Le Brassus, April 2022 – Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet proudly unveils its latest research and development breakthrough (RD#3) with the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin. This 39 mm stainless steel anniversary model, measuring 8.1 mm in thickness, represents the first “Jumbo” in history to be equipped with a selfwinding flying tourbillon. It is powered by the Manufacture’s new selfwinding ultra-thin flying tourbillon movement, Calibre 2968, measuring just 3.4 mm thick and adorned with a novel combination of traditional and contemporary hand-crafted decorations. Audemars Piguet’s watchmakers have met several technical challenges to bring this timepiece to life, while devoting particular attention to aesthetic details. Pushing the boundaries of feasibility, this model will be complemented in September by a second 37 mm version for the slimmer wrists, enriched with a dial of a different hue.
A New Ultra-thin Flying Tourbillon Movement
At the heart of this new innovation is Calibre 2968, an ultra-thin selfwinding flying tourbillon movement that was developed over a five-year period. Audemars Piguet’s engineers and watchmakers took on numerous challenges in order to accommodate this complication previously reserved for 41 mm diameters – into the smaller volume of a “Jumbo:” a first for the Manufacture and one of the rare examples in the watch industry as a whole. Given the extra-thin nature of the form language, this selfwinding flying tourbillon had to be creatively rethought to reduce the thickness required to house this complication by repositioning certain components. The tourbillon cage, which is crafted in titanium, is notably equipped for the first time with a peripheral drive.1 The combination of these two elements not only makes the distribution of energy to the tourbillon more fluid, but also served to lighten and refine this regulating organ.
In order to provide optimum visibility of the tourbillon and the movement, Audemars Piguet engineers completely redesigned the architecture of the mechanism. The Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin features a new escapement to accentuate the aesthetic details while revealing part of the movement’s workings. The geometry and positioning of the balance wheel arms have notably been revised in such a way as to make the watch’s beating heart even more perceptible. The technical design of the movement results in the flying tourbillon being placed at the dial level, for a greater visual experience.
The hand decoration of the movement components, visible through the sapphire caseback, combines the dynamism and classicism of V-angles with the modernity of traits tirés – a finish that appears on the mainplate and bridges and replaces the traditional Côtes de Genève. The openworked, rhodium-toned bridges offer an unobstructed view, contrasting with the pink-goldtoned colour of certain mechanism elements.
“The Royal Oak continues to evolve and cut through the timeline 50 years after its creation and will do so for the next 50 years and beyond. It remains a platform for both technical and aesthetic development, as demonstrated by the new ultra-thin flying tourbillon making its debut on both the classic 39 mm and the celebrated 37 mm Royal Oak models. The movement architecture was designed to offer a unique view of the smaller cage while showcasing an engaging contrast of hand-finishing techniques throughout. ”
Head of Complications
A Refined and Slender Design
The new RD#3 remains true to the aesthetic codes of the iconic “Jumbo” models. The stainless steel case and bracelet feature the collection’s signature satin-brushed and polished hand finishes, while the timepiece is graced with a Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 Petite Tapisserie dial which pays tribute to the original model. The colour is obtained using a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) process that guarantees a uniform and lasting tone across all the dials.
Just as on the 1972 model, this new “Jumbo” reference is distinguished by bathtub-shaped hourmarkers and hands filled with luminescent material to ensure optimal readability in the dark. The Audemars Piguet signature, like the minute track, is printed in white on the Tapisserie motif. The titanium flying tourbillon cage rotating at 6 o’clock stands out against the blue Tapisserie backdropto create an airy effect.
Contrary to the original model, the contemporary version is endowed with a sapphire caseback, which reveals the new ultra-thin movement and the dedicated oscillating weight.
A Dedicated “50-years” Oscillating Weight
The Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin features a central oscillating weight mounted on ball bearings and equipped with two reversers2 that ensure bidirectional winding. The timepiece is fitted with the dedicated anniversary openworked oscillating weight in rhodium-toned 22-carat pink gold, which bears the “50-years” logo and the Audemars Piguet signature engraved on its surface. Matching the tones of the stainless steel case and bracelet, it is also adorned with the collection’s trademark polished and satin-brushed finishes.
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