Amongst the wave of new Royal Oaks just unveiled by Audemars Piguet (AP) is a new “Concept”, the Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT. Historically a platform to showcase novel materials and aggressive design, the new Royal Oak Concept (ROC) continues down that route – but more notably contains an all-new and cleverly-constructed rattrapante chronograph movement with automatic winding.
Much like previous models in the ROC line, the new split-seconds chronograph is a bold statement with a chunky, aggressive case, albeit one refined to become more wearable, especially in light of its size – it is the most wearing Concept to date.
Paradoxically, the movement within the large-format case was clearly designed with thinness in mind. For a split-seconds chronograph with a big date, second time zone, and automatic winding, the movement measures a modest 8.92 mm high, svelte by the standards of the complications mix.
And in contrast to the design (which brings to mind the Richard Mille RM 11), the movement is unusually refined and clever. An example of is the rotor that’s supported by a large central hub, which provides enough space in the middle to house the entire split-seconds mechanism. This serves to both reduce thickness, while simultaneously offering a view of the rattrapante mechanism without being obstructed by the rotor.
As with most of its counterparts in the collection, the new ROC has a geometrically-shaped titanium case defined by sharp facets and broad flanks. The form is distinct and the only similarity to the original Royal Oak is the octagonal bezel, but here amplified by enlarged hexagonal nuts.
An subtlety in the design is the curved case and bezel, a detail that aids ergonomic comfort. The arched case allows it to sit well on the wrist, enhancing wearability to a surprising degree considering the (very) large dimensions of 43 mm by 17.4 mm.
With the movement being the highlight, the dial shows it off. Like the case, the dial is aggressively styled with geometric open working. The dial plate is actually a single piece of German silver that’s skeletonised, sandblasted, and coated black, while the bevels along the edges are polished and rhodium plated for contrast.
The big date is visible through the movement bridges at 12 o’clock. Meanwhile, the GMT function is located on the sub-dial at three and can be advanced in one-hour steps via the coaxial pusher integrated into the crown.
A solid base
Powering the ROC Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT is the cal. 4407 that’s based on the cal. 4401 that underpins most of AP’s chronograph offerings.
The base movement is 6.8 mm thick and addition of a big date, GMT and rattrapante function only increases the height to 8.92 mm – an achievement in slim construction. Without the big date and GMT, the movement will fit into thinner watches, which we will see in the future no doubt.
Despite everything, the movement diameter is unchanged from the base version at just 32 mm. The base chronograph movement was designed from the outset to incorporate a robust flyback mechanism, featuring a myriad levers to facilitate the feature. It also has an automatic-winding mechanism on the back, which contributes to its thickness.
The cal. 4407 however, widens the rotor hub to accommodate the rattrapante mechanism. As a result, the rattrapante wheel, and pincers are visible in the centre of the movement without being obstructed by the rotor at all. This optimised rattrapante is also incorporated in the Code 11.59 Universelle that also just made its debut.
Key facts and price
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT
Ref. 26650TI.OO.D013CA.01 (titanium)
Diameter: 43 mm
Height: 17.4 mm
Water resistance: 50 m
Movement: Cal. 4407
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, GMT, big date, flyback chronograph, split seconds
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 70 hours
Strap: Rubber strap with titanium folding clasp
Limited edition: No
Availability: At AP boutiques and AP Houses
Price: CHF170,000 before taxes
For more, visit Audemarspiguet.com.
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