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UPDATED: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 Watch

UPDATED: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 Watch Watch Releases

We have said this before and will say it again: while unceasingly impressive from a technical point of view, traditional minute repeater wristwatches tend to have a soberingly underwhelming sound when operated and experienced personally. This is the result of thick cases done in precious metals like gold and platinum, as well as the ancient layout and functioning of this centuries old mechanism. With their 2015 concept piece called the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1, the Le Brassus-based manufacture strives to join the extremely close circle of high-end watch brands who have set out to improve upon the acoustic performance of this mind-bogglingly complex, and yet in some ways obsolete complication.

UPDATED: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 Watch Watch Releases

The case design will be familiar to seasoned watch enthusiasts: it is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept with its unusual, angular lug structure. As per the norm, it is this case that carries the brand’s experimental calibers, which pave its way into uncharted territories of fine watchmaking. Ask any master watchmaker what they consider to be the most difficult-to-make complication, and chances are that they will either mention a chiming complication (the minute repeater or grand sonnerie), or the split-seconds chronograph.

Already being very difficult to conceive and assemble, the minute repeater is a highly complex mechanism which serves an incredibly difficult function: being a mechanical read-out of time which can be initiated at any moment, “on demand.” Nevertheless, AP, or rather its skunkworks called Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi (whom we have visited recently), has set out to redesign it in a way that, as per their claims, would hugely improve the acoustic qualities of this mechanism. Their acoustic research lab had worked together on the development and implementation of this new design with the EPFL polytechnic school of Lausanne (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) for a period of over three years. Okay, so it was difficult to make, we get it, but what does it actually do?

UPDATED: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 Watch Watch Releases

Being a pre-SIHH teaser, AP is not quite open about the finer details of this new design, but what is clear is that it has been inspired by stringed instrument making – so much so that they have collaborated with “an esteemed academic of the Geneva conservatory” on the subject of perceived sound in order to make the chimes as audible and clear as possible. Furthermore, they have worked on the seals of the case which are there to ensure water resistance so as to minimize their sound-dampening effect – though the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 is still water resistant to a mere 20 meters, meaning that it should stay far away from any amount of water that exceeds your accidental spill of Evian.

Arguably more technically challenging, Audemars Piguet has also designed a new, almost silent striking mechanism regulator, also known as the governor. In traditional chiming mechanisms, this essential component – that is running constantly when the minute repeater is in operation – makes an audible, mechanical winding noise that often takes away from the clear sound generated by the hammers and gongs. Making it virtually inaudible will certainly help the chimes stand out a lot more, making their finely tuned sound all the more enjoyable. Last but not least, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 will come with a 44 millimeter wide titanium case, allowing the sound to be considerably louder, owing to the metal’s comparably lower density to gold or platinum. The movement also features a tourbillon and a column-wheel chronograph – although a column-wheel is more than required at this level of fine watchmaking.

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UPDATED: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 Watch Watch Releases

UPDATE

While the brand has not mentioned this anywhere in its official communication related to this pre-SIHH 2015 release, upon closer inspection, we have spotted that the tourbillon assembly of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 watch comprises not one, but two escape wheels (one is at the 6 o’clock position, and the other is at the 10 o’clock position in the picture above), as well as two fixed wheels (one in grey in the center, and another, slightly larger one below, in gold), and two balance wheels! The two balance wheels can be told apart if one looks at the colors of the screws set into the periphery of the wheels: the upper balance wheel has silver colored screws while the lower one has gold colored screws. To the best of our knowledge, this is something that we have not yet seen in any other tourbillon piece from Audemars Piguet; in fact, seeing two balance wheels and fixed wheels on top of one another in this configuration is certainly a novelty.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 will came with a black rubber strap and a titanium bezel, adding that extra bit of sportiness we have come to expect from the brand’s Concept pieces. More details to come in January, as we hope to see (and hear) this very promising and interesting piece of engineering in the metal at SIHH 2015. audemarspiguet.com

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Comments

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  • Ulysses31

    Well, I admire their courage at trying to break out of that usual tedious AP aesthetic.  The result may well be bizarre and illegible to my eyes but I appreciate the effort nonetheless.  Those hands are practically invisible and too short and the minute markers are all almost identical making it difficult to distinguish them.  I’m getting a strong Linde Werdelin vibe from this thing, which bothers me just a little bit.  If it sounds like it looks, I expect to hear the braying of a donkey when it is activated.

