Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT Large Date
Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet opens a new chapter for the Royal Oak Concept with the release of its very first selfwinding split-seconds flyback chronograph. Inspired by the collection’s high-tech identity, this timepiece takes the Royal Oak Concept’s futuristic looks, ergonomics and skilled performance to a new level. In addition to introducing both a new 43 mm case size and the first interchangeable strap of the collection, the sporty timepiece boasts a highly contemporary, three-dimensional titanium case playing with textures, depth and light. It is powered by a new cutting-edge movement, the selfwinding Calibre 4407, whose complicated micro-mechanics takes centre stage on the rear side. For the first time, the caseback showcases the advanced split-seconds mechanism which has been inserted within the ball bearing holding the oscillating weight. More than 20 years after the release of the first Royal Oak Concept, the collection continues to offer a pioneering platform of R&D experimentation.
“We are proud to introduce Audemars Piguet’s first selfwinding flyback chronograph equipped with a split-seconds mechanism. This classic complication has been entirely rethought to fit in a highly contemporary sports watch offering optimum reliability for the present day. This watch was made possible thanks to the collaborative work of our different teams, specialized in the production of highly complicated mechanims.”
Lucas Raggi, Research and Development Director, Audemars Piguet
playing with depth, finishing and light
Audemars Piguet continues to evolve the Royal Oak Concept with the addition of an innovative complication blending ergonomics with the collection’s bold aesthetic looks. This timepiece required extensive R&D engineering, pushing the teams’ technological expertise further.
In addition to introducing a new 43 mm case size, the titanium watch boasts a multifaceted design playing with contrasts and light. The case’s elaborate architecture necessitated complex programming and manufacturing processes to strike the right balance between ergonomics and ultramodern design. The case and bezel are slightly curved to match the natural shape of the wrist, making it comfortable to wear despite the watch’s generous size.
Sandblasted titanium inserts bring the case’s juxtaposition of angular and rounded geometries into bold relief. The sandblasted case is topped off with the Manufacture’s trademark satin-brushed octagonal bezel, whose rounded outline is highlighted by polished chamfers. The combination of satin-brushed, sandblasted and polished surfaces furthers the watch’s textured look, while providing an endless play of light.
The collection’s strong lines are amplified by the watch’s screw-locked crown and push-pieces, all honed from black ceramic. Three-dimensional push-piece guards brazenly secure the pushers at 2, 4 and 9 o’clock, each finished with the same juxtaposition of sandblasting, satin brushing and polished chamfers as seen on the case.
“This selfwinding split-seconds chronograph has been designed to the extreme inside and out. Integrated into the futuristic Royal Oak Concept case, this complication has reached a level of technical complexity never achieved before.”
Anne-Gaëlle Quinet, Head of Complications, Audemars Piguet
Conceived like a movement bridge, the openworked dial gives a glimpse of the complicated micro-mechanics ticking within. The rounded openings have been cut out from a single German silver plate, finished with sandblasted black PVD and polished rhodium-toned bevels. This contrast confers depth and light to this sporty and architectural timepiece, which is further enhanced by the absence of a logo on the dial.
White gold hands and hour-markers, complemented with white transferred numerals spread across the dial, accentuate the watch’s two-tone aesthetic. In addition, the hour-markers, hands, counters, large date and GMT day/night disc feature luminescent coating for optimum visibility in the dark. Red and yellow accents, respectively marking the chronograph and GMT functions, add a subtle, yet vivid touch of colour. A black inner bezel, on which a white tachymeter scale has been printed, completes the watch’s overall design.
Ultra-contemporary inside and out, the new timepiece premieres the selfwinding Calibre 4407 – a feat of mechanical and industrial engineering that combines flyback chronograph, split seconds, GMT function and large date into the highly stylised case design of the Royal Oak Concept collection. The first of its kind to be produced in a series at Audemars Piguet, it is based on the Manufacture’s latest generation integrated flyback chronograph movement, Calibre 4401, which was launched in 2019 with the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection.
Unlike a regular chronograph, the flyback function allows the wearer to reset and restart the chronograph without having to stop it first. The column wheel works with a vertical clutch system. When starting or stopping the chronograph, the hands respond accordingly without any hint of jumping. Furthermore, a patented zero resetting mechanism ensures that both chronograph and split-seconds hands instantaneously reset to zero.
The split-seconds mechanism enables to measure intermediate time intervals thanks to the addition of a split-seconds hand that can be stopped independently of the chronograph hand when the dedicated pusher is activated. When the latter is pressed again, it catches up to the running hand to continue their journey together around the dial, in perfect synchrony. The action can be repeated at will. Located at 9 o’clock, the push-piece subtly nods to the Royal Oak Concept Laptimer (2015) – the first mechanical watch capable of measuring consecutive lap times on the racetrack developed in collaboration with Michael Schumacher. To reduce the movement’s height, the split-seconds mechanism has been integrated within the thickness of the semi-peripheral rotor’s ball bearing and is now visible through the sapphire caseback like in pocket watches and hand-wound wristwatches. Usually hidden from view in selfwinding watches, the split-seconds wheel and two actuating clamps can be admired at the centre of the platinum oscillating weight, under the X-shaped bridge holding the mechanism in place.
