Record-Breaking: A Closer Look At The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
A supreme feat of watchmaking at just 6.3mm thick, the new Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin raises the bar for movement downsizing.
Audemars Piguet’s New Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin has broken the record for the slimmest automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch. Despite its low profile, the titanium and platinum watch packs plenty of punch. It’s also stunningly handsome, with no detail inside or out overlooked. The 41mm Ultra-Thin is a sight to behold, and experiencing it in person and on the wrist was quite thrilling, even for a journalist like me who has seen hundreds of spectacular luxury watches in my time.
The Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is just 6.3mm thick, and its movement stands at just 2.89mm high. A concept prototype version of the watch, dubbed the RD#2, was first shown to the press in 2018 cased in platinum. The concept watch was of course not for sale. But the good news is that Audemars Piguet will be making 100 pieces of the real thing, so if you haven’t gotten your name on the list for one, you’d better act fast. The price? 140,000 Swiss Francs.
So how did Audemars Piguet manage to squeeze this ultra-complicated watch’s movement into such a thin case? It took a lot of work, to the tune of five years of R & D. “The manufacture’s research and development team has integrated movement development, design and ergonomics in the conception of this new timepiece to boost its efficiency, robustness, and reliability,” Audemars Piguet said in a statement.
To save precious space, the watch’s dial also serves as a plate for the movement, anchoring the micro-mechanics underneath. To save height, the movement is 32mm wide (previous perpetual movements were 29mm) allowing it to expand horizontally. Most impressive, though, is that all of the perpetual calendar functions, which are typically on three separate levels, were designed to operate on one level. Audemars Piguet was awarded two patents for these breakthrough innovations.
A Royal Oak in All its Glory
All of the Royal Oak’s iconic design details devised by the great Gerald Genta are evident in the watch. There’s no mistaking its octagonal shape and the famed eight screws on the bezel. It’s a Royal Oak, through and through.
Seeking to enhance the watch’s readability, Audemars Piguet chose to forego its hallmark ‘grande tapisserie” dial pattern. Instead, the dial is a satin finished solid blue. The look is sleeker, and it’s decidedly easier to read at a glance.
The Ultra-Thin’s subdials are also wider than Audemars Piguet’s prior Royal Oak Perpetual models, making it even easier to read. With all of the information that’s indicated on the dial, that’s a big help. Another design tweak from last year’s prototype is the day/night indicator at 8 o’clock. The letters N and D indicate the night and day, a departure from the more traditional two-toned subdial, imparting a more monochromatic and sleek look. In fact, the only color other than the rich blue of the dial is the red 31 at the top of the date subdial. The moon phase’s aventurine backdrop perfectly evokes the stars, while the moon itself is extraordinarily detailed, craters and all.
Despite the Ultra-Thin’s slim profile, it feels surprisingly substantial on the wrist. This is not a delicate piece only to be worn on special occasions. While most of the watch is ultra-durable matte finish titanium, the eight-sided bezel is crafted of highly polished platinum. The combination of the two materials extends to the bracelet, with links of both titanium and platinum. The juxtaposition of the matte and polished finishes adds depth to the look of the watch, which, as mentioned, stands only 6.3mm high. It’s slim enough to fit under any shirt cuff, but why would anyone want to hide it?
The Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is part of a “new generation of calibres and watches designed with today’s contemporary lifestyle in mind,” according to the brand. While this watch is hard to top, we’ll look forward to see what other innovations Audemars Piguet has up its sleeve.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)