Nowadays, watches like the Royal Oak endless calendar skeleton (a standard at AP’s collection and one of the best perpetuals available on the market, in my own estimation), the Royal Oak Equation of Time, the innovative Chron-AP, and this Millenary Minute Repeater prove that AP is without a doubt a top-tier manufacture. AP’s in-house self-winding caliber 3120, found inside the fundamental Royal Oak 15400, is also one of the best base moves in the world. These are the things which keep AP relevant to “real” watch fans that occasionally get lost in the buzz round the other kinds of AP buyers.And then there’s your typical well-to-do watch buyer. To mepersonally, the best analogy for this other kind of AP purchaser is advised via a singular scene in one episode of a single television show that was popular for a period of time some years ago. I am speaking about Entourage, and I wager the great majority of you understand exactly to which scene I’m referring.Ari Gold receives a solid gold Royal Oak chronograph (not as the opinion I’ll review down under) by his own then-soon-to-be boss, who describes it as “One of the finest watches in the world.” The camera then pans to the good gold watch from its box, and Ari is in disbelief regarding the gift — and consequently, AP is introduced to a whole group of potential new clients, the guys who see Entourage. From this time, you see a number of the personalities on the show wearing APs. Many at the time considered Audemars Piguet had compensated for the positioning, but in talks with AP through time, it was revealed to me that not just one dollar was exchanged. Instead, a specific manufacturer on the series was a large AP client, and insisted it be a Royal Oak presented to Ari. Entourage did a lot for AP, but it wasn’t this one positioning that defines the “other” kind of AP client. It does give you an idea of where AP is popular, and that is in Hollywood, music, and sports, with all the young and moneyed.
While ceramic has been a favourite material at Audemars Piguet for the Royal Oak, it has not been used for a watch bracelet, until now. Just announced at SIHH 2017, the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is ceramic from end to end, with the case, bezel and every link of the bracelet in black ceramic.
The case is 41mm in diameter, just like the standard model, but the finishing of the case and bracelet takes significantly more time than for the steel or gold equivalent. While a steel model takes some six hours to machine, polish and put together, the ceramic version takes 30 hours.
To match the ceramic case, the dial is a dark grey with black sub-dials, decorated with the chequerboard grande tapisserie guilloche that’s synonymous with the Royal Oak.
Historically an important complication for Audemars Piguet, the ceramic perpetual calendar is powered by the calibre 5134, a movement based on the extra-thin calibre 2120/2121 found in the original Royal Oak of 1972.
In fact, the calibre 5134 is evolved from the calibre 2120/2802, the movement used for the 39mm Royal Oak perpetual calendar that was in production for some 30 years. The key difference in the new calibre being the addition of a 52 week indicator.
Price and availability
The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in black ceramic (ref. 26579CE.OO.1225CE.01) is priced at SFr85,000. It should be available in the second half of 2017.