Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet has unveiled its first Royal Oak Selfwinding for the smaller wrists fully crafted in black ceramics. The sleek aesthetics of this black model in 34 mm is enhanced with pink gold accents for a refined two-tone contrast. Timeless and versatile, the black hues will seamlessly complement the unique style of its wearer.
A sophisticated armour in shades of black
Audemars Piguet’s summer collection finds inspiration in its variegated materials and colours. The latest 34 mm Royal Oak Selfwinding explores the creative possibility of black ceramics by combining advanced technology with time-honoured craftsmanship. The timepiece’s robust build hand finished to the nines offers inspiring contrasts and plays of light.
Black ceramics’ aesthetic beauty also lies in its technical complexity, each ceramic model requiring dedicated manufacturing and hand-finishing processes. Making its appearance in the 34 mm Royal Oak Selfwinding collection, the composition and manufacturing of this unyielding material had to be adapted to the watch’s diminutive size, without compromising on the Royal Oak’s proportions, aesthetic codes and finishing techniques.
Zirconium Oxide (ZrO2) powder, mixed with dedicated binder content is transformed into ceramics through a complex industrial flow requiring different stages of high-precision machining. The exact composition of ceramics remains the secret of its manufacturers. Pigments of colours are added to the powder before the manufacturing process, making it an integrant part of the material. The components achieve their final colour only once they have been sintered at more than 1400°C. Reaching a homogeneous colour across all components represents an additional challenge as pigments are extremely sensitive to temperature variations. Each ceramic component is pre-polished and pre-satin-brushed, before being finished by hand with the Manufacture’s trademarked alternation of satin-brushing and polished chamfers. This light, yet ultra-resistant and scratchproof material protects the movement like an armour, while the detailed hand finishing embellishes the case and bracelet with an ever-changing play of light.
The depth and intensity of black ceramics is illuminated by scintillating pink gold accents. Eight hexagonal screws, exceptionally crafted in 18-carat pink gold, secure the bezel to the case, while bringing a subtle touch of colour. Each has been meticulously finished by hand.
The Royal Oak Selfwinding timepiece sports a black “Grande Tapisserie” dial highlighted with 18-carat pink gold hour-markers and hands to further the watch’s understated two-tone aesthetics. The dial’s guilloché design – one of the Royal Oak’s trademarks – is achieved following an in-house know-how no longer taught in horology school. Little squares are carved out on the dial’s thin metal plate by an engraving machine dating back to the 1970s that reproduces the motif of a pattern. Small diamond shapes are simultaneously cut out in the thin grooves separating the squares in a seamless “weave” that creates a tapestry appearance. This process requires utmost dexterity and precision.
The selfwinding movement, Calibre 5800, has been conceived for the Royal Oak’s 34 mm line unveiled last year and features 50 hours of power reserve and water resistance up to 50 metres deep. Part of its inner workings and dedicated pink gold oscillating weight are visible through the watch’s sapphire titanium caseback. Keeping with tradition, the movement has been assembled and finished with “Côtes de Genève”, circular graining as well as satin and sunray-brushing.