The Watch Column: Audemars Piguet Unveils The Mighty Royal Oak Concept

Our resident watch columnist on the brand's new concept watch

Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet tends to produce its most-effective timepieces when its design team reins in its ideas, as seen with the all-black Royal Oak Offshore, released last year. However, the century-and-a-half-old brand is not averse to occasionally cutting loose on the design front, as this white ceramic concept watch, first shown at this year’s SIHH watch fair in Geneva, reveals.

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The 2014 Royal Oak Concept GMT Tourbillon is a statement of what Audemars is capable of. Based on its rightly revered Royal Oak, its more outré design makes it a showcase for the venerable brand’s considerable craftsmanship, and a hint at what you might find on your wrist in the near future.

Previous overt concepts have pioneered new techniques for the insides or the case; the 2014 model has both. It boasts a titanium body with a ceramic bezel, paired with a semi-skeletonised movement built around a ceramic central bridge, the watch’s focal point. The need for precision is extreme, with parts measured to micron level, so using ceramic for such a sensitive component is bold.

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The Concept mixes bright angular ceramics and a smooth anodised titanium case. Subtle differences in finish to the movement parts below the bridge complete a high-tech look. The front is qualified by the restrained size (44mm is small for Audemars), though not by the bright white rubber strap.

It’s just about recognisable as the descendant of Gérald Genta’s original Royal Oak, but if it is a grand shop window for less pricey watches to follow, then it’s a job well done (this watch will sell for around £130,000). For now though, that all-black Royal Oak Offshore could just be the one you’re looking for.

audemarspiguet.com

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