Up Close: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel “High Jewellery”

Fine finishing and diamonds.

A watch that combines the famous octagonal case with an innovative movement, the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked is unquestionably the most technically interesting time-only Audemars Piguet (AP) Royal Oak. And then there’s this bejewelled version that’s certainly a lot more extravagant, but at the same time shows off the details and finishing of the movement better.

Initial thoughts

This watch is the ultimate black-tie watch – time-only and eminently classical in size at just 37 mm. In fact, it’s quite a bit smaller than the 41 mm standard model, making it a discreet fit under a cuff that will probably be secured by diamond-set cufflinks. It’s also dressed up with a glossy crocodile strap and a lot of generously sized, baguette-cut diamonds – a technically-inclined watch that takes its bling seriously.

But this is not just another octagonal watch with diamonds. The movement relies on a novel technical concept for better timekeeping, but its technical merits are usually overlooked because it is installed inside a “hot” watch.

And this particular version of the movement is more attractively executed here than on the standard models. Because movement here is plated in silvery rhodium – no doubt to match the dazzling whiteness of the diamonds – it’s more appealing than on the non-jewelled versions that have a dark grey ruthenium finish that’s almost black. While the finishing of the two is essentially identical, the dark finish obscures much of the movement’s details, while this has a bright finish that reveals the finishing well.

One of the adjustable mass balance wheels

Double balance

The cal. 3132 takes a maximalist approach to chronometry with two hairsprings, each with its own balance wheel. It’s essentially a skeletonised version of the workhorse cal. 3120, with the addition of the twin balance wheels.

A conventional flat hairspring is pinned at its two ends, meaning that the coils of the spring expand and contract slightly off centre. When the movement is vertical, the problem is exacerbated due to gravity, which pulls the hairspring downwards and even more off centre.

One solution is the overcoil, which loops the hairspring back upon itself such that both ends are pinned at almost the same spot. Another solution is the double hairspring, where the pair mirror each other’s motion, each “breathing” inversely to its twin, averaging out the errors of each. H. Moser & Cie. uses the double hairspring regularly in its higher-end movements, while Montblanc has experimented with double cylindrical hairsprings.

AP’s elevates the concept with twin balance wheels – one for each hairspring. Though each balance is conventional, weighing the same as the standard balance, there are now two of them, which means the cumulative mass is double. This essentially doubles the inertia of the regulator, resulting in more stable timekeeping, even in the face of shocks that disturb the balances.

The second balance wheel that’s visible from the back

But the added weight means more energy is required to keep the watch running, which is why the power reserve drops, from 60 hours in the standard cal. 3120 with a single balance wheel, to 45 hours here. Though it’s a decline of a third, 45 hours is sufficient.

The solid gold full bridge for the balance on the dial

Ruthenium and gold

To make sure the upgrade is prominent, the balances are secured on both sides by a pair of solid red-gold bridges. This is exactly as it’s done on the standard model, but I would have preferred white gold bridges for the balance on this watch, which would better suit the colours of the diamonds and movement.

The movement is identical to that on the standard model, which means excellent. But the bevels and graining are more apparent here, because of the light colours of the finish. That’s true on both the front and the back.

Maybe because the watch is relatively small compared to the typical Royal Oak, the flange for the minute track and hours is sloped, while the hour markers are inclined even more steeply. That creates a bit of an amphitheatre effect that frames the movement well.

The skeletonisation is clean in style, with the bridges rhodium-plated, brushed on the top, and outlined by wide, polished bevels

Because of the intricacy of the open-working, the bridges incorporate several sharp, inward angles within the bevelled edges. Not all of the inward angles are sharp corners, but there are enough to illustrate the quality of finishing.

The bridge for the automatic winding wheels has eight sharp inward corners on its bevelling, despite its size

White gold and diamonds

The case is 18k white gold, and set with baguette-cut diamonds on the front of both the case and bezel, as well as the crown. It’s just 37 mm, but it looks and feels lightly larger than it is.

