Which houses the Manufacture’s new self-winding extra-thin movement, Calibre 7121. The collection comprises four models in stainless steel, platinum, as well as 18-carat pink and yellow gold—materials that have played an instrumental role in transforming the Royal Oak into an iconic collection. The four timepieces are also fitted with the dedicated Royal Oak’s “50 years” oscillating weight-matched to the hue of the case. With its refined contrasts, materials, colors, and dial animations, the new “Jumbo” offering pays tribute to 50 years of Royal Oak design innovation.
The new Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin (Ref. 16202) welcomes a new self-winding movement, Calibre 7121, as well as an array of dial designs while paying tribute to the original watch’s aesthetics.
A CONTEMPORARY TAKE ON HISTORY
For the first time since 1972, the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin welcomes a new self-winding hour, minute, and date movement, Calibre 7121, which marks the debut of the new “Jumbo” reference 16202. This mechanism replaces Calibre 2121, the thinnest automatic movement with central rotor and date indication of its time (3.05 mm) first introduced on the Royal Oak in 1972, which retired at the end of 2021. The new movement, which measures 3.2 mm in thickness, has been specifically conceived and produced by Audemars Piguet engineers and watchmakers to fit in the extra-thin 8.1 mm “Jumbo” case without altering its aesthetic and thickness. Furthermore, the driving stem is now endowed with a rapid date-corrector.
Five years of development were necessary for the realization of the new Calibre 7121, which is endowed with more energy than its predecessor thanks to its new construction. Its larger barrel confers it more power, making it more precise for a longer period of time. It is also equipped with a contemporary central oscillating weight mounted on ball bearings that utilizes two reversers developed in-house to ensure bidirectional winding. Its balance wheel is fitted with inertia blocks that have been directly inserted within the balance wheel to avoid unnecessary friction. In addition, Calibre 7121 is equipped with a patented extra-thin low-energy date-setting mechanism.
Upholding fine watchmaking tradition, Calibre 7121 has been finished with refined Haute Horlogerie decorations such as “Côtes de Genève,” “traits tirés” and circular graining that can be admired through the watch’s sapphire case back.
The new Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin timepieces are fitted with the dedicated anniversary open-worked oscillating weight in 22-carat gold, which features the “50 years” logo and the engraved Audemars Piguet signature. For the occasion, the oscillating weight has been matched to the color of each case – a practice usually reserved for complicated timepieces. Similarly to the case, the oscillating weight has been finished with an alternation of satin-finishing and polished chamfers.
The “50 years” oscillating weight will be fitted to the Royal Oak anniversary models throughout 2022.
The stainless steel “Jumbo” version has retained the aesthetics of the original Royal Oak from 1972. The steel case and bracelet, hand-finished with satin-brushing and polished chamfers, are complemented with the watch’s iconic Petite Tapisserie dial and Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 (“night blue, cloud 50”) hue.
The dial’s Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 color was originally developed by Geneva-based dial maker Stern Frères. The blue hue was obtained by immersing each dial in a galvanic bath. While the formulation of the mixture is important, the duration and temperature are both crucial. If the artisan removes the dial too early, it comes out purple, if removed too late it turns black. A thin layer of varnish mixed with a few drops of black color (n° 50) was then applied onto the dial to protect it. The term “Nuage” refers to the cloud that affects the drop of black created when it enters the protective liquid varnish. Today, the Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 hue is achieved internally through PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) to ensure a more homogeneous color across the collection.
Similar to the Royal Oak from 1972, this new “Jumbo” model has kept the original ignore or “bathtub”-shaped hour-markers and hands, which enable the luminescent material to be poured in for optimum legibility. The dial has also retained the polished gold applied AP monogram at 6 o’clock, as well as the printed “AUDEMARS PIGUET AUTOMATIC” mentioned at 12 o’clock. The “SWISS MADE” indication, which came to replace “SWISS” around the mid-1980s, remains positioned at 6 o’clock, with the words SWISS and MADE on either side of the hour-marker to balance the dial.