In addition, the state-of-the-art timepiece encompasses the GMT function, which has become a staple of the Royal Oak Concept collection. The GMT day-night display located at 3 o’clock provides an instant reading of the time in a second time zone. It is adjusted using the crown’s coaxial push-piece at 3 o’clock (one press moves the time by one hour). The GMT system is based on a disc and a hand turning at different speeds: the hour hand makes a revolution in 12 hours, while the day/night display disc completes a rotation in 24 hours and is recognisable by its two coloured areas: a white half for daytime and a black half representing night time.
Lastly, the large date at 12 o’clock enhances legibility with its digital look, while providing perfect symmetry with the small seconds counter at 6 o’clock.
Although incorporating high-tech features, Calibre 4407 continues to uphold fine watchmaking traditions and presents elegant Haute Horlogerie decorations, including sandblasting, circular satin, circular graining and polished chamfers, all visible through the sapphire caseback.
“We currently have 18 movements in development across collections. The launch of our new Royal Oak Concept Split Seconds Chronograph GMT Large Date is part of our ongoing effort to build the future of AP.”
François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO, Audemars Piguet
Based on the in-house chronograph Calibre 4401 released in 2019 in the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection, the Calibre 4407 has been deeply reengineered to improve its energy management in order to allow the addition of the split seconds mechanism. In addition of this, a new oscillator has been developed which features a Breguet overcoil, whose sharply curved outer end ensures the concentric development of the balance spring for increased accuracy
The new sporty timepiece premieres the first interchangeable strap of the Royal Oak Concept collection. The interchangeability system has been directly integrated into both the case and the triple-blade folding clasp to enable the wearer to change strap with a quick click and release. The system also provides optimum security when the watch is worn.
The design of the new black interchangeable rubber strap blends in with the facets of the case. The bevels on the case sides extend onto the strap, providing a seamless continuity between the two components. Furthermore, the strap is decorated with symmetrical inserts in grey hues that echo the multidimensional, two-tone aesthetics of both the case and the dial. The timepiece comes with a second all-black interchangeable rubber strap for wearers to style up their watch depending on their mood.
Two additional black rubber straps contrasted with yellow or red accents will be available in boutiques as part of the interchangeable strap assortment for the new Royal Oak Concept 43 mm diameter.
Launched in 2002 to celebrate the Royal Oak’s 30th
anniversary, the Royal Oak Concept established an entirely new aesthetic for 21st-century Haute Horlogerie. 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 brought this timepiece to new horizons. To complement the case’s futuristic aesthetic, the dial exposed the state-of-the-art hand-wound mechanism, while providing innovative functions: a push-piece serves as a function selector (for winding and setting the time) and a dynamograph displays the mainspring torque. A linear power-reserve display is indicated thanks to the calculation of the number of turns of the barrel, along a scale of 0 to 12, presents an indication of the number of linear turns at 3 o’clock. The tourbillon cage and its shock-absorbing bridge was also visible at 9 o’clock and the timepiece was fitted with a Kevlar strap. Although conceived as a concept watch that wasn’t intended to for commercialization, a small series was made to celebrate the 20th
anniversary of the model. Four years later, a new interpretation was unveiled in carbon, marking the birth of the Royal Oak Concept collection. Since then, the Royal Oak Concept has pushed the limits of Haute Horlogerie craftsmanship by blending high technology mechanisms with avant-garde designs.
This year, the Royal Oak Concept reinterprets the split-seconds chronograph for the present day. This complication is the last family of classical complications that was introduced in the history of watchmaking. It was born at a time when the world was in full acceleration and speed was everything, both in terms of industrialization and the diffusion of competitive sports. Its origin is the measurement of performance.
Of the 1,625 watches produced in the 1880s and 1890s, 625 included a chronograph, of which 299 were equipped with a split-seconds hand. The majority of chronograph pocket watches released thereafter and through the 21st
century continued to feature a split-seconds hand.
However, this complication was immensely rare in the Manufacture’s chronograph wristwatch offering in the 20th
century. Only one example is documented before 1996. Records show that this unique example was sold by Audemars Piguet to New York retailer Roehrich on April 14, 1949 and now belongs to a prestigious private collection. The 35 mm yellow gold wristwatch is powered by the Calibre 13VZAH. The split-seconds mechanism was added following a special request received after production had started. The archives mention an additional split-seconds movement, made in 1946, yet it is unlikely that it was ever cased up and sold.
In 1996, the split-seconds chronograph made its come back, this time miniaturised to equip the first Audemars Piguet Grande Complication wristwatch presented in a round case. This model combined the split-seconds chronograph with the perpetual calendar and the minute repeater as per Audemars Piguet Grande Complication tradition. The first Royal Oak Grande Complication followed in 1997, while the first Royal Oak Offshore Grande Complication saw the light of day in 2013 on the occasion of the sports watch’s 20th
The miniaturisation of the split-seconds mechanism also led Audemars Piguet to explore other technical horizons for the chronograph function. In 2015, the Manufacture released the patented Royal Oak Concept Laptimer in collaboration with Michael Schumacher. Endowed with a flyback system with two successive and alternating flyback chronograph hands, this avant-garde watch allowed the measurement of consecutive lap times on the racetrack thanks to a single chronograph driving two central sweep-seconds hands controlled independently via three push-pieces. This watch represents a world first as such time intervals could only be measured digitally beforehand.
Following in the footsteps of this highly complicated timepiece, the split-seconds function joins the Royal Oak Concept collection this year, paving the way for a new generation of advanced split-seconds mechanisms independent of the Manufacture’s Grande Complication production and merging engineering, technology and watchmaking artisanship.
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.