A momentous milestone to mark Audemars Piguet’s latest addition to watchmaking firsts, the brand presents the Royal Oak RD#2, the world’s thinnest Selfwinding Perpetual calendar at just 6.3mm thick.
In a journey of countless hours of research, tireless innovation and skilled craftsmanship which took five years, Audemars Piguet pushes watchmaking boundaries with the ingenious redesign of the perpetual calendar function, which marks a new watchmaking record.
This watch combines two time-honoured brand specialties – complications and ultra-thin models – to develop the new ultra-thin 5133 calibre with perpetual calendar, a challenging task which required the re-engineering of a three-storey movement into a single level.
This was to ensure the product was ultra-thin while combining and re-arranging functions to boost ergonomy, efficiency and robustness.
The patented system features a record-breaking 2.89mm central rotor, and at just 6.30mm, the redesigned case shaves almost 2mm off the Royal Oak Extra-Thin Jumbo, making the Royal Oak RD#2 Ultra-Thin the thinnest selfwinding perpetual calendar on the market today.
Features of this remarkable piece of watchmaking art include a 12 o’clock moon phase which pays homage to the company’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch that came out in 1955, as well as a 40-hour power reserve, and same frequency (2.75wHz/19’800 vibrations per hour) as calibre 5134.
The 950 platinum case and bracelet have a “Grande Tapisserie” pattern blue dial, and the watch has overall improved readability with expanded counters and a night and day indication.
A long history of innovation
For over 140 years, the Audemars Piguet manufacture has prided itself in constantly inventing and reinventing its vast collection of luxury watches.
Creating exceptional perpetual calendars is a big part of the brand’s history, going back to the very beginning of the company’s origins.
While all time measurement devices can be viewed as an extension and expression of astronomy, the perpetual calendar mechanism is the one complication that embodies the ancient relationship between astronomical observation and the evolution of calendars and timepieces.
The Vallée de Joux is an ideal geographical location for scenic and celestial observation, and watchmakers past and present have cited the natural views as a source of inspiration.
One of the earliest perpetual calendar watches that is part of the Audemars Piguet museum was made even before the company was established.
Co-founder Jules Louis Audemars’ school watch was completed in its first incarnation prior to the origins of Audemars Piguet in 1875, and transformed in the workshops over the following two decades.
The complicated 18-carat pink gold pocket-watch masterpiece combines a perpetual calendar with a quarter repeating mechanism, and includes the rarely seen independent deadbeat second function.
The company began producing stylised unique perpetual calendar pocket-watches during the 1910s and 1920s, watches that were highly differentiated from those being made by other leading Swiss companies.
For example, in 1921, the Manufacture produced a rarely seen cushion-shaped perpetual calendar pocket-watch made in a combination of platinum and 18-carat yellow gold, with a dial featuring black Arabic numerals and a distinct Art Deco aesthetic, which was sold in 1923.
As the 20th century progressed, the very first wristwatches with perpetual calendar began making appearances, and while these were exceptional pieces, they all lacked the defining element of the perpetual calendar pocket-watches that preceded them – the leap year indication.
In 1955, Audemars Piguet began production on the very first series of perpetual calendar wristwatches in the world to feature the essential leap year indication.
Only nine examples of this celebrated and elusive model were created, featuring meticulously finished 36mm cases and distinct two tone dials.
Then, in the late 1970s the Quartz Crisis hit critical mass, burying many traditional watch firms while others began to greatly adapt the way they manufactured and marketed timepieces.
While continuing to innovate despite unfavourable circumstances, Audemars Piguet was one of the only traditional high-end Swiss watchmakers that continued to produce mechanical masterpieces throughout the Quartz Era, which included its 1978 release of the world’s thinnest selfwinding perpetual calendar wristwatch.
Conceived in secret and developed by master watchmaker Michel Rochat (referred to as “Le Mic” by friends) with the help of some of his highly skilled colleagues, the groundbreaking perpetual calendar wristwatch achieved its extra-thinness (3.95 mm) by adapting the exceptional calibre 2120 movement launched in 1967.
This new perpetual calendar calibre was central in attaining stability for Audemars Piguet during the Quartz Crisis, and also in ushering a new era of growth as it proved to be extremely successful.
At the time, few watch brands were offering perpetual calendar wristwatches and following the success of the new models, AudemarsPiguet proceeded to revive and reinvent many other classic complications in years that followed.
In 1984, the extra-thin selfwinding perpetual calendar was introduced for the first time in the Royal Oak collection, and while production of perpetual calendar wristwatches was well underway by then, Audemars Piguet also continued to create avant-garde and classical pocket-watches with perpetual calendar. During the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, Audemars Piguet introduced a wide variety of perpetual calendar watches with varying design codes, ranging from the Royal Oak and the Royal Oak Offshore, to the Jules Audemars and the Tradition.
Perpetual Calendars in fine form
Today, the brand’s current collection of Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars come in various materials to create unique aesthetics that are both pleasing to the eye and functional.
You can opt for the sleek stainless steel with silver-tone and blue dial model. Or, choose the attractive pink-gold version instead. Then there is the pink-gold piece with a pink gold-toned “Grand Tapisserie” decorated dial. There also are striking pieces in full black ceramic or yellow gold.
On the pink gold-toned dial with “Grand Tapisserie” pattern, blue counters resonate in a complementary fashion. On the full black version, made of hand-finished black ceramic, the day, date, month, astronomical moon and week of the year are displayed on the dial’s outer chapter ring and the essential leap year indication hold pride of place on the “Grande Tapisserie” decorated dial.
Challenging to master, but virtually unscratchable, black ceramic withstands high temperatures and thermal shocks, and is consequently extremely resistant to ageing. This makes it the desired choice in the watchmaking world for some unique and attractive timepiece designs.
Numerous operations demanding extreme patience and skill are required to achieve a uniform, compact and ultra-hard material that can then be machined and hand-finished.
On yellow gold, the universal emblem of indestructible beauty, energy and light, the new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar looks magnificent as it celebrates the timeless allure of yellow gold by combining it with the most classic and romantic complication.
The Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin at a glance
– Selfwinding manufacture: Calibre 5133
– Total diameter: 32.00 mm (14 ¾ lignes)
– Total thickness: 2.89 mm
– Number of jewels: 37
– Number of parts: 256
– Minimal guaranteed power reserve: 40 h
– Frequency of balance wheel: 2.75 Hz (=19,800 vibrations/hour)
– 950 platinum case
– Glareproofed sapphire crystal and caseback
– Water-resistant to 20 m
– RD#2 engraved on the caseback
– Blue dial with “Grande Tapisserie” pattern
– Blue counters
– White gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating
– 950 platinum bracelet with AP folding clasp
– Perpetual calendar with day, date, astronomical moon, month, leap year, night and day indication, hours and minute
– The thinnest Perpetual Calendar ever made, at only 6.3mm thick
– The patented system features a record-breaking 2.89mm central rotor