As you probably noticed already, the SIHH 2010 expo results in a lot of new and impressive timepieces by numerous manufacturers. Unfortunately, I could not make it to the SIHH and GTE myself this year, but at least I am able to track all new releases via WatchUseek, Perpetuelle, TimeZone and WorldTempus.
Audemars Piguet is also exhibitor at the SIHH in Geneva and was actually the first brand that I kept an eye on, since I’ve seem to be bitten by the AP bug. The ‘regular’ Royal Oak timepieces suits me best and not the Offshore models. These are too bulky for me and I am not too sure about all the exotic materials AP uses for these watches. This year, I am lucky, because Audemars Piguet introduced a variety of interesting Royal Oak watches, including a non-limited skeletonized version of the 15300 model and an all new Royal Oak Equation of Time in stainless steel. Also available in gold of course, to match your yacht when you hang out in Saint Tropez.
The 42mm diameter case houses an incredible complicated movement, caliber 2120/2808, consisting out of 423 parts. Base caliber 2120 is only a mere 2.45mm thick, including the rotor and all the complications added to this movement (hence the 2808 addition in the movement number) add another 2.90mm to be able to show the Hours, Minutes, Date, Day, Leap Year, Equation of Time, Astronomical Moonphase Display and the Sunrise and Sunset times for a given location.
Although the equation of time probably doesn’t come to mind when thinking of a neat complication for your timepiece, at least not in my mind, it is a very impressive functionality to measure the difference between our conventional time and true solar time. For instance, if you’d measure time using a sundial, it will become apparent that it doesn’t indicate the same time as your watch, the differences can add up to 16.25 minutes. This variation is due to the earth’s elliptical path around the sun as well as its tilted rotation axis. For convenience, modern societies have calculated an average of all the days of the year and defined the mean solar day as comprising 24 hours, corresponding to so-called legal time.
Photo courtesy of Horomundi.com
AP explains as follows:
“The mean solar culmination point depends on your exact location, on the longitude of a given location on the globe. The equation of time read-off system developed by Audemars Piguet takes account of this specific place. Unlike most other equation of time mechanisms, it is not set to a given time zone selected by the manufacturer, typically corresponding to 15 degrees longitude. The ?¢?Ç¨?ìworld standard time?¢?Ç¨¬ù system divides the world into 24 time zones and takes the Greenwich meridian as the zero point. While the official time is thus the same across the width of each time zone, true solar time varies by four minutes per degree (15 degrees=1 hour). Therefore, although the clocks on the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich and on the Rue du Rh?É¬¥ne in Geneva indicate the same time, true noon – the point in the day when a sundial shows no shadow, or put another way, the sun is exactly directly overhead, can be observed a few minutes earlier in Zurich than in Geneva.
Not only does the Audemars Piguet mechanism take into account this local variation, it also enables one to read off the solar culmination time at any time of the day. To do so, this exceptional mechanism is personalised and adjusted according to the degree of longitude chosen by its owner. The name of the chosen city and the solar zenith in this place are engraved on the ring (such as 12.36 for Geneva). The ring also bears a graduated scale running from -15 to + 15 minutes. The zero point of the graduation is located exactly at the mean solar culmination time in the chosen place. The equation of time hand continuously displays the difference between the two values. When the hour hand corresponds to the time indicated on the graduated ring and the equation of time and minute hands are superimposed, the owner of the watch knows that the sun is exactly at its zenith. It’s exactly as if he had a sundial on his wrist, and there is no need for any mental arithmetic!”
The perpetual calendar and sunrise and sunset complications probably need no introduction, however, the combination of all these features make this one hell of a complicated timepiece. All this, without losing the original 1972 octagon shaped bezel and case design. Audemars Piguet did an excellent job, demonstrating their master watchmaker skills and using their proven Royal Oak concept. Although some people complain that Audemars Piguet is almost equal to Royal Oak (and admitted, they have plenty of other interesting collections currently), this one stands out and is hard to dispute with. No Offshore-ish design, no rubber or high-tech materials such as carbon or ceramics, just back to basics with their stainless steel case that represents the original Royal Oak model and a superb complicated mechanical masterpiece. I love this timepiece.
Photo by Paul Boutros @ TimeZone
The 26603ST (stainless steel) and 26603OR (gold) are only available on a leather strap, for now. The AP folding clasp has the famous AP monogram and comes in either stainless steel or gold. Prices will be probably published later on, when they are bound to appear in the AP boutiques and at authorized AP dealers.
Good work Audemars Piguet! Besides the Equation of Time and the before mentioned skeletonized Royal Oak Date ref.15305, there are a number of Offshores in the new programme. A Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix Collection, Offshore Diver, Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph and an Offshore Chronograph in 37mm, intended for men. Uhuh, we all know where the 37mm Chronograph is going to end…