The case does, however, feel a bit tall relative to the diameter. That is due in part to the thickness of the movement, but also the slightly higher bezel that is necessary in order to accommodate the diamonds.

At first glance, the case looks naked because the sides are not set with diamonds. But that actually makes sense, just because this is a Royal Oak. Leaving some metal visible means a key characteristic of the Royal Oak is visible, which is the impressive case finishing. Here the brushed case flanks sit beside the polished bevels on the edge of the case, with a sharply defined border between the two.

Concluding thoughts

The diamond-set Double Balance Wheel is a watch for an occasion. Best described as extravagant-black tie, it is bold, but also elegant. And the movement is technically credible, making it a serious watch with a high dose of bling.

Key facts and price

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked
Ref. 15469BC.ZZ.D001CR.01

Diameter: 37 mm
Material: 18k white gold set with diamonds
Crystal: Sapphire
Water-resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 3132
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 45 hours

Strap: Crocodile with folding clasp

Limited Edition: No, but limited production 
Only at boutiques
Price: On request

For more information, visit audemarspiguet.com.


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Introducing the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold 41mm

The glistening standout, now proportioned for men.

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A Detailed Look at the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked

Audemars Piguet tackles one of timekeeping's oldest problems with a first in watchmaking: twin balance wheels, inside the Royal Oak skeleton

Auricoste Revives the Military-Issue Type 20 Flyback Chronograph

A faithful reproduction.

Auricoste was founded in 1854 to make marine chronometers, but is best known for the Type 20 chronographs supplied to the French military in the 1950s. The brand was one of a handful that produced watches according to the “Type 20” military specification for flyback chronographs, alongside Dodane, Vixa, and most famously, Breguet. Now Auricoste has revived the military chronograph with help from vintage watch expert Fabrice Gueroux as the Flymaster Type 20.

Initial thoughts

Auricoste is historically significant, as far as military chronographs go – the vintage-original Type 20 is a valuable watch – though it has fallen off the radar of most watch enthusiasts today. With the Flymaster Type 20, Auricoste is playing to its strengths.

The Flymaster Type 20 should appeal to those looking for a military-inspired pilot’s chronograph. As it is made by one of the original manufacturers of Type 20 watches, the Flymaster Type 20 has added historical provenance as compared to comparably priced alternatives that share a similar aesthetic. And at 3,450 €, or about US$4,100, the watch is significantly more affordable than Breguet’s Type 20, or even Zenith’s Pilot Type 20 watches. It is also a limited edition of 299 pieces, which makes its value proposition even more attractive.

Faithful re-issue

Auricoste and Mr Gueroux took pains to ensure that the Flymaster Type 20 retains much of the vintage original’s DNA. The Flymaster is almost a dead ringer for the original, with the key differences being the automatic Dubois Depraz 42101 movement – leading to a larger case – and the 12-hour or elapsed-time bezel instead of a fluted bezel.

For one, the watch utilises hesalite crystal, instead of sapphire as is the norm on modern watches. The dial is near identical as well, though the positions of the sub-dials have been inverted due to the change in movement. And as is fashionable with remakes, the indices and hands are filled with ivory Super-Luminova to mimic the look of radium.

Perhaps most important is the fact that the Flymaster Type 20 has a smallish, 39.5 mm case, allowing the remake to come very close to the 38 mm of the original. But it is substantially thicker than the original, something that’s only evident in the case profile.

But the watch is modern in several tangible ways. The most obvious being the bezel, which has a glossy finish as a result of being coated in diamond-like carbon (DLC) to boost its scratch resistance.

The Flymaster is powered by the Dubois-Depraz 42021. More accurately, it’s an ETA 2892 with a Dubois-Depraz module on top, creating an automatic movement with a flyback chronograph that has a power reserve of 42 hours.

Key facts and price

Auricoste Flymaster Type 20

Diameter: 39.5 mm
Material: Steel
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Dubois-Depraz 42021
Functions: Hours, minutes, and flyback chronograph
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours

Limited edition: 299 pieces
Availability: Direct from Auricoste

For more, visit Auricoste.fr.


