Audemars Piguet – Royal Oak Automatic Extra-Thin Flying Tourbillon – Trends and Style – WorldTempus

Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet is pleased to introduce its new version of the Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatic (RD#3) model. Completing the 39mm “Jumbo” model launched last April, this 37mm anniversary model pushes the limits of the brand’s know-how: it is in fact the first time that the Manufacture has produced a flying tourbillon with a so small diameter, making it accessible to even the thinnest of wrists, while paying tribute to its tradition of small horological complications. A challenge made possible by the new ultra-thin Caliber 2968 automatic tourbillon movement, 3.4mm thick, adorned with traditional and modern hand decorations. With an unprecedented plum dial and an innovative escapement system, this timepiece combines technical prowess and aesthetic details for absolute sophistication.

An innovative ultra-thin flying tourbillon movement

At the heart of this new innovation is caliber 2968, an ultra-thin self-winding flying tourbillon movement that took five years to develop. The main technical feat of the Manufacture’s watchmakers is that they were able to integrate a flying tourbillon with an unprecedented escapement into a 39 and then 37mm case, a complication previously reserved for 41mm diameters. Given the limited space available, the automatic flying tourbillon had to be completely redesigned to reduce the thickness required to house it by repositioning certain components while maintaining its original proportions. Equipped for the first time with a peripheral drive1, which contributes to its slimness, the tourbillon cage is made of titanium. The combination of these two elements makes the distribution of energy in the tourbillon not only smoother, but also lighter and finer. The new escapement is based on an oscillator that allows a large amplitude, which increases the reliability, energy management and precision of the watch.

Royal Oak Automatic Extra-Thin Flying Tourbillon (RD#3) © Audemars Piguet

To make the tourbillon and movement more visible, Audemars Piguet engineers have completely redesigned the architecture of the mechanism. On the back, the bridges have been perforated to reveal the mechanical components, paying particular attention to the symmetry of the various elements. On the dial side, the geometry and positioning of the three arms of the balance wheel have also been revised to make the heart of the watch beat even more hypnotic. The technical design of the movement brings the flying tourbillon flush directly above the dial, creating an even stronger visual experience through the crystal.

Visible through the sapphire case back, the hand-decorated movement components combine the dynamism and classicism of the re-entrant angles with the modernity of the drawn lines – a finish that appears on the main plate and bridges, replacing the traditional Côtes de Genève. The openwork and rhodium-plated bridges offer a contrasting look at the mechanism’s elements in rose gold tones.

A refined aesthetic inspired by the “Jumbo” codes

Although smaller in diameter, the second version of the RD#3 incorporates the aesthetic codes specific to the dial of the “Jumbo” model launched earlier this year. The Petite Tapisserie dial features an unprecedented plum hue obtained through the CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) process, thus guaranteeing clarity, homogeneity and durability of color across all dials.

Inspired by the first model from 1972, this new reference features tub-shaped indexes and hands with luminescent coating for optimal readability in the dark. The Audemars Piguet signature is printed in white on the tapestry, as is the minute track. The titanium flying tourbillon cage rotates at 6 o’clock and stands out against the plum background to create an intriguing, airy contrast.

However, this 37mm version differs from the “Jumbo” in that its handcrafted stainless steel case and bracelet incorporate the latest design evolution that debuted on many Royal Oak models in early 2022. Wider polished bevels and tapered links give it a refined silhouette and improved ergonomics.

Royal Oak Automatic Ultra-Thin Flying Tourbillon

Royal Oak Automatic Extra-Thin Flying Tourbillon (RD#3) © Audemars Piguet

An oscillating weight dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak

The Royal Oak Automatic Extra-Thin Flying Tourbillon has a central oscillating weight mounted on ball bearings and equipped with two reversers2 that ensure bidirectional winding. The 50th anniversary logo and Audemars Piguet signature are engraved on this rhodium-plated 22k rose gold weight, specially designed for the Royal Oak Jubilee. Matching the tones of the stainless steel case and bracelet, it is also embellished with the polished and satin finishes that have become the hallmark of the collection and can be admired through the sapphire crystal caseback.

A tradition of technical-technical prowess

In 1986, Audemars Piguet introduced the world’s first automatic tourbillon wristwatch. Created by Jacqueline Dimier, the design placed the tourbillon escapement on the dial side for the first time. The caliber 2870 was then housed in an extra-thin case that was just 5.3mm thick. Its titanium tourbillon cage is still one of the smallest in the world, measuring 7.2mm in diameter, and one of the lightest, weighing just 0.123 grams. This model is known as the Tourbillon Automatic Râ because Jacqueline Dimier’s design accommodates the tiny regulator (one of the smallest ever produced) gave the appearance of the sun, its rays spreading across the dial. This complicated wristwatch, of which 401 pieces were produced until 1992, opened a new path for haute horlogerie, which then revived prestigious mechanisms, including the tourbillon watches.

Thirty years after Jacqueline Dimier’s model, the Manufacture, known for its ability to innovate, launches a series of research and development models. In 2015, Audemars Piguet presented its first prototype, the RD#1 Royal Oak Concept Répétition Minutes Supersonnerie. The result of 8 years of research in collaboration with the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) and an expert panel of watchmakers, engineers, musicians and sound specialists, this watch features Supersonnerie3 technology. This system, the subject of 3 patents, combining a percussion mechanism and an innovative cabinet architecture, marks a significant advance in terms of acoustic performance, diffusion volume and tonal beauty. The RD#1, presented at SIHH that same year, enabled the Manufacture to launch the marketable version Royal Oak Concept Répétition Minutes Supersonnerie a year later, which won the 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in the Won the Mechanical Exception category.

Royal Oak Automatic Ultra-Thin Flying Tourbillon

Royal Oak Automatic Extra-Thin Flying Tourbillon (RD#3) © Audemars Piguet

In 2019, Audemars Piguet launched the Royal Oak Calendar Perpetual Ultra-Thin Automatic 41 mm, the innovative prototype of which was presented at SIHH a year earlier under the name RD#2. This calendar watch, whose case is 6.3mm thick, houses a movement that is only 2.89mm thick, making it the thinnest automatic calendar watch in the world at the time. To achieve this feat, the calendar features normally arranged on three levels have been merged into one. The manufacture’s experts have also developed two patented innovations relating to the integration of the month end cam into the date wheel and the assignment of the month cam to the month wheel. The Royal Oak Calendar Perpetual Ultra-Plat Automatic marks a turning point in the history of complicated watches and will bring Audemars Piguet the Grand Prix de l’Aiguille d’Or at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in November 2019.

This year, the Manufacture in Le Brassus unveils its new technical breakthrough with the Royal Oak Extra-Plat Automatic Flying Tourbillon. Following in the footsteps of previous innovations, these two RD#3 references with the new caliber 2968 combine technical innovation and aesthetic sophistication in a subtle homage to the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak.


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