The Royal Oak Concept turns 20
The Royal Oak Concept saw the light of day in 2002 to celebrate the Royal Oak’s 30th
anniversary. For the occasion, Audemars Piguet released a 150-piece limited edition inspired by Concept cars that combined titanium with Alacrite 602, a light yet highly resistant alloy mainly used in the aeronautical industry. While the bezel retained the Royal Oak’s trademark octagonal shape, the massive rounded 44 mm case, whose ergonomic curvature matched the natural shape of the wrist, brought this timepiece to new horizons. To complement the case’s futuristic aesthetic, the dial exposed the advanced hand-wound mechanism, while providing a variety of innovative functions: a crown position indicator, a dynamograph displaying the mainspring torque and a linear power-reserve display. The tourbillon cage and its shock-absorbing bridge was also visible at 9 o’clock.
Although originally conceived as a one-off limited edition, the Royal Oak Concept established an entirely new aesthetic for 21st-century Haute Horlogerie and led to the creation of a collection. In 2008, Audemars Piguet released the Royal Oak Carbon Concept Tourbillon and Chronograph in a pioneering case made of forged carbon, ceramic and titanium, while the movement ticking within premiered the use of carbon components. A platform of experimentation ever since, the Royal Oak Concept has seen the addition of unyielding materials, avant-garde designs and innovative complications attuned to the timepiece’s futuristic identity.
Audemars Piguet launched its first Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon GMT in a case crafted in titanium and black ceramic. The dial showcased the openworked movement’s tourbillon cage, blackened hour-glass-shaped upper bridge, crown position and second time zone indications. The Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon GMT witnessed another evolution in 2014 with the release of a variation uniting titanium with white ceramic.
Audemars Piguet released the patented Royal Oak Concept Laptimer in collaboration with Michael Schumacher, the first mechanical timepiece able to measure multiple consecutive lap times on the racetrack. This watch also represented the first collaborative venture of the collection. The same year, the Manufacture unveiled its Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie prototype, also known as RD#1. This patented technology resulted from eight years of research in collaboration with EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne and a host of experts, including musicians, to recover the acoustic tonality of older chiming watches.
Audemars Piguet launched its first Royal Oak Concept Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked, with three models in white, blue and red hues. The same year, the Manufacture also premiered its first ever flying tourbillon in the Royal Oak Concept collection, fitted on the first Royal Oak Concept for women – a line of powerful 38.5 mm models originally covered in diamonds. The flying tourbillon also equipped the latest GMT movement cased in a timepiece interweaving titanium and black ceramic. This new generation of Flying Tourbillon GMT powered by Calibre 2954 introduced a new movement aesthetic with asymmetrical blackened titanium bridges enriched with pink-gold-toned accents. A new version of the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT followed in 2020 featuring a titanium case, a grey ceramic bezel and an architectural movement juxtaposing electric blue ALD-coloured (atomic layer deposition) bridges and slate grey inserts.
The flying tourbillon took on a marvelous air in 2021
with the release of the 250-piece limited edition Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon
in 42 mm to mark the beginning of the brand’s long-term partnership with Marvel. Inspired by the universe of Black Panther, the watch’s case associated titanium with black ceramic in a unique aesthetic recalling the cutting-edge suit of Marvel’s hero. For its part, the dial featured a highly contemporary hand-painted rendition of Black Panther comprised of white gold. 20 years
on, the Royal Oak Concept collection continues to chart new territories with new materials, colours, contrasts and more to come in 2023.
Audemars Piguet is the oldest fine watchmaking manufacturer still in the hands of its founding families (Audemars and Piguet). Based in Le Brassus since 1875, the company has nurtured generations of talented craftspeople who have continuously developed new skills and techniques, broadening their savoir-faire to set rule-breaking trends. In the Vallée de Joux, at the heart of the Swiss Jura, Audemars Piguet has created numerous masterpieces, testament to the Manufacture’s ancestral savoir-faire and forward-thinking spirit. Sharing its passion and savoir-faire with watch enthusiasts worldwide through the language of emotions, Audemars Piguet has established enriching exchanges among fields of creative practices and fostered an inspired community. Born in Le Brassus, raised around the world.
“Born in Le Brassus, raised around the world.”