Given that pure gold is incredibly soft, it must first be combined with other metals before it can become a viable material for watch cases, and this has resulted in countless different luxury manufacturers coming out with their own proprietary blends of gold. The latest entry into this space comes from Audemars Piguet, and it is a special type of 18k gold known as “sand gold” that sits somewhere between rose and white gold, with a hue that changes depending on the light. To debut its new sand gold alloy, the Swiss manufacturer has just announced the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked, which features a case and bracelet crafted entirely from sand gold, along with a matching galvanic treatment applied to the skeletonized bridges of its movement.

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Aside from the novel sand gold alloy used for its components, the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked ref. 26735SG.OO.1320SG.01 is essentially the same watch as the stainless steel version that first came out in 2022. What this means is that you get a 41mm sand gold case that measures 10.6mm thick, along with the Royal Oak’s signature octagonal bezel, which is secured by eight white gold screws. Just as you would expect, a signed crown sits at 3 o’clock, a pair of flat sapphire crystals are fitted to the dial side of the watch and its caseback, and the model offers 50 meters of water resistance to protect against daily contact. Additionally, while Audemars Piguet has been known to create strap-equipped versions of its watches, the whole point of this latest release is to showcase the brand’s new alloy, and it, therefore, features the Royal Oak’s famous integrated bracelet crafted entirely from sand gold to match the case.

So, what exactly is sand gold? Much like many of the other proprietary gold alloys that exist throughout the industry, Audemars Piguet’s sand gold is an 18k alloy, which means that 75% of it consists of pure gold. Copper and palladium are also used in the alloy to provide it with its warm color and resistance to discoloration, and the name of the material comes from the appearance of sand dunes in the sunlight. Most proprietary rose gold alloys aim to achieve a rich warm color, although the purpose of sand gold is to achieve the opposite effect, where the material appears less like bright copper and more like a rose-tinted white gold. While I have yet to see Audemars Piguet’s new sand gold alloy in person, I find the concept of it to be quite appealing, as my biggest reservation with many rose gold pieces is that they are just a bit too warm and pink-colored for my personal preferences.

Powering the new sand gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked is the same skeletonized Caliber 2972 automatic movement that can be found inside the stainless steel model, which runs at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 65 hours. However, unlike the version of this movement that gets fitted to its stainless steel sibling, the plates and bridges of the Cal. 2972 used for this new sand gold version have been given a matching sand gold galvanic treatment. Contrasting against the warm hue of the bridges are rhodium-plated components, and while the rotor fitted to the movement is crafted from 22k pink gold, it has also been given a rhodium finish to further lean into the two-tone appearance of the caliber.

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Since the entire purpose of Audemars Piguet’s various “Openworked” models is to showcase their highly skeletonized movements, the new sand gold Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked doesn’t really have a dial, aside from a sand gold chapter ring that houses applied white gold hour markers and a printed minute track. Given that the large flying tourbillon on the lower half of the display serves as an unmistakable way to tell that the watch is running, a simple pair of hour and minute hands sit at the center of the movement, and they are finished with thin luminous inlays to match the hour markers. The architecture of the internal caliber creates a largely symmetrical appearance, and since there isn’t a dial to house the brand’s logo, the Audemars Piguet name instead gets printed on the underside surface of the crystal.

Since the stainless steel version of the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked is already a six-figure watch, this precious metal model was destined to be a rather expensive timepiece, and the new 18k sand gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked ref. 26735SG.OO.1320SG.01 is accompanied by an official retail price of 250,000 CHF, which works out to approximately $285,000 USD (at the time of writing). Additionally, rather than being produced as a limited edition, this new sand gold model appears to be joining the collection as a standard catalog piece, and it will be offered alongside its stainless steel sibling. At the present time, pink gold plays a fairly prominent role in Audemars Piguet’s modern lineup, and it will be interesting to see if sand gold will slowly start to replace pink gold, or if the brand will choose to keep this proprietary 18k gold alloy as a premium option that only appears on select pieces. For more information on the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked watch in sand gold, please visit the brand’s website.

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