Audemars Piguet The Double Heartbeat

Like blood vessels carrying blood, the balance wheel and balance spring are closely related and of utmost significance to mechanical watches. Besides providing stable forces, they have to be shock resistant and capable to counter the effects of gravity with a view to ensuring precise timekeeping. Audemars Piguet, after using two balance springs, this year presents us the double balance wheels assembly on the same axis. With the openworked structure, the wearer can appreciate the alluring mechanical heartbeat within.

Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked

It is not uncommon to see double-balance wheel in watchmaking. We had seen the quad-balance wheel two years before. Yet, this is the world’s first – equipped with the double-balance spring, the two balance wheels are placed one over another. In fact, the double balance spring and balance wheel escapement system has taken the Manufacture 6 years to develop. This head-to-tail flat double-balance spring is equipped on the balance wheel to correct the “Phillips curve” problem and the lubricant-free design also helps reduce the interference to the regulator system. This unparalleled escapement system is highly valued by the Manufacture and housed in the complications such as the Millenary Minute Repeater and Jules Audemars Chronometer.

This year, two balance springs are coupled separately with two golden balance wheels. Just look at the piece at an oblique angle, then you’ll see the two balance wheel assembly on the same axis. Its structure is totally different with the common separate balance wheels setting; such design is like no other. Hence, the Manufacture has patented the geometry for this new “Dualbalance”. Apart from its ground-breaking structure, the double-balance wheel has an off-centre setting at 6 to 9 o’clock and showcases the mechanical heart thanks to the slate-grey openworked dial.

The technical feat of the system has greatly improved precision and stability, showing the sheer mastery of the Manufacture. In addition, the level of finishing is top-notch throughout, from filing, decorating, polishing and round angling, all done by hand. Though the dial is not skeletonisd, the multi-layered structure is still captivating with its graceful contour. Available in either stainless steel or pink gold, the subtle and luxurious details has made this simple three-hand watch so exceptional.

Case:pink gold / steel
Movement:automatic 3132
Power reserve:45 hours
Water resistance:50metres
Price:around $603,000 / $346,000

The in-house automatic movement 3132 is composed of 245 parts

The double-balance wheel is beating at a rate of 21,600v/h with a power reserve no less than 45 hours.

Through the caseback can see the 22K gold rotor and the refined engraving on the movement.

Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar

Back in 1972, the Royal Oak was the first high-end sports watch made of steel, instead of using precious metals. During the quartz crisis, the Manufacture stood firmly and developed the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar movement 2120/2800 of its time and put it into the Royal Oak collection in 1985, of which 229 of the 279 pieces made were cased in yellow gold. Royal Oak, yellow gold, perpetual calendar, therefore, means a great deal to Audemars Piguet. We’ve seen the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in steel and pink gold last year, and this year the Manufacture finally rolls out the long-awaited yellow gold version.

To perfectly match the golden tone, the new lighter blue of the dial harmonises beautifully with the case and is decorated with the “Grande Tapisserie” pattern, a signature AP fashion. The four sub-dials indicate the day of the week, date, month and leap year, while the astronomical moonphase and the week of the year are orderly display at 6 o’clock and the outer ring respectively. Last but not least, this handsome piece is powered by the brand new 5134 automatic movement.

Case:yellow gold
Movement:automatic 5134
Functions:hours, minutes, perpetual calendar, moonphase
Power reserve:40 hours
Water resistance:20metres
Price:around $751,000

Millenary Openworked

Next up is the Millenary Openworked. Since the Millenary 4101 launched in 2011, the Manufacture has reversed the movement on the dial side and assigned the balance wheel hovering on the left, making the piece half-skeletonised. The latest offering is dubbed as Openworked. Only does the small second dial at 7 o’clock boast a black dial, while the rest of the dial are skeletonised and set with pink gold applied Roman numerals, underscoring the 4105 automatic movement treated with NAC grey plating.