  • bdekok

    A very interesting looking watch, but too hard to read.  Aimed more at what is possible than what is usable.  Also, on a personal level, I’m not keen on watches that have so much case real estate and so little watch face real estate, and prefer the opposite as depicted by the IWC Portuguese. A different kind of watch, I know, but I love the clarity / readability.

    It’s a shame that you don’t have sound bites available with the review, it would really enhance the readers appreciation (or perhaps disdain) for these type watches.

  • SantiagoT

    I’m sorry to be the one to say this, but:

    Infamous:
    1: having a reputation of the worst kind
    2: causing or bringing infamy
    3: convicted of an offense
    bringing infamy

    Famous:
    1a: widely known b: honored
    for achievement.

    Other than that, I agree with David in that we have to
    wait until January. And even then we will only hear the repeater from the
    presentation video because, let’s be honest, unless there is absolute silence
    you can’t half appreciate the sound. And even if with the new technique they
    get to increase the sound in, say, 1db, it is not going to be Tubular Bells on
    your wrist. 

    And also I’m with Ulysses: Monsieur Bennahmias,
    the case; we have to talk about it.

  • Fraser Petrick

    Between now and January can you find out if this watch tells time?

  • David Bredan

    Thanks for picking that out, SantiagoT! bdekok We have to wait until January for this to be released, what we have here is a pre-SIHH announcement that we found to be interesting and noteworthy – and certainly something to look forward to. We will try our best to capture its sound when we get to see this in person. Ulysses31 Interestingly, the Royal Oak Concept with pretty much the same design has been around for quite some time (it actually debuted in 2002, the same year when LW was founded).

  • Ulysses31

    David Bredan SantiagoT bdekok Ulysses31 I wonder why they sat on it for so long.  It would have added some much-needed variety to their lineup.

  • socabaptist

    Not sure about this, seems entirely too busy. The minute repeater while probably the epitome of high horology simply does not appeal to me. I find it totally useless and more of a “look what my watch can do” than anything useful. That said I like the Seiko Credor oh so much more. 

    http://www.hodinkee.com/blog/2011/4/4/introducing-the-seiko-credor-minute-repeater-a-horological-m.html

    Can’t wait to see if they’re going to sell this and the price they hang on this one.

  • DG Cayse

    AP RO v. 27.03 ?

  • Waikato7

    How’s everyone feeling about the screws not lining up but kind of lining up in a circle? (If you see what I mean?)

  • I’m eager the hear it, this stringed instrument comment has my gears grinding. That said, I’ll never like that Concept case. It’s much too brick-like to ever be as refined as the movements it might contain. It looks more like the ingot/billet that a watch case would be milled from. A complication like this would be much better presented in a Millenary case.

  • thornwood36

    Waikato7
    My pet hate

  • thornwood36

    Why o why o why do they keep coming up with timepieces , as delicate and as well put together as this example and then not be able to tell the time, As per , the screws are all over the place ( please dont tell me they cant be aligned ) The physiological ploy of having the happy face at 13.50 hasn’t helped.. Nope, a hate it.

  • shinytoys

    That is a wild looking face for an AP product. It’s a little busy, but I like it…

  • spiceballs

    Waikato7  yep, agree,  they look OK to me but that’s about the only thing I like about this piece.

  • 5803822

    Looks like a—-“GP Sea Hawk” on steroids – very acceptable at (probably) $300K

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