In 2019, Audemars Piguet introduced the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar, with a 2.89mm movement and a 6.30mm case. The watch, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin (or Royal Oak QP Ultra-Thin to make it simple) in a titanium case with platinum alloy parts, was based on the RD#2 concept revealed a year earlier. That year it received the Aiguille d’Or, the top prize at the GPHG, in recognition of its creativity and innovation. Today the brand unveils a new limited edition of the Royal Oak QP Ultra-Thin, in full titanium (no more platinum parts), and with a cool gradient blue dial.
Audemars Piguet has been at the forefront of the successful development of ultra-thin mechanics as early as the 1920s, with a record-thin 1.32mm pocket watch movement presented in 1921, followed by a hand-wound 1.64mm wristwatch movement in 1938. The company returned to the scene in 1967 with a self-winding calibre of only 2.45mm thick, and a little over ten years later, in 1978, excited the world with its self-winding perpetual calendar watch movement, world-record 3.95mm thin. The 2019 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak QP Ultra-Thin, the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar back then, held the record for two years until Bulgari launched the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar (2.75mm movement, 5.80mm case). Nevertheless, AP’s perpetual calendar is still an exceptional timepiece, so the rank is not that important.
The latest version of the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is presented in a 41mm titanium case with a satin-brushed titanium bracelet, and it differs from the model released in 2019 mostly aesthetically, with the sunburst “smoky-blue” dial with three “snailed” black counters created exclusively for this reference. The previous edition had a matte, vertically brushed dial with tone-on-tone sub-counters. Almost nothing else was touched (more on that in a bit); and frankly, it is hard to imagine any design improvements to this stunning watchmaking opus.
The applied white gold hour markers are a familiar shape, as are the matching Royal Oak signature hour and minute hands, all with luminescent coating. The calendar data is printed in white, making the indications legible despite the abundance of information available. One can only admire the moon phase crescent aperture over the Audemars Piguet logo – a poetic complication every QP must have, if you follow me.
The case of this Royal Oak QP Ultra-Thin, as already mentioned, is made of grade 5 titanium, and so are the octagonal bezel and the bracelet, with alternating polished and satin-brushed surfaces, a trademark finishing feature of Audemars Piguet. And this is where this new limited edition reference 26586TI differs from the previous all-blue edition, which featured polished platinum bezel and mid-links. It’s all titanium now. The caseback has a sapphire crystal to study the works of the Calibre AP 5133, measuring just 2.89mm thick.
The view allows some understanding of how the slim profile was achieved. Still, the unseen dial side part of the movement reveals the secrets – luckily, the image is made available by Audemars Piguet. You can notice components distributed horizontally, and the QP module construction was redesigned to become a single-level element. Also, the date wheel and the 48-month wheel responsible for the calculation and proper display of the calendar indications were re-engineered to reduce the overall height of the movement. These are just a few examples of what contributed to the creation of the calibre 5133, and it is worth mentioning that this movement is simplified compared to the calibre 5134 (based on the earlier calibre 2120) that power “regular” Perpetual Calendar references in the Royal Oak and Code 11.59 collections, and has only 256 parts.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Smoky-Blue and Titanium is a rightful heir to the award-winning model. It is one of many references that place AP at the top in the haute horlogerie world. Two things to ask are better water resistance (currently 20m) and a more extended power reserve (now guaranteed to run for a minimum of 40 hours). Still, it is a great watch as it is. The price is indicated as “upon request”. For more information, please visit www.audemarspiguet.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.