re decorated with rubies, tsavorites, emeralds, topaz, tanzanites, amethysts and an array of colored sapphires. One model combines a diamond-set case and dial with a bezel set with baguette-cut gems in rainbow colors, the other colorful piece has been entirely set with brilliant-cut multicolored gemstones.
Two other watches—in white and pink gold—come covered in a whopping 208 baguette-cut blue sapphires selected and set to form a gradient effect. The sapphires were cut in 144 sizes to match the curves of the Royal Oak Concept case and the architecture of the dial. Tiny grooves were then delicately incised into the stones and meticulously snapped one by one onto a hidden rail mounted in each piece’s gold component. Audemars Piguet says the invisible gem setting can take up to 150 hours of work to complete.
Both of those blue-hued Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillions will be available in select Audemars Piguet retailers next year. The other four watches with brilliant-cut gemstones will be available in select locations for this October. Visit the Audemars Piguet website for more information.