This is a watch that is so known to many of youpersonally, it may not require much of an investigation — but this is HODINKEE and you can think you are gonna receive one. The Royal Oak Chronograph is a watch which has tens of thousands of lovers all over the world, and a couple of detractors, also. The Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore families frequently appeal to quite different individuals, but I’ll get to this shortly. Within this short article, I handle a mainstay in the AP lineup, and also an interesting bit of haute horology, though one without its in-house movement. I’ll look at how this 41mm column-wheel, vertical clutch chronograph wears, and if the matter of where the motion came out of is even something worth noting at all. That is the HODINKEE Week About The Wrist using all the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, and it is one worth spending a while with.AP is really a distinctive watch manufacture. It’s among the very few global haute horology brands that stays in the control of its founding family, with several members of the Audemars family still sitting on its board. Consider the fact that Vacheron Constantin and A. Lange & Söhne are equally owned by the Richemont Group (which owns what from Cartier and Panerai to Alfred Dunhill, luggage manufacturer Lancel, women’s clothing company Chloe, Purdey Guns, and Net-A-Porter), and Patek Philippe, while retaining its independence, has been marketed to the Stern family less than 100 decades back. But, the ownership of AP isn’t necessarily the most interesting facet of this 175 year-old manufacture — the question that matters is who purchases AP’s watches?
Historically a favourite complication of Audemars Piguet, the perpetual calendar was the centrepiece of the brand’s SIHH 2018 line-up with the Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar, now the world’s thinnest.
Just 6.3mm high (in the Royal Oak case at that; perhaps slimmer in a round, knife edge case), with the movement thickness 2.89mm, the Royal Oak RD#2 is the slimmest perpetual calendar on the market by quite some margin.
Most slim perpetual calendar watches hover around the 8mm mark, case and all. The Vacheron Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is 8.1mm, while the Patek Philippe ref. 5940 is 8.48mm.
AP’s representatives repeated several times the cal. 5133 inside the RD#2 was akin to turning a three-storey house into a single floor, though technical specifics were short.
Rather than a revamp of the fundamentals of the perpetual calendar, the movement’s constructors slimmed and simplified each part of the movement, while laying out the calendar display in the most mechanically concise manner possible. The cal. 5133 is made up of 256 parts, compared to 374 parts in AP’s cal. 5134, or the 275 in Patek Philippe’s cal. 240Q.
That also means some of the calendar mechanism is spread out, rather than stacked up, explaining the relatively large 32mm, or 14 3/4 lignes, diameter of the movement. That’s quite a bit larger than the conventionally constructed and thicker AP cal. 5134 that’s 29mm, or 12 3/4 lignes, wide.
The automatic base of the cal. 5133 is derived from the cal. 2120, the longstanding thin movement found in the Royal Oak “Jumbo”. Highly regarded as a sophisticated construction that has remained in production for over 50 years, the movement was originally the Jaeger-LeCoultre cal. 920 and also supplied to Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. One of the most distinctive features taken from the cal. 2120 is the support ring for the rotor to minimise wobbling and stress on the short pivot.
Like the cal. 2120, the cal. 5133 also minimises the components needed on the dial-side of the movement, utilising a hanging barrel for instance. That means the dial also serves as a main plate of sorts, helping to secure the parts in place.
Despite the significant technical advances inside the watch, the outside looks and feels very much like a classic Royal Oak, meaning it’s angular, refined and sharply finished. It is a departure from the aggressively styling of AP’s other concept watches, the Royal Oak Supersonnerie and Laptimer Michael Schumacher.
The case is 41mm in diameter, but hefty despite being slim, due to the platinum case and bracelet. And though it’s almost a quarter thinner than the ordinary Royal Oak perpetual calendar, the decrease in height is not dramatically obvious on the wrist, perhaps because the watch was already thin to start with.
The dial is typical Royal Oak, dark blue with a chequerboard tapisserie guilloche. A casual observer would be hard pressed to distinguish between the RD#2 and an ordinary perpetual, though the differences are obvious, most prominently with the raised position of the sub-dials at three and nine.
Price and availability
The Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar (ref. 26586PT.OO.1240PT.01) is still a concept watch, with pricing and availability yet to be announced.