For many of us, a concept watch is designed to show off a brand’s technical skills and potential direction for the future. Like the concept cars the idea was borrowed from, concept watches tend to be cutting-edge, humongously complex, far-out timepieces that are eventually toned down and evolve into tamer commercial editions or never see the light of day. At Audemars Piguet, the first Royal Oak Concept watch was unveiled in 2002 and, in an unusual turn, evolved into a full-fledged collection known as the Royal Oak Concept. One of its members, the Flying Tourbillon GMT, is back in the limelight with a new green ceramic bezel – a first for this collection -, green accents on the openworked dial and the imposing 44mm titanium case built like a rampart to protect the in-house movement.
Royal Oak Concept
Twenty years ago, AP celebrated the 30th anniversary of its iconic Royal Oak with the launch of a 150-piece limited edition inspired by a concept car. Not to be confused with the beefed-up Royal Oak Offshore collection introduced in 1993 to mark the Royal Oak’s 20th anniversary, the first Royal Oak Concept watch was a super-charged Royal Oak with a massive 44mm case made of alacrite and titanium and with an openworked dial to showcase the tourbillon with shock-absorbing bridge, a dynamograph to indicate the torque of the mainspring and a linear power reserve indicator. Although the first RO Concept was not replicated, the collection was a permanent platform for experimentation, innovative materials, avant-garde designs and complications. Over the years, we’ve seen the RO Concept Tourbillon & Chronograph (2008), the RO Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT (2011), the patented RO Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher and the RO Concept Acoustic Research Minute Repeater (both in 2015), the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon (2018) and released again in 2021 with the “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon to mark the brand’s partnership with Marvel.
Given its formidable 44mm case diameter and 16.1mm thickness, lightweight yet resilient titanium is the obvious material of choice. Similar to the defensive boundaries protecting a castle, the ramparts of the latest Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT feature a sandblasted finishing and contrasting brushed flanks. The elaborate, angular architecture protecting the push-piece and guarding the screw-down crown feature the same finishings as the case enlivened with a brushed and polished green ceramic crown and matching pusher.
Rising above the ramparts is the Royal Oak’s signature octagonal bezel with eight screws, now crafted in green ceramic with hand-finished satin-brushed surfaces and polished chamfers. Viewed from the side, you can appreciate the integrated design concept as the case and rubber strap flow seamlessly into one another.
Another RO Concept family trait is the use of openworked dials to reveal parts of the movement. With such a thick case, the dial has plenty of depth and plunges dramatically from the hour flange. A series of angular, asymmetric black sandblasted titanium bridges give the dial an edgy vibe. Two open pentagons at 12 and 6 o’clock house the brand logo and crown position indicator (HNR), respectively. Using applied pink gold letters for the AP logo and the HNR, the green background of the logo and crown position indicator is achieved with a Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). The flying tourbillon at 9 o’clock, with two delta-shaped structures on either side, pops out of the dial with its pink gold-toned cage and escapement. For visibility in low light conditions, the pink gold semi-skeletonised hands are filled with luminescent coating, as are the rectangular hour markers on the black sloping flange.
Opposite the flying tourbillon at 3 o’clock is the second time zone function with a golden arrow and the corresponding pusher at 4 o’clock for one-hour adjustments. The hour disc of the GMT is crafted in sapphire with white numerals outlined in black, while the day/night disc, in brass, has two coloured areas: white for daytime and green CVD-coloured numerals for the night. Beneath the openworked bridges, you can also see parts of the escapement and balance wheel.
Matching the bezel and accents on the dial and case, a green rubber strap with a sandblasted titanium AP folding clasp completes the package.
Matching the might construction is a mighty manual-winding movement capable of storing up to 10 days (237 hours) of power reserve thanks to its patented parallel double barrel system. The hand-wound calibre 2954 has 348 components, 24 jewels and measures 35.6mm x 9.15mm. Visible beneath an elaborate, openworked geometric structure of black bridges, the tourbillon at 9 o’clock wheel oscillates at 3Hz.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT Green Ceramic (reference 26589IO.OO.D056CA.01) comes with an additional black rubber strap and will retail for CHF 198,900 (excl. taxes). For more information, please visit audemarspiguet.com.