Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases

This is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer, a brand new "RO Concept" that I feel may very well be the most striking Royal Oak iteration since the Offshore Survivor. As its name suggests, this brand new, highly complicated movement was created to be able to measure and record a series of consecutive lap times. Such a watch was commissioned back in 2010 by Audemars Piguet ambassador and 7-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher, and it took the manufacture almost five years to come up with a solution – and fit it into what else but the Concept case, dressed in forged carbon and titanium.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases

In discussions with master watchmakers over the last few years, I have often taken the opportunity to ask, when creating a new movement from scratch, what complication is the most challenging to conceive and produce. I would venture saying that the single-axis tourbillon, no matter how tirelessly fascinating and beautiful, was not once mentioned: it was more of a dead heat between chiming mechanisms (grand sonnerie and minute repeater) and simple column-wheel chronographs. Split seconds chronographs are so rare, they were scarcely mentioned, but the fact of the matter is that it is one of the absolute most challenging functions to have ever been crammed into a wristwatch movement, and they are of course much more difficult to produce than their normal counterparts.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases

To understand how the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer is new, we must first see how your bog standard split seconds chronograph works. Also known as a rattrapante chronograph, what it usually does is allow one to measure intermediate times. This is made possible by the chronograph's not one, but two central seconds hands: when the chronograph is started, the two, overlapping hands start moving together. By the press of a secondary button, one of the hands stops, marking an intermediate time, while the other keeps on running. With another press of this secondary button, the hands are reunited. Technically complicated and very difficult to manufacture, but not entirely useful when measuring several consecutive lap times.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases

As the story goes, in 2010, the year he became AP's brand ambassador, Michael Schumacher commissioned the brand to create a mechanical chronograph that would allow him to not only measure, but record several consecutive lap times. Schumacher has been much more than a hugely successful racing driver: until his horrific skiing accident, news of which shocked the world in late 2013, he has been actively training the next generation of racing drivers. Sitting on the pit walls next to the race track, racing team managers and drivers are to this day often seen using stopwatches to measure lap times, stepping away for a moment from the armada of high-tech gadgetry that they rely on otherwise.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer is different to other split seconds chronographs in that it blends a rattrapante with a flyback chronograph in a very interesting way, that allows one to measure, record and display a record time with one seconds hand, while the other can be stopped, reset and restarted independently from the recorded time – and all this happens with the press of just one button, the one located at the 9 o'clock position and that is bearing the MS logo.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases

In practice, when a car starts lapping a track, the chronograph is started. As the car does its first time (which will of course be the first reference time in the session), the button at 9 is pressed, stopping one of the hands to display the recorded time, while the other gets restarted at the exact same time to start measuring the second lap. My understanding is that the record time can be left intact until it is beaten. That means, using the reset button at 4, the other seconds hand can be restarted with the flyback function as many times as necessary to time consecutive laps until the record has been beaten.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases

For all these functions to work flawlessly, a massive and highly complicated movement had to be created. As you see in the image above, the skunkworks of Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi (whom we visited last year) installed a metropolis of gears, wheels, cams, and springs onto the back of the movement. The component count of the 34.60 millimeter wide movement totals at 413 – that is a lot for a watch that has "just" one added function, and shows just how complicated that one complication is. Unlike normal chronograph calibers, the hand-wound 2923 caliber comprises not one, but two column wheels. Judging from the guaranteed 80 hours of power reserve, we can tell that there will be sufficient power and torque coming from the mainspring to ensure accurate timekeeping.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases

At 44mm wide and 12.70mm thick, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer is relatively sensibly sized, especially when taking all the tech inside into consideration. The large, protruding pushers and case extensions surely add to that 44mm size, but the Concept case with its angled lug structure and the relatively slim shape should handle that well. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept has seen many iterations over the years, but this one with a forged carbon base, titanium bezel, and crown protectors, set alight with pushers in pink gold and black ceramic, could just be the strongest member of this slowly but surely expanding family of highly complicated Royal Oaks.

The dial has large openings to show off some of the movement parts, including a column wheel at 12 o'clock, and, while skeletonized hands don't often work well on open-worked dials, these white gold hands with luminescent coating are so wide and long that they not only look terrific, but are highly legible. With everything being so over the top here, I wish the small minute counter sub-dial was a bit bolder in its design, matching the bespoke look of any and all other components of the dial.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Watch With Dual Seconds Chronograph Watch Releases

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer (reference 26221FT.OO.D002CA.01) will be available in a limited edition of 221, the number of Formula 1 Grand Prix races in which Michael Schumacher competed. Price is $229,500 for one of the 221 numbered pieces. audemarspiguet.com

What do you think?
  • I love it! (3)
  • Interesting (2)
  • Thumbs up (1)
  • Classy (1)
  • I want it! (1)
  • James Whalen

    Love it would like to own 1.

  • Jimxxx

    Very impressive. Highly impractical. One of the better designs in the Concept line, yet something seems to be missing… Although can’t quite put my finger on it.

  • Jimxxx I agree that this is a technical marvel and the movement itself is eye-candy. But the styling does not do it for me. Somehow the hands look a little short. And the stylized framework on the dial side makes my brain want to see hour lines but they are not (and there are not hour markers). So for time of day this falls short as a watch. As a stopwatch (it’s true purpose I guess), the accumulator should be larger. I don’t mind that case shape on its own. But to call it a Royal Oak might have Gerald Genta turning in his grave as there is little of his original design there outside of the iconic bezel (with bolts).

  • thornwood36

    Would it have killed them to make the dials solid ? Oh, and having an actor, sportsman / woman would have ZERO “cool” attraction for me. If I like it, that’s all the matters.. As for the moment, its a marvel

    ps. don’t like the stars or the  initials on Schumacher on it.

  • iamcalledryan

    Would love to see this tech on a more traditionally styled chrono. Hats off to AP though.

  • I_G

    You won’t.

  • iamcalledryan

    Yeah I think they should have taken their concept line away from any existing models and just called it a concept line.

  • Superstition

    MarkCarson Jimxxx The man was already turning outside the grave when they first introduced the Offshore.

  • Technically, it’s amazing, but my gawd is the finished product ever hideous. People line up overnight to splash haterade on whatever Hublot churns out, but this is as ugly a 6-figure watch as you’re ever likely to see.

  • Superstition MarkCarson Jimxxx Yep (ROO). Only now he is spinning at 4 Hz.

  • Emperius

    Never, ever liked the hexagonal frenzy of all top watch makers. I find the frame a waste of space and material.

  • SarthakSharma

    50 shades of (hideous) gray.

  • marbstiu

    MarkCarson Superstition Jimxxx

    The watch reminds me of Clerc
    and that’s a bad thing.

  • marbstiu

    SuperStrapper it doesnt look wrist worthy. The case is like a house.

  • Those Hublots are starting to look very attractive right about now…

  • Panagiotis I think you have just defined either “faint praise” or “left handed compliment” with that one.

  • ggg214

    I doubt how many people will buy it for its laptimer function.

  • JubJub

    How long has AP been hiring Invicta’s fired designers?

  • egznyc

    Indeed it made me think immediately of Hublot. Whatever happened to the AP that made lots of fine watches that had no “Royal Oak” in their names?

  • egznyc

    Exactly. As someone else commented, too bad this complication wasn’t introduced in a more traditional looking chronograph.

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