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Audemars Piguet Unveils a Royal Oak Ensemble in Green

Chronograph or tourbillon.

While blue has been the fad for watches for some time, green is recently in vogue, if for no other reason than the endless stream of blue-dial watches. And so the pioneer of the sports-luxury watch has just launched five different Royal Oak models with dials in deep green – the first, but likely not the last, brand to do so this year.

The new offerings are actually a trio of three distinct models, with the simplest – and probably the most appealing – being the classic Royal Oak “Jumbo” with a smoked, sunburst green dial that’s exclusive to AP Houses. In contrast, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph in yellow gold, and the Royal Oak Self-winding Tourbillon (in three variants), all feature the familiar tapisserie guilloche.

The platinum Jumbo, accompanied by a pair of Flying Tourbillons

Initial thoughts

The Royal Oak is the luxury sports watch, and it’s one of today’s hottest watches – in practically every variation. When it comes to insatiable demand, even the most minor of variations will be desirable. So the new green dials will certainly amplify the clamour – because the colour is attractive, deep and lustrous – but also because the colour is unusual for the Royal Oak.

It’s almost amusing to see the brand’s skill in iterating a 40-year old design by drawing on colours, finishes, and complications to make the Royal Oak attractive in myriad ways. That, of course, builds on a recipe that’s both intrinsically appealing and versatile – the Royal Oak is simply a distinctive, good looking watch. The Royal Oak Chronograph, for instance, is attractive in yellow gold and dark green, a slightly retro combination that looks very luxe.

One could argue that the Royal Oak has been iterated too many times, and there are way too many versions of it. But the Royal Oak remains a bestseller decades on, so the reality is there’s probably not enough of it, at least for now.


Yellow gold is relatively uncommon now, as most watchmakers prefer the more fashionable pink gold. Audemars Piguet is among the handful of high-end watchmakers that still uses the alloy, albeit occasionally, having launched an entire line of Royal Oak Chronographs in yellow gold five years ago.

That said, save for the new dial, the rest of the watch is essentially a stock Royal Oak Chronograph – meaning it is big, shiny, finely finished, and expensive looking – but this is perhaps the most striking version to date.

The chronograph is powered by the cal. 2385, which is a Frederic Piguet cal. 1185. A thin and compact movement, the cal. 1185 has been the movement of choice for the Royal Oak Chronograph for some two decades, although odds are it will eventually be replaced by the in-house movement now found in the Code 11.59.

Flying Tourbillon

Launched in three versions, the new Royal Oak Tourbillon is most striking in its titanium version lavishly set with baguette-cut emeralds, giving it a bezel and dial that echo each other. That said, the other two versions are just as good looking, and infinitely more wearable for the average person.

Unlike the chronograph, the Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon has a newer and more sophisticated movement. Launched two years ago, the cal. 2950 was first seen in the Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon with aventurine-glass dial.

It not only has a longer power reserve of 60 hours, but also beautifully designed, as evidenced by the grande sonnerie-style winding click visible above the axis of the rotor.

Key facts and price

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 41 mm
Ref. 26331BA.OO.1220BA.02

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 11 mm
Material: 18 yellow gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water-resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 2385
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 40 hours

Strap: Yellow gold bracelet

Limited Edition: 150 pieces
Availability: Only at boutiques
Price: US$74,800; or 103,900 Singapore dollars

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 41 mm
Ref. 26534TI.OO.1220TI.01 (titanium)
Ref. 26532IC.EE.1220TI.01 (titanium with white gold bezel set with emerald)
Ref. 26533OR.OO.1220OR.01 (pink gold)

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 10.4 mm
Material: Titanium or 18 pink gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water-resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 2950
Functions: Hours, minutes, and tourbillon regulator
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 65 hours

Strap: Matching metal bracelet

Limited Edition:
Titanium – 50 pieces
Titanium with emerald – 15 pieces
Pink Gold – 10 pieces
Only at boutiques
Titanium –CHF139,100
Titanium with emeralds  –  CHF273,000
Pink gold – CHF170,000

Prices exclude taxes 

For more information, visit audemarspiguet.com.


