Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet pushes its material exploration further with the release of two new 42 mm Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie versions. These two timepieces are for the first time presented in a black ceramic case, offering a sleek look offset with refined white gold and titanium details. Equipped with the Manufacture’s state-of-the-art Supersonnerie mechanism and powered by the patented hand-wound minute repeater movement, Calibre 2953, these timepieces present an exceptional acoustic performance that transcends ceramic’s limited sound conductivity. Blending contemporary design with cutting-edge technology, the two models open new technical and aesthetic horizons for the Royal Oak collection.
The two highly complicated Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie models come in a 42 mm black ceramic case with a black Grande Tapisserie dial and a black rubber strap for a sporty look. © Courtesy of Audemars Piguet
A SLEEK, BLACK AESTHETIC
Audemars Piguet introduces its very first Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie animations with cases crafted in black ceramic. These two timepieces also incorporate a full black ceramic caseback – a first at Audemars Piguet. With its multitude of apertures on the side – meant to amplify the minute repeater’s sound when the watch is worn – the caseback epitomises the painstaking manufacturing and finishing operations ceramic components go through to highlight the material’s nuances and the multifaceted shape of the Royal Oak case. The ceramic used contains Zirconium Oxide powder (ZrO2) combined with a binding agent. It achieves its final uniform colour once it has been sintered at a temperature of over 1,000 °C. Each component is then pre-polished and pre-satin-brushed before being meticulously finished by hand to achieve the Manufacture’s trademark alternation of satin brushing and polished chamfers. Lastly, the casebacks have been engraved with sonic waves in tribute to the incredible acoustic performance granted by the Supersonnerie mechanism.
The timepieces’ black monochromatic aesthetic continues onto the Grand Tapisserie dials with their minute train and small seconds counter at 6 o’clock decorated with a snailing finishing. The first version is complemented with white gold hour-markers filled with luminescent coating, while the second model features 13 baguette-cut diamond hour-markers for a shimmering contrast. Both models are adorned with white gold Royal Oak hands filled with luminescent coating for optimum legibility. The white gold details illuminating the dial echo the eight white gold hexagonal screws securing the octagonal bezel onto the case.
Each timepiece is completed with a black rubber strap enhanced with titanium studs and a new three-blade AP folding clasp also crafted in titanium.
WHEN CERAMIC MEETS ACOUSTIC PERFORMANCE
Technical complexity and aesthetic details merge in these Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie models. The two timepieces are equipped with the Manufacture’s latest hand-wound minute repeater movement, the patented Calibre 2953, which blends advanced technology with refined traditional finishing. Despite ceramic’s limited sound conductivity, the two timepieces present a remarkable acoustic performance thanks to the Manufacture’s Supersonnerie technology unveiled in 2015.
Developed by Audemars Piguet and launched in the Royal Oak Concept collection, the Supersonnerie mechanism endows the Manufacture’s latest minute repeater models with the volume and resonance usually associated with pocket watches. This patented technology results from eight years of research in collaboration with EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Inspired by the sonic power of older minute repeater watches as well as by the harmony of musical instruments, a dedicated community of watchmakers, technicians, academics and musicians reviewed the case construction to produce a new chiming technology.
The exceptional acoustic performance, sound quality and harmonic tone are granted by the patented gongs, case construction and striking regulator developed at the time. One of the main developments regards the case construction: the gongs are not attached to the mainplate, but to a titanium membrane which acts as a soundboard and improves sound transmission. Paired with a solid caseback featuring small apertures on its side to let air through, the titanium membrane allows the notes of the minute repeater to resonate perfectly when the watch sits on the wrist, regardless of the material(s) used for the watch’s external parts.
Indeed, the acoustics of the Supersonnerie technology is such that Audemars Piguet has been able to house it in a variety of case materials across its collections, from titanium and 950 platinum to 18-carat white and pink gold – each watch offering its own powerful and unique tonality. This year, the Manufacture has pushed sound experimentation one step further by presenting its very first black ceramic Minute Repeater Supersonnerie models. Even the casebacks, which play a crucial role in creating a resonance chamber together with the Supersonnerie membrane, are honed from black ceramic. Since this titanium membrane on which the gongs are attached enhances the sound transmission of ceramic, the result is a powerful, crystalline chime.
A CONTEMPORARY TRIBUTE TO THE PAST
Since its establishment in 1875, Audemars Piguet has specialised in chiming mechanisms and crafted complex Grande Sonnerie, Petite Sonnerie and Minute Repeater mechanisms ever since. Records show that more than half of the 1625 watches produced between 1882 and 1892 included a chiming mechanism. This achievement can be attributed to the remarkable skills of the craftspeople working for the Manufacture across dozens of workshops in the Vallée de Joux.
While the production of chiming watches never stopped at Audemars Piguet, the creation of chiming wristwatches was rare through most of the 20th century. Between 1892 and 1957, the Manufacture created 35 minute repeater wristwatches. By the 1960s, chiming mechanisms were exclusively featured in pocket watches. Chiming wristwatches made their comeback at Audemars Piguet in the 1990s, following the revival of other classic complications in the aftermath of the quartz crisis. Minute repeating mechanisms debuted in the Royal Oak collection in 1997 with the launch of the first Royal Oak Grande Complication which paired minute repeater, perpetual calendar and split-seconds chronograph.
Introduced in 2015 on a Royal Oak Concept, the Supersonnerie technology made its way into the Royal Oak collection in 2019 with a Minute Repeater Supersonnerie model fully crafted in titanium. Subsequent versions executed in titanium, platinum or a combination of the two materials followed. Today, Audemars Piguet continues to push the limits of watchmaking with its interweaving of ancestral savoir-faire, state-of-the-art technology and uncompromising design as represented by the two new black ceramic Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie timepieces.