As far as anniversaries go, 50 years is a big one for Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak. Here come updates to a number of Royal Oak models, including a design evolution geared toward improving a watch that collectors already love and desire. One model getting a refresh is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding Flying Tourbillon, which sees three new pieces join the collection: One in pink gold, one in stainless steel, and one in titanium.
The first two have a conventional smoked blue dial with a Grande Tapisserie pattern, and the third features a matte blue dial in which a chapter ring connects the hash marks of the minute track. This third version repeats a style we’ve already seen in the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding Flying Tourbillon, albeit in grey. Each new example packs the caliber 2950, debuted in 2020 with 65 hours of power reserve and a rate of 21,600 vph. Only now, on the back of this movement is a special gold rotor with a “50 Years” logo that calls attention to the Royal Oak’s half-century celebration.
Additionally, they each feature design refinements geared toward making the Royal Oak look and feel better. These include, according to AP press materials, wider bevels on the case and bracelet to better highlight the play of light on surfaces; first links on the integrated bracelet with decreasing thickness, for accentuated slenderness and more comfortable wear; a slightly embedded sapphire caseback, to make the watch sit better on the wearer’s wrist; and hour markers and hands with new proportions for enhanced harmony within the dial. Despite this, they’re the same 41mm x 10.6mm as the existing Selfwinding Tourbillon.
As we’ve seen in other recent examples of the Selfwinding Tourbillon, the applied Audemars Piguet signature, made from thin layers of 24-karat gold, is created using galvanic growth, which AP describes as a chemical process similar to 3D printing. The letters are connected by thin links that are hard to see with the naked eye. They are then fixed to the dial with small feet. It was originally developed for the Code 11:59 by Audemars Piguet collection. These design enhancements will continue on into the future, but the anniversary rotors are for this year only.
Moving classics forward takes careful touch and a lot of respect. In that way, at least from the images I have seen, the new Royal Oaks successfully thread a small needle. So much of what makes a Royal Oak work really does come down to how they look and how they feel on your wrist, all due to the many small proportions of links, bevels and facets that have to create a sense of harmony. Sized correctly, the Royal Oak bracelet is one of the most impressive in watches, and the interplay of light on the watch and the bracelet’s many facets is something to behold. With these new enhancements, I’d love to see how the 2022 Royal Oaks feel on wrist and how they play with light.
Though pricing is upon request, these are sure to be expensive watches with a single complication – or is it a complication? – that has to work in harmony with the overall sense of the watch. As a Royal Oak, it’s a sport watch in which the case, dial, and bracelet finishing are the main event. Ostensibly, a bracelet goes on a watch because it is more durable and permanent than a strap. But the Royal Oak bracelet is practically a work of art. All of the parts of a Royal Oak have to work together for it to feel right.
As such, even the weighted balance oscillating within the Tourbillon cage has to be on point. Note its color in relation to the pink gold hands, indexes, and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding Flying Tourbillon text, below; and then check that against all the same parts in the white metal variations, above.