Yet, contrary to the original model, the sapphire case back grants a view of the new extra-thin movement and the dedicated anniversary oscillating weight, here in rhodium-toned 22-carat pink gold to echo the color of the watch’s steel case and bracelet.
The new “Jumbo” collection includes a pink gold and a yellow gold model, both enhanced with the trademark Petite Tapisserie dial in new smoked shades. The 18-carat pink gold model is contrasted with smoked grey hues, while the 18-carat yellow gold version is illuminated with smoked yellow-gold tones. The two dials’ colors have been obtained through the galvanic bath. The smoked effect, which has been achieved by meticulously spraying colored varnish onto the rotating dial’s periphery, furthers the Tapisserie’s shimmering moiré effect.
The Petite Tapisserie pattern is achieved through a complex manufacturing process based on a rare know-how no longer taught in horology school. It consists of hundreds of small truncated pyramids with square bases carved out on the dial’s thin metal plate by an old guilloché copying machine that reproduces the motif of a matrix. Tens of thousands of diamond shapes, whose four inner faces reflect the light, are simultaneously cut out in the thin grooves separating the squares in a seamless weave that creates a tapestry appearance. This process requires extreme dexterity and precision.
The Petite Tapisserie of the original Royal Oak was first created and produced by Stern Frères, which ceased its activities in 2016. Meanwhile, after acquiring old guilloché copying machines, Audemars Piguet started to develop the craft and techniques internally. In 2010, the first in-house Petite Tapisserie dials came out of the Manufacture’s new dedicated workshop. Today, the guilloché dials of the “Jumbo” models are entirely produced in this atelier.
The two new timepieces are complimented with matching gold hour-markers, Royal Oak hands, and AP monogram – all endowed with the original Royal Oak’s aesthetics. In addition, the corresponding 22-carat pink or yellow gold anniversary oscillating weight can be admired through the sapphire case back.
The first Royal Oak entirely honed from yellow gold was introduced in the collection in 1977 on the women’s Royal Oak (ref. 8638) to respond to markets’ increasing demand. Both the Royal Oak “Jumbo” (ref. 5402BA) and the so-called “Royal Oak III” in 35 mm (ref. 4100BA) also welcomed a yellow gold version a few months later. Less common at the time, pink gold appeared in the Royal Oak collection in the mid-1980s, before joining the “Jumbo” line in 2006, with reference 15202. Both precious materials are today well established across the Royal Oak collection.
Reserved for the AP Houses, this elegant timepiece contrasts its hand-finished 950 platinum case and bracelet with a smoked green dial, whose base is decorated with a sunburst pattern. This auspicious combination introduced last year, was rewarded the best “Iconic” timepiece prize at Geneva’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie in November 2021. The vivid green shade is obtained by adding drops of green coloring to the dial’s protective varnish. The smoked effect on the dial’s periphery accentuates the color’s intensity while giving it more depth.
The dial is punctuated by the traditional “Jumbo” applied hour-markers, AP monogram at 6 o’clock, and ignore-shaped Royal Oak hands, all crafted in white gold. They are echoed by the dedicated anniversary oscillating weight in rhodium-toned 22-carat pink gold visible through the sapphire case back.
Platinum made its debut in the Royal Oak collection in the 1980s, following the introduction of yellow and white gold. The first Royal Oak “Jumbo” limited edition in platinum appeared in 1992 in celebration of both the timepiece’s 20th anniversary and the creation of the Audemars Piguet Foundation. The one-of-a-kind 39 mm Royal Oak Foundation timepiece (Model 14811), auctioned off to support the Foundation, encompassed a dial featuring a yellow gold modeled oak tree depicted by an engraving machine in an echo to the Foundation’s mission to preserve forests worldwide. Other platinum limited editions followed, such as the 39 mm Royal Oak Jubilee (Model 14802) that saw the addition of a 20-piece platinum limited edition in 1995. Over the years, these very small series have provided the Manufacture with a unique territory of expression, showcasing a wide variety in terms of dial designs.
The latest 2022 Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin in platinum represents today one of the rare 39 mm models honed from this precious material that has made its way into the Royal Oak core collection.
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