Audemars Piguet Enters 2018 With an Array of New Novelties
The Le Brassus independent powerhouse bursts in to 2018 with a dizzying lineup of new novelties. Here’s a thematic overview of my favorites.
At this year’s SIHH fair, Audemars Piguet released not one – but at last count, 86 new SKUs. These additions ranged from brightly colored Royal Oak Offshores to the innovative Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Slim RD2. For 2018, there’s literally something for everyone. While one article simply can’t cover everything, we’ll give you the highlights and overarching themes of this new collection.
For those unfamiliar, Audemars Piguet has experienced an overwhelming resurgence over the last few years. Led by CEO François-Henry Bennahmias, the brand is well positioned to attract buyers from one end of the earth to the other. As a collector of the brand, I’ve seen this success firsthand. Watchonista’s New York office is just a block away from the AP’s flagship boutique, and on any given day, the shop is packed with all walks of life.
The brand has an uncanny ability to market to numerous buyer segments. Collectors new and old, titans of industry, sports luminaries, and of course, the hip hop community all count on Audemars Piguet to introduce timepieces central to their spheres of influence.
Royal Oaks, lots of them
The brand’s bread and butter, the Royal Oak, has been in existence since the early 1970s. Back then, Gerald Genta scribbled an outline to scratch of paper. This became the Royal Oak and help form the two pillars of the line we steel today. Led by the standard issue Royal Oak, and the Royal Oak Offshore. Both collections saw massive additions for 2018.
Extra-Thin Perpetual Prototype
First up, the Royal Oak Extra-Thin Perpetual Calendar (RD2). Five years in the making, the prototype made a grand entrance at SIHH. At just 6.3mm thick, with a 41mm platinum case, this was arguably the star of the show. By utilizing a newly patented standalone perpetual disk, AP was able to pack a lot of punch into such a limited case size. No word on when this piece will hit the market, or the retail price, but I can attest, it’s gorgeous in the metal and commands a considerable wrist presence.
25th Anniversary of the Offshore
During our press conference, Lebron James made a pre-recorded video introduction of AP’s new “The Future of First” campaign. In essence, this campaign is meant to re-establish the brand’s history of innovations and “firsts.” Beyond that, the brand honors their past while keeping a keen eye to the future.
We’ve previously reported on these novelties, so getting hands-on during the fair was an added bonus. In person, the Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph 25th Anniversary is a masterful re-interpretation of the Royal Oak. Sure, it’s a new, albeit controversial, look, but I found it refreshing that the brand was daring enough to break out this futuristic design. What you can’t see in most pictures is that the new eight-point bezel/bridge is actually placed behind the sapphire crystal on the front, even the screws! The 45mm white or pink gold case is built around AP’s Tourbillon caliber 2947. I think the brand will do quite well with this model. I for one, am looking forward to seeing these updated design cues come to other Royal Oak models.
While the Tourbillon Chrono 25th Anniversary looks towards the future of the Royal Oak, the brand has chosen to revisit the past by unveiling a reissue of the original Royal Oak Offshore Chrono. This 42mm piece is almost a carbon copy clone of the original Offshore. AP bills this piece as “incorporating 25 years of horological upgrades and improvements”, however, I will note that beyond whatever AP has done with the Caliber 3126 movement, there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable aesthetic changes.
The Ultra-Thin That Had All of SIHH talking
When press coverage began the day before to the show, social media was set aflame with photos of a new Royal Oak Ultra-Thin. At first glance, this piece seemed nearly identical to the existing ref. 15202. However, the studio shots didn’t do the piece justice. The new two-metal 15202 featured an all-titanium case and bracelet with platinum bezel and center links. Limited to 250 pieces, this watch would become be the belle of the proverbial SIHH 2018 ball.
In person, the new 15202 is as infinitely wearable as the Stainless-Steel brother. However, you’ll notice that the platinum bezel is hyper polished to a mirror like finish. Thus, making the softer platinum high-gloss surfaces susceptible to scratches and swirls. The starburst blue/black dial adds a dynamic saturation of color that was needed on this line. With long waiting lists for the existing steel version, AP should have no problem fulfilling orders for the new two-metal ref. 15202.
Funky Colors for Men and Women
The ever-popular Royal Oak Offshore line saw a total of nine new color introductions. The ladies-focused 37mm Offshore Chrono (with diamonds) variant saw five new color additions including; “Acid Green”, “High Energy Orange”, “Luscious Plum”, “Pink-But in a Good Way”, and “White Wows.”
These fashion-forward additions further supplement the brand’s efforts to stay in-vogue with trends and changing tastes. While I personally love the 42mm Royal Oak Offshore in white, I can see how someone would pick up a piece in the color of their choosing, whether it be from the current collection or past. It’s a great summer watch that will also last you a lifetime.
Grand complications, in style
Led by an outstanding pair of Offshore Grande Complications, Audemars Piguet enters – or shall I say – bursts – into 2018 with horological technicity unparalleled in their field.
Maybe not for everyone, but still very impressive, the Royal Oak Offshore Grande Complication available in white or black ceramic is quite the watch for the discerning collector in your life. Featuring a minute repeater, and perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph. This is quote a watch. Both watches are full ceramic and water-resistant to 20m.
Offshores for a New Generation
One of the first images you saw of SIHH 2018 may have been the camo-infused Royal Oak Offshore “Combat” edition. With a khaki dial and outer ring, clad with a green ceramic bezel. While a stylistic departure for the brand, this watch represents a modern take on a battle proof tool watch.
The 44mm chronograph still features AP’s “Grand Tapisserie” dial, while adding military themed contrasts suck as brown counters, brown subdials, and a beige inner bezel. Completed with a camouflage rugger strap, this is a watch you may – or may not – see at your nearest retailer or battle field.
Audemars Piguet prides themselves on the art of guilloche. Producing engine tuned dials dubbed “Tapisserie” long a signature of the brand for decades. Usually, these symmetric grid patterned dials are produced in blue or white with varying degrees of texture. That all changed for 2018, with the brand introducing a new “splendid sunburst” pattern.
AP chose to introduce this new dial pattern with their Extra-Thin tourbillon additions. Led by the “Plum Tone” dial with a bright purple finish and continued throughout the link with blue and starburst blue dials. The “Plum Tone” dial may be the most talked about variant, but for me, seeing an all-platinum tourbillon extra-thin with full baguette-cut sapphires matched to the dial may take the cake. At 41mm, they’re just as wearable as the ref. 15202, but infinitely more complicated.
In my opinion, Audemars Piguet reinforced and upheld their position as Master of Independent innovation and disruption. This will be a central theme for the brand in 2018 and beyond. The Royal Oak Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is arguably the most technically advanced watch of SIHH 20218. While the ref. 15202 two-metal Royal Oak is the most talked about. Lastly, while there were plenty of additional AP references in 2018. One article simply can’t hold everything the brand introduced. We saw new additions to the Millenary lines, more frosted gold pieces, and finally, more Offshore color/dial variants. All reinforcing the fact that Audemars Piguet is alive and well – and possible as strong as ever.