Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet is delighted to unveil its first Royal Oak Selfwinding for the smaller wrists fully crafted in black ceramics. The sleek aesthetics of this black model in 34 mm is enhanced with pink gold accents for a refined two-tone contrast. Timeless and versatile, the black hues will seamlessly complement the unique style of its wearer.
A SOPHISTICATED ARMOUR IN SHADES OF BLACK
Audemars Piguet’s summer collection finds inspiration in its variegated materials and colours. The latest 34 mm Royal Oak Selfwinding explores the creative possibility of black ceramics by combining advanced technology with time-honoured craftsmanship. The timepiece’s robust build hand finished to the nines offers inspiring contrasts and plays of light.
Black ceramics’ aesthetic beauty also lies in its technical complexity, each ceramic model requiring dedicated manufacturing and hand-finishing processes. Making its appearance in the 34 mm Royal Oak Selfwinding collection, the composition and manufacturing of this unyielding material had to be adapted to the watch’s diminutive size, without compromising on the Royal Oak’s proportions, aesthetic codes and finishing techniques.
Zirconium Oxide (ZrO2) powder, mixed with dedicated binder content is transformed into ceramics through a complex industrial flow requiring different stages of high-precision machining. The exact composition of ceramics remains the secret of its manufacturers. Pigments of colours are added to the powder before the manufacturing process, making it an integrant part of the material. The components achieve their final colour only once they have been sintered at more than 1400°C. Reaching a homogeneous colour across all components represents an additional challenge as pigments are extremely sensitive to temperature variations.
Each ceramic component is pre-polished and pre-satin-brushed, before being finished by hand with the Manufacture’s trademarked alternation of satin-brushing and polished chamfers. This light, yet ultra-resistant and scratchproof material protects the movement like an armour, while the detailed hand finishing embellishes the case and bracelet with an ever-changing play of light.
The depth and intensity of black ceramics is illuminated by scintillating pink gold accents. Eight hexagonal screws, exceptionally crafted in 18-carat pink gold, secure the bezel to the case, while bringing a subtle touch of colour. Each has been meticulously finished by hand.
The Royal Oak Selfwinding timepiece sports a black “Grande Tapisserie” dial highlighted with 18-carat pink gold hour-markers and hands to further the watch’s understated two-tone aesthetics.
The dial’s guilloché design—one of the Royal Oak’s trademarks—is achieved following an in-house know-how no longer taught in horology school. Little squares are carved out on the dial’s thin metal plate by an engraving machine dating back to the 1970s that reproduces the motif of a pattern. Small diamond shapes are simultaneously cut out in the thin grooves separating the squares in a seamless “weave” that creates a tapestry appearance. This process requires utmost dexterity and precision.
The selfwinding movement, Calibre 5800, has been conceived for the Royal Oak’s 34 mm line unveiled last year and features 50 hours of power reserve and water resistance up to 50 metres deep. Part of its inner workings and dedicated pink gold oscillating weight are visible through the watch’s sapphire titanium caseback. Keeping with tradition, the movement has been assembled and finished with “Côtes de Genève,” circular graining as well as satin- and sunray-brushing.
WHEN PIONEERING CERAMICS MEETS FASHION
The first external components honed from ceramics made their debut at Audemars Piguet in the late 1980s. Around 1986, the feminine Bamboo collection welcomed different models with two-tone bracelets often combining diamond-set gold with ceramic links in hues of red, white or black. The shade of the dial frequently matched the ceramic components, enhancing the timepiece’s two-tone design.
Black ceramics returned decades later, this time in a completely different style. In the early 2000s, new materials and alloys inspired by technical fields as diverse as aeronautics and automotive sports made their way into the watchmaking industry, the Royal Oak Offshore and Royal Oak Concept collections being perfect platforms to experiment with these high-tech materials. In 2006, the Manufacture released the Royal Oak Offshore Rubens Barrichello Chronograph II, the first Audemars Piguet watch to present a black ceramic bezel complemented with matching push-pieces and crown. This automotive-inspired timepiece heralded a new generation of sports watch boasting ceramic bezels in variegated shades, including white, blue and khaki. In 2009, Audemars Piguet released a 37 mm Royal Oak Offshore for the smaller wrists featuring a forged carbon® case, topped off with a black ceramic bezel set with diamonds for a more feminine touch.
In 2011, the Manufacture went a step further, presenting its first black ceramic case with the Royal Oak Offshore Arnold Schwarzenegger The Legacy Chronograph. With its 48 mm diameter, this extreme and ultra-resistant sports watch presented a bold, yet sophisticated style of its own.
Black ceramics took on a more refined look when it made its appearance in the Royal Oak collection in 2017 with the first all-black ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in a case diameter of 41 mm. For the first time in the Manufacture’s history, the watch also presented a bracelet fully crafted in black ceramics, enhancing the collection’s silhouette and hand-finishing techniques. This model was complemented with a white ceramic version a year later. Other Royal Oak complications dressed in black ceramics followed, including the Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked (2018), the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked (2019), the Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin (2019), as well the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked (2020).
Today, the 34 mm Royal Oak Selfwinding in black ceramics paves the way for multifaceted mechanical timepieces conceived for the slenderest wrists, combining high-tech materials with timeless chic.
Royal Oak Selfwinding / 34 mm
Hours, minutes, centre seconds and date.
Black ceramic case, 18-carat pink gold screws, glareproofed sapphire crystal and titanium caseback, water-resistant to 50 m.
Case thickness: 8.8 mm
Black dial with “Grande Tapisserie” pattern, pink gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating.
Black ceramic bracelet with AP folding clasp.
Selfwinding Calibre 5800
Total diameter 23.9 mm (10 ½ lignes)
Total thickness 3.9 mm
Number of jewels 29
Number of parts 186
Minimum guaranteed power reserve 50 h
Frequency of balance wheel 4 Hz (28,800 vibrations/hour)