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millenary carbon one tourbillon chronograph By jack forster

not dimensionally stable thermally — when the temperature changes, the dimensions of brass components change. These are not usually major problems in traditional watchmaking, but it is a fact that these changes do occur. In a carbon-fiber baseplate, however, there is virtually no change of this sort — carbon fiber is highly dimensionally stable during temperature changes and it does not alter its shape over time, meaning that a hole you drill today will be exactly where you drilled it 100 years from now.” In forged carbon, the Millenary case takes on a whole new feel, projecting an assured sense of masculine power combined with the graceful architecture that is the signature element of the second-generation Millenary case — an architecture which has made it Octavio Garcia’s favorite canvas for complications.


a carbon-fiber body and aluminum crankcase. Both materials figured in the design of the Millenary MC12 and are used to full aesthetic effect in the MC-1, but to an even greater extent. The MC-1 shares the eloxed aluminum bridges and carbonfiber movement baseplate of the MC12, but for the first time, the Millenary case has been executed in forged carbon. Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi founder and CEO, Giulio Papi, as well as Octavio Garcia, were present at the launch of the MC-1 at Audemars Piguet’s Geneva boutique in late 2009 and reiterated their commitment to the use of exotic materials only in non-active parts of the watch — thus, components such as the going train, escapement, and columnwheel chronograph parts are all made of traditional steel and brass. However, according to Papi, there are, nonetheless, engineering advantages to carbon. Says Papi, “When you use brass, you drill a hole for a pivot and because of the properties of brass, which changes dimensionally over time, the pivot hole tends to shift position slightly. Ideally we would use, so to speak, ‘aged’ stock of metal for watchmaking, but this is of course not practical. In addition, brass is




because of its unique design, the oval-shaped Millenary case has always been a challenge for Audemars Piguet. According to AP design director Octavio Garcia, however, realizing the Millenary’s potential is what excites him the most, and he’s done so in a spectacular fashion with the most recent member of the slowly growing family of Audemars Piguet forged-carbon watches — the Millenary Carbon One. The MC-1 is based on the design and architecture of a well-known predecessor, the Millenary MC12, a design homage to the Maserati MC12 — the famous and highly successful 2004 mid-engine coupe which featured, among other design attributes,

+16 minutes throughout the year due to the elliptical shape of the earth’s orbit as well as its inclined axis of rotation. In addition, the cal. 2120/2808 remains the only watch movement capable of indicating the daily time of solar culmination — that is, the time when the sun reaches its zenith — directly; this occurs when the equation-of-time hand and the minute hand overlap during the time interval engraved on the rehaut, or inner bezel. Heretofore, the only frame within which to view and enjoy this celestial ballet mécanique has been that offered by the Jules Audemars case — classic, certainly, and timelessly elegant, to pull a well-worn pebble from the stream of horological clichés, but not one with the broad appeal of the Royal Oak case. Fortunately for those who prefer the heady wine of high complications in the crystal of more contemporary design, Audemars Piguet now offers exactly the same fascinating window to the heavens in the octagonal frame of the Royal Oak — a move sure to open new eyes, and a new audience, to the unalloyed pleasure of having a little bit of heaven on your wrist.


to say that the royal oak design by Gérald Genta, which was first launched by Audemars Piguet in 1972, is aging well is like saying there’s an argument for giving Château d’Yquem a few years to rest — it’s an almost laughable understatement. Far from becoming a respected but stolid classic in the nearly 40 years since its launch, the Royal Oak has achieved a perennial freshness and vitality that makes each year’s new models — whether in the classic Royal Oak case sizes, or in the larger Offshore cases — one of the SIHH’s most eagerly awaited debuts. This year, Audemars Piguet has given the Royal Oak — whose octagonal bezel is said to have been inspired by the shape of the portholes of its namesake British naval cruiser — a brand new engine. The Royal Oak now houses the superlative caliber 2120/2808 movement which had, up to now, only been available in the watch for which it was originally constructed: the Jules Audemars Equation of Time. The complications which Audemars Piguet has added to the extra-flat base caliber 2120 are exceedingly rare in any modern wristwatch: a perpetual calendar, a moonphase display accurate to one day’s error in 122 years, a sunrise/sunset display calibrated to the owner’s exact home latitude and longitude, and finally, the austerely beautiful equation of time, which is most intuitively understood as showing the difference between civil time and true solar time, which varies between -14 and




audemars piguet royal oak equation of time

for a wristwatch whose namesake has all the nautical resonances of the Royal Oak, the absence of a true dive watch has always been something of a puzzling lacuna in the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore collections. Well, puzzle no more, compressed-air-breathing Royal Oak fans, for there is a true ISO 6425 (the international standard defining a “dive watch”) compliant Royal Oak at last. Technically (and appropriately) a member of the Offshore family of Royal Oaks, the Royal Oak Offshore Diver actually exceeds the requirements of ISO 6425 in that it is water resistant to 300m. The requisite unidirectional rotating bezel is there, activated by a second rubber-shrouded crown at the 10 o’clock position, and enough SuperLuminova has been deployed onto the large baton hands and markers to ensure the visibility in total darkness at 25cm distance that the standard requires. Easily capable of passing the additional shock-resistance