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Omega Unveils De Ville Trésor Hand-Wind

Small Seconds or Power Reserve.

Inspired by a mid-century gentleman’s watches, the Trésor is a newish sub-collection of Omega’s longstanding De Ville line. Just announced alongside the new Seamaster 300, the latest addition to the range is the De Ville Trésor Small Seconds, the most pared-back version to date. Also new is the slightly more complicated, but equally elegant, De Ville Trésor Power Reserve.

Tresor Small Seconds (left) in Sedna gold, and Tresor Power Reserve in yellow gold

Initial thoughts

The new Trésor is unique in Omega’s catalogue for its movement and dial. It’s one of the very few Omega watches without a rotor, with the other more famous model that’s also hand wind being the Speedmaster Moonwatch. The manual-wind movement is apt, feeling at home on a dress watch and well suited for its vintage-inspired style of the Trésor.

The cal. 8927 in the Small Seconds

The new models illustrate the improving design of the Trésor line up, at least for watch enthusiasts who appreciate traditional design. The model range started with a format familiar for Omega – centre seconds and the date at six – but the new Trésor is focused, with all superfluous functions removed. Also gone is the patterned dial, giving the watch a cleaner appearance. With its simpler aesthetic, the new models gain a stronger identity, differentiating the Trésor from the rest of the catalogue, and even its fellow De Ville watches.

Though the new design is progress, it’s still not perfect, yet. The design and construction are somewhat bland. The indices, for example, are simple batons that lack the interesting details found in vintage models. No doubt the dial appeals to minimalists, but more flair in the design, done subtly of course, would make the watch more interesting.

The price starts from US$16,900 for the Small Seconds, and rises to US$17,500 for the Power Reserve. That’s within the ballpark for similar watches from the likes of Jaeger-LeCoultre, but it is still expensive, especially for Omega, which still does best with more affordable watches.

However, compared to its competitors, Omega wins in terms of technology, and consequently timekeeping stability and magnetic resistance, as both models are outfitted with Co-Axial Master Chronometer movements. That said, Omega will soon introduce steel versions that cost half as much, so stay tuned.

Small Seconds

Unlike a centre seconds, the small seconds immediately gives away the size of the movement relative to the case. In this instance, the cal. 8927 appears to fit the 40 mm case reasonably well – though not as perfectly as on most vintage watches – as the seconds sub-dial doesn’t sit too close to the centre.

Red-on-red was used for the Tresor 125th anniversary edition, but that was fired enamel; here it’s simply lacquer

The case takes on a simple form that’s polished all around, a simple but effective finish for this style of watch. The polished finish gives the watch a more formal look and highlights the curves of the case, but is not overwhelmingly shiny as the case is only 10.07 mm thick.

Power Reserve

Identical to the Small Seconds but with a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock, sitting directly above the barrel, this is the more interesting version of the pair. The two sub-dials are symmetrical, giving the dial the look of a regulator display. As a result, the Omega logo is moved from 12 to three, balancing the lettering at nine o’clock.

Key facts and price

Omega De Ville Trésor Small Seconds
Ref. 453.

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 10.07 mm
Material: 18k Sedna gold
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 8927
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Winding: Hand-wind
Frequency: 25,200 beats per hour (3.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Leather strap with pin buckle

Availability: Starting September 2021 at Omega boutiques and retailers
Price: US$16,900, or 24,150 Singapore dollars

Omega De Ville Trésor Power Reserve
Ref. 453.

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 10.07 mm
Material: 18k yellow gold
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 8935
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and power reserve indicator
Winding: Hand-wind
Frequency: 25,200 beats per hour (3.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Leather strap with pin buckle

Availability: Starting September 2021 at Omega boutiques and retailers
Price: US$17,500, or 25,000 Singapore dollars

For more, visit omegawatches.com.


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