Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet is honoured to have contributed to raising funds for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy with its dedicated unique timepiece auctioned off at the 9th edition of the biennial Only Watch charity auction last Saturday. This unique Only Watch piece is the very last unique Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin timepiece, reference 15202, powered by Calibre 2121, the thinnest automatic movement with central rotor and date indication of its time, first introduced on the Royal Oak in 1972. Reference 15202 and Calibre 2121 will officially retire at the end of 2021, making way for the new generation.
While offering new grey hues, the “Petite Tapisserie” dial of this unique watch has retained the original Royal Oak’s typography for the signature and AP monogram as introduced with the 5402 A series. Yet, with an eye to the future, the case and bracelet combine titanium with a new palladium-based alloy, Bulk Metallic Glass – a first at Audemars Piguet.
A UNIQUE COMBINATION
For the first time, the Manufacture complements titanium with Bulk Metallic Glass, a palladium-based alloy notably used in microelectronics. When cooled rapidly, this palladium-based alloy shares several characteristics with other glasses, including amorphicity and high strength, making it highly resistant to wear and corrosion. Its non-crystalline nature results in a unique play of light when hand-finished. Hand-polished Bulk Metallic Glass is used for the bezel, the frame of the sapphire caseback and for the bracelet studs to offer a powerful contrast with the titanium case and bracelet links. The sandblasted titanium case, enhanced with polished chamfers, is complemented with a bracelet adorned with sandblasting (on top), satin-brushing (underneath) and polished chamfers on the edges. It is also the first time that the Manufacture presents a titanium bracelet finished with sandblasting.
The sapphire Bulk Metallic Glass caseback is engraved with “Unique Piece” and the “Pd500” hallmark attests to the alloy’s composition of over 50% palladium.
A DIAL INSPIRED BY THE PAST
While offering new grey hues, the dial of the unique Only Watch piece retains the aesthetic codes of the initial Royal Oak as introduced in 1972 with the 5402 A series. The printed “Audemars Piguet” signature and the mention “Automatic” appearing at 12 o’clock, as well as the applied AP monogram at 6 o’clock present the same position and typography as the original timepiece. In addition, the original printed denomination “Swiss” has been kept under the hour-marker at 6 o’clock.
The dial’s slate grey shades seamlessly match with the case and bracelet. A monochromatic combination exuding timeless elegance.
CALIBRE 2121: TOWARDS A NEW ERA
The dedicated Only Watch timepiece represents the very last unique 15202 and the last unique piece powered by the automatic movement, Calibre 2121, which came to equip the first Royal Oak in 1972. Measuring a mere 3.05 mm in thickness, Calibre 2121 was the thinnest automatic movement with central rotor and date indication of its time.
The legendary movement aligns with the Manufacture’s long history of extra-thin movements. Champion of miniaturisation since 1875, Audemars Piguet quickly charted its own course in the development of extra-small and extra-thin mechanisms with or without complications. In 1938, the manufacturer released hand-wound 9ML Calibre measuring 1.64 mm in thickness, followed in 1953 by its successor Calibre 2003. Calibre 2120 was introduced in 1967 thanks to the collaboration between several prestigious companies. With its 2.45 mm in thickness, it became the thinnest self -winding movement with central rotor of its time. It is on this base that Calibre 2121 was created in 1970, this time with date indication.
While marking the end of an era, the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin Only Watch unique piece also ushers in a new generation of Royal Oak in 39 mm arriving in 2022 for the 50th Anniversary.