September 23, 2022
by Matt Reudink
In 1972, Audemars Piguet upended the watch world by revealing a luxury wristwatch crafted from the most ubiquitous material in horology: steel. As this is the Royal Oak’s golden jubilee, a bevy of precious metal releases would make perfect sense. But, given that Audemars Piguet is celebrating a watch that was born from challenging expectations in case materials, it’s only fitting that the brand has opted to take a different path, releasing a slew of colorful, ceramic Royal Oaks. In the latest release during this anniversary year, Audemars Piguet is debuting a 41mm Perpetual Calendar Royal Oak in a brand new, blueberry-blue ceramic case and bracelet.
The Royal Oak, with its Tapisserie dial, integrated bracelet, and octagonal bezel has one of the most iconic silhouettes of any watch produced over the past half century. Despite starting the steel revolution in luxury sport watches, Audemars Piguet hasn’t shied away from precious metals and unique materials, including gold, platinum, titanium, and ceramic. While this is by no means the first Royal Oak crafted from ceramic — or even the first Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar crafted from ceramic — this is the first time Audemars Piguet created a case and bracelet entirely from blue ceramic. For this release, Audemars Piguet opted for a 41mm case diameter with an impressively thin 9.5mm thickness and 20m of water resistance.
In many ways, ceramic is a dream material for watches, as it’s lightweight and highly resistant to scratches and wear. And, if you really know what you’re doing, it can be produced in a multitude of hues. However, there’s good reason that the material isn’t more common. Producing ceramic watches is challenging; it requires heating Zirconium Oxide (ZrO2) powder, along with a few secret ingredients, to an extremely high temperature, then machining it into shape and finally hand-finishing the notoriously difficult material. In this case, the result is a stunning blue that’s hand finished by the Le Brassus artisans to provide the same satin brushing and polished chamfers that result in that trademark Royal Oak shimmer.
Though it’s easy to get sidetracked by the vibrant blue case and bracelet, we can’t forget that this is, after all, a perpetual calendar. Audemars Piguet ensures that the dial is just as impressive as the case, using a color-matched PVD blue tone on its Grande Tapisserie dial, subdials, and inner bezel. The applied indices and facetted hands are 18k white gold and filled with luminescent material. The three calendar dials and moonphase provide symmetry on the dial and provide the wearer with hours, minutes, day, date, week, month, astronomical moon, and leap year information.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is powered by the Calibre 5134 movement. The 5134 accounts for the days in each month and also accounts for the date in leap years and won’t require manual adjustment for nearly 80 years (adjustment will be necessary in the year 2100). The 5134 is a newer Audemars Piguet caliber and, despite the complications, manages to come in at only 4.3mm in thickness, allowing the entire case to measure in at a slim 9.5mm. The movement, with its 38 jewels, 40h of power reserve, and beating at 19.8bph, is visible through a sapphire caseback and has ample decoration, including Côtes de Genève, circular graining, sunray brushing, polished chamfers, and a 22-carat gold open-worked oscillating weight.
Given that this is Audemars Piguet, the watch features a perpetual calendar, and it’s crafted from a wild new blue ceramic, there’s little doubt that the price will be stratospheric, and it is – MSRP for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in blue ceramic stands at 106,900 CHF as of press time. And that’s if you can manage to get your hands on one in the first place. Ignoring price and attainability, it’s refreshing to see another colorful ceramic-cased Royal Oak following on the heels of limited editions like the rainbow-hued Royal Oak in Collaboration with Carolina Bucci and the equalizer-dialed Royal Oak Offshore Music Editions. Now that Audemars Piguet has added blue to their ceramic palette, we’ll have to wait and see how far the brand is willing to go in exploring new, vibrant ceramics. For more information, please visit Audemars Piguet’s site.