Left in our selection of new Royal Oaks are the two Royal Oak Concepts – ladies first. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon, weirdly, doesn’t have anything in its name to imply this one was designed specifically for the ladies – but its exterior sure helps clear that up. This one is the first RO Concept for women since this – in my mind awesome-looking – offspring of the Royal Oak was launched in 2002. That was some 16 years ago, but then again, things do move slow in Switzerland. Fun fact: “In 1991, following a decision by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, Appenzell Innerrhoden became the last Swiss canton to grant women the vote on local issues.”

Beyond the diamond-paved panels of the Concept case, the – mind you, also diamond-covered – icicles of the dial stand out. It goes with this harsh, brutal aesthetic that Audemars Piguet developed a number of years ago and that, I think, we see far too scarcely, as it somehow really does work with the brand.

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This piece is also the first flying tourbillon from Audemars Piguet. That minor first though pales in comparison to the fact that this Concept is now 38.5mm wide, making this a genuinely wearable Royal Oak Concept. For this reason, I think it’s a missed opportunity not to offer a men’s version – sure, one of the two round-cut or baguette-cut editions will in some key markets fly as men’s watches, but globally I find it hard to believe there wasn’t a market for a smaller, more comfortable men’s variant of the Concept. Talk about the niche of the niche of the niche…

The movement is dubbed Calibre 2951, has a “minimal guaranteed power reserve” of 72 hours, and runs at 3Hz. It measures 29.50mm by 7.07mm, contains 17 jewels, and a total of 255 parts. The thickness of the 38.5mm wide, 18k white gold case we don’t know yet, but we do know it is “water-resistant” to 20m.

The flying tourbillon has found its way into the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT and its 44mm wide, sandblasted titanium case. The pusher at 4 o’clock looks like it was taken from more high-end Royal Oak Offshores of late, replacing the smaller, round corrector pusher of the GMT on older models with this wider, larger piece in black ceramic. The bezel is also ceramic. Water resistance is a more modern 100m.

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The new movement inside is the Calibre 2954, a 35.60mm by 9.90mm caliber with a whopping power reserve of 237 hours (nearly ten days), paired with an operating frequency of 3Hz. AP has replaced the ceramic bridges on older models with ones in sandblasted titanium – I wouldn’t be surprised if the ceramic ones were much more difficult to produce. To add the ultimate touch of bling, the bevelled edges of the bridges are highlighted by pink gold toned angles – that just sounds plain cool in an excessively excessive way.

The overall dial, as well as the crown protector assembly is much more angular and aggressive-looking, while the beautifully sloping, integrated lugs and case profile look cool as ever. Both on and off the wrist, the Royal Oak Concept has for long been a beast of a watch and this one just got turned up to 11 – which is a good thing.

Pricing for these novelties remains one of Switzerland’s treasured national secrets and are subject to change after the first announcement anyway. For the actual target audience, we’ll just say each of these Royal Oak pieces will cost some money.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear there’s a ton more Royal Oaks coming and we’ll cover at least some of them throughout 2018. To give you an idea, of the 85-page document comprising the 2018-novelties of the Royal Oak brand, 9 (nine) pages are not about the Royal Oak, including the front and back cover and the “notes to editors” page. The other six pages are about the 3 new Millenary watches.

This, in my mind, renders the Royal Oak among the finest, smartest, and most versatile watch designs of all time – because, truth be told, there are very few iterations of it on those 76 pages that I didn’t like or want. I’m both absolutely impressed and absolutely bored – and I’m yet to figure out how that is possible. audemarspiguet.com

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