Featuring a golden balance wheel and yellow gold rotor, the watch has the arc-shaped bridges echoing the distinctive oval-shaped case to give an eye-catching look. You may remember the golden brand logo is stamped on the dial in the Millenary lineup. But it is not the case on this watch, for its dial is thoroughly skeletonised. So the logo is now engraved at 9’clock.

Case:pink gold
Dimension:47 x 42mm
Movement:automatic 4105
Functions:hours, minutes, seconds
Power reserve:60 hours
Water resistance:20metres
Price:around $528,000

Only does the small second dial at 7 o’clock boast a black dial.

The 4105 and 4101 movement are both derived from the 3120 movement.

Lady Millenary

Besides the Openworked piece, the Manufacture creates also two bejewelled Millenary watches. This Lady Millenary revisits the classic design and embedded with onyx and diamonds. Thus, the dial features the unusual zebra-like strips, lending a refreshed look to the piece.

The remarkable dial design is interlaced by round diamonds and gleaming black onyx to build the geometric weave. As if the dial is not impressive enough, such graphic dial pattern even extends from the off-centre dial to the balance bridge and main plate of the 5205 hand-wound movement. A technical challenge reminds us how the Manufacture’s gem-setters and watchmakers work side-by-side to develop this ornate timepiece – the case and the lugs are paved with diamonds, while the crown is adorned with an onyx cabochon. Cased in white gold, the piece is sized at 39.5x 35.4mm and complemented by a black alligator strap.

Case:white gold
Dimension:39.5 x 35.4mm
Movement:hand-wound 5205
Functions:hours, minutes, seconds
Power Reserve:49 hours
Water resistance:20metres
Diamonds:578 diamonds (approximately 2.36 carats)
Price:around $615,000

The graphic pattern extends from the off-centre dial to the small second dial, balance bridge and plate

To match the zebra-like strips, the main plate is decorated with the same pattern.

Lady Millenary

Since last year, the Millenary case has been diminished to 39.5mm and equipped with the 5201 hand-wound movement, admirably thin at 4.16mm, so that the piece sits more comfortably on ladies’ wrist. If you think the aforementioned Millenary watch with zebra-like strips is too sparkling for daily wear, the Manufacture also offers three diamond-set versions. The white gold case model with a blue sapphire crown is embellished with 574 diamonds (2.19 carats). The other two rose gold models featuring a mother-of-pearl dial are adorned with 116 diamonds (0.6 carats) and come with a pink sapphire crown.

To suit all preferences, Audemars Piguet specially provides the ladies with over 100 different colours of straps, plus more than 10 alligator straps options. Besides the pink, light blue and violet colour you’re seeing (the violet strap offer 2 different coloured stitching). Other choice includes pearl anthracite, black, dark blue, dark tobacco, wine, sparkle chocolate, beige, light grey, all white and pure white, all fitted with the 39.5mm Millenary case. The watch comes with two straps or the wearers can pick their own favourite colours of straps (extra charge is needed).

Case:white gold / pink gold
Dimension:39.5 x 35.4mm
Movement:hand-wound 5201
Functions:hours, minutes, seconds
Power reserve:54 hours
Water resistance:20metres
Diamonds:574 diamonds (approximately 2.19 carats) / 116 diamonds (approximately 2.36 carats)
Price:around $476,000 (white gold fully-paved model) / around $223,000 (pink gold model) / around $241,000 (white gold model)

On the fully-paved model, the off-centre dial is set with diamonds, while the small second dial is made of mother-of-pearl.

Depending on the models, the Millenary watches are embedded with different cabochons on the crown.

The watch houses the slim and long power reserve 5201 hand-wound movement developed last year.

Over 100 different designs of straps are on offer. Above are 11 of the alligator straps… (from left: pearl anthracite, black, dark blue, dark chocolate, violet, wine, sparkle chocolate, beige, light grey, all white and pure white )