royal oak and antimagnetic requirements (which call for a resistance to a minimum of 4.800A/m), this is a Royal Oak as tough as its namesake man-o’-war. Unlike most of the watches in the Offshore family, the Offshore Diver is not a chronograph; however, chronograph timing functionality is largely superfluous in a turning-bezel-equipped dive watch, and the absence of the complication affects the suggested retail price in a way that makes this a watch to, ahem, watch closely — while cost will vary according to the market, in general, it’s clear that this superbly handsome timepiece is actually priced at close to an entry-level point for Audemars Piguet, making it a viable

offshore diver and extremely attractive alternative to the Audemars Piguet fan for whom the field was previously restricted, essentially, to the lovely but solitary Ref. 15300 Royal Oak. Priced at an entry level but in no way looking like an entry-level watch, the Royal Oak Offshore Diver will undoubtedly adorn the wrists of many Audemars Piguet fans, and even the wrists of their children, because this timepiece is, as the brand’s CEO Philippe Merk describes it, “the ideal ‘first watch’ that I would want to give to my son”.


the word “tourbillon” means “whirlwind”, and this latest addition to the family of complicated Offshore Royal Oaks, while not new in terms of its combination of complications — the tourbillon and chronograph have been, of course, combined by Audemars Piguet before — it does unquestionably break new ground in terms of the visual impact created by A. L. Breguet’s wrist-twister. For AP cognoscenti, the immediate forebear of the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph is immediately apparent; the new watch is irresistibly reminiscent of the famous and extremely rare Royal Oak Concept watch which debuted at the 2002 SIHH. The Royal Oak Concept watch featured an Alacrite case (an alloy of cobalt, chromium and tungsten), a new crown function clutch system, and a new shock-absorbing system for the tourbillon carriage, as well as a vertical-linear power reserve. Its descendant shares the visual impact of a vertically oriented tourbillon upper bridge and the open dial that exposes the mechanisms of the watch. However, this is less a Formula One than a luxury Gran Turismo timepiece — the case follows the classic Offshore lines and is executed in pink gold, creating a rich contrast with the forged carbon bezel. The Tourbillon Chronograph continues the use of eloxed aluminum as a movement component as well, giving Audemars Piguet a wide palette of both colors and textures to choose from (shaving some weight from the watch as well). But where the new Tourbillon Chronograph really breaks away from its cyborg-styled predecessor is in its power reserve — the Royal Oak Concept watch has a run time of just over 70 hours, but the manual-wound Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph’s twin fast-rotating barrels serve up a whopping 237 hours — just three hours shy of a full 10-day power reserve.




audemars piguet royal oak offshore tourbillon chronograph

audemars piguet has created a number of Royal Oak Offshore watches intended to honor both events and drivers in the world of high-end and high-speed motorsports, but the Royal Oak Offshore “Grand Prix” models introduced this year are perhaps the most overtly influenced by automotive design cues of any such watches that Audemars Piguet has ever made. The Offshore design, which was the (at first controversial) brainchild of AP



audemars piguet royal oak offshore grand prix collection

designer Emmanuel Gueit, is the backbone of Audemars Piguet’s worldwide rocket ride to the top of the horological charts, to such an extent that it’s hard to believe that when Gueit first tried to talk then-CEO GeorgesHenri Meylan into making it, Meylan’s laconic response was, “Look, I’m sorry, but you’re crazy.” Since its introduction in 1993, it’s had more incarnations than a misbehaving Zen Buddhist monk, but each one has fueled the insatiable worldwide demand for this instantly recognizable, but still extremely exclusive, timepiece. With the Offshore Grand Prix collection, Audemars Piguet has pushed the integration of automotive design — and materials — to new extremes. Forged carbon is used as the bezel material across all three models; a material with clear ties to the carbon fiber used in F1 racing, but different as well. Carbon fiber consists of extremely thin but strong fibers composed mostly of carbon atoms, but forged carbon is raw strands of carbon fiber placed in a mold and pressed at over 300kg/cm2 of force, resulting in a material with a molecular structure fundamentally different from the graphene sheets that form ordinary carbon-fiber strands. The advantages, however, are the same — enormous strength and near weightlessness (forged carbon has a higher tensile strength than steel, although it is reportedly slightly more brittle and susceptible to superficial surface damage). Forged carbon lends its unique aesthetic effect to models in full forged-carbon cases, platinum or pink gold; and ceramic, as well as eloxed aluminum, round out both the hautehorlogerie- and automotive-influenced suite of materials used. Combined with such elements as the ventilated brake-disc styling of the bezels and the dashboard chronograph subdial styling, these limited editions are poised from the starting line to go as fast as the cars from which they draw their spirited design. H

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