The White Ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar: The Perfect “Why Not?” Watch
The latest Royal Oak marches forward with unprecedented panache.
Audemars Piguet recently released its Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in bright white ceramic and it’s hard not to have an opinion on it. This combination of color, complications, and materials is the newest territory in the ever-expanding Royal Oak universe, and the result is both a little foreign and a little exciting. On the wrist, the watch feels transformative. You can’t help but wonder, “could I actually pull this off?”
Let’s start with the obvious
First things first, this new watch is white. Milky white. Toothpaste commercial *ping* white. The confident frame of the Royal Oak has reached a new level of swagger with this latest color treatment. We’ve seen a black ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar before and we’ve seen our fair share of Royal Oak Offshores in bold colors, but this duo of a perpetual in white just hits different.
The immediate pop of the case and bracelet give way to the deep blue of the Grande Tapisserie dial, one that’s complicated in features and finish. Framed in high contrast, the dial looks like a hole cut through sea ice.
Of all the blues the designers could have chosen, they chose well with this darker shade. This particular blue helps ground the otherwise effervescent watch as do the just-right-white subdials. Should AP decide to continue the white ceramic theme in the future, I’d be curious to see what other color palettes they’d apply to this blank canvas.
A Royal Oak by any other name
The Royal Oak has built its reputation, in part, by balancing its bold athleticism with careful details. One such example is the alternating brushstrokes of the integrated bracelet. The technical bracelet finishes from the stainless steel model are still here, although they are a bit tough to make out.
This predicament is made all the more interesting when you learn that these finishes take five times longer with ceramic as they do with stainless steel. In total, AP spent approximately 600 hours of R&D to figure out how to get the ceramic finishing to the same standard as its metal models. It’s this quality for the sake of quality mentality that we’ve come to expect from this legacy lineup of watches.
On the wrist, the watch is lighter than you’d think, even more so than the already light stainless steel Royal Oak. The 41mm x 9.5mm case sits grounded on the wrist, wide and flat. Overall, the white ceramic feels more playful than the steel and precious metal versions. The signature screws stand out more too, looking a bit like eight punctuation marks dotting the bezel.
Compact and Complicated
The new white ceramic features the same self-winding caliber 5134 that we saw in 2017’s black ceramic perpetual. Originally based on the caliber 2120, the new movement has been updated to fit the new 41mm case size. This venerable QP caliber is as complicated as could be with 374 components occupying only 29mm x 4.31mm of real estate. And continuing with the uncompromising attention to detail, the mainplate is finished on both sides with a circular perlage pattern, even though only the underside is visible through the sapphire caseback.
Bravado for decades to come
Watch brands are getting competitive with their moonphases and I am all here for it. This one in particular features laser microstructured moons set against a glittering aventurine backdrop. Under the right conditions, AP’s astronomical indicator only requires correction every 122 years and 108 days.
Some commenters take issue with the week of the year indicator encircling the dial, and to them I say, agreed. This complication always strikes me as more form than function. More perpetual calendars should make use of the outer ring like AP does here, but maybe opt for a more commonplace measurement.
Speaking of perpetual calendars, the complication can feel a bit like a funny juxtaposition next to the pristine white exterior. One can only imagine a young collector inheriting this watch a few generations down the line - and that’s a lot of watch to live up to.
For the man who has everything
And now the question we’re all asking ourselves - who would something like this? This watch pairs well with the finest linens and a whole lotta confidence, so it would fit nicely on a tropical climate bon vivant.
The new white ceramic perpetual calendar is not for everyone, and that’s the point. When it hits, it hits. This particular risk paid off, and it feels a bit like a victory lap for the Royal Oak.
Budget restraints aside (retail price $93,900 USD), this watch may not be your first perpetual calendar, still, I’m glad it exists. The overall lesson that comes across is: if you’re Audemars Piguet, and the demand is there, just go for it and don’t apologize.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)