Audemars Piguet turned to an unorthodox material for its latest striking timepiece, the Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie in black ceramic. Introduced in two variations, one with white gold markers and the other with baguette-diamond indices, the monochromatic new reference is the next step in this historic brand’s long history of chiming watches.
Overall, this is an excellent update to a watch that was already very good. The original Royal Oak Supersonnerie is entirely in titanium, a lightweight metal with good acoustic qualities, and has very subtle aesthetics with a smoked grey dial. In contrast, the new all-black ceramic repeater feels more modern and in-line with what we have come to expect from Audemars Piguet, especially for the Royal Oak that has always been available in unconventional materials ranging from carbon composite to BMG.
The inherent contradiction of an extremely expensive striking watch in a material not usually suited for transmitting sound is obvious. Yet it is also logical since it demonstrates the function of the brand’s proprietary Supersonnerie amplifying system that arguably transcends the case material.
The titanium Supersonnie strikes loud and clear, but we have yet to hear the ceramic repeater strike in real life. It would certainly be interesting to have them both side-by-side to compare.
While the brand already has several Royal Oak models with bracelets in ceramic, the new repeater is debuted only on a rubber strap. It gives the watch a more sporty and casual feel, doubling down on the wonderful contradiction that blends high horology and contemporary, sporty aesthetics.
No comment has yet been made from the brand as to how many of these are going to be made and the price is available only upon request, but it would be at least US$350,000.
The new take on the Royal Oak Supersonnerie transforms it into an all-black affair. It is available in two guises: both have the same black tapisserie dial, but one has traditional white gold baton markers and the other is discreetly decorated with baguette-cut diamond indices.
The 42 mm by 14 mm case is constructed entirely out of black ceramic, including the case back. The standout feature is of course the Supersonnerie case that allows the case to become an excellent transmitter of sound, despite ceramic not being an ideal material for that.
We go into a deeper explanation of the Supersonnerie in an earlier article, but in brief, the Supersonnerie improves the repeater sound primarily through the case construction. The gongs are attached to a titanium sound board instead of the base plate. This sound board resonates with the gongs, increasing the volume of the chimes, which is then transmitted through the holes in the outer case back. Pair this with the near silent fly-wheel governor and result is clear and audible chimes.
As the Supersonnerie is centred on the case construction, the movement remains similar to earlier generations of AP repeaters. The cal. 2953 is based the cal. 2937 found in the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie from 2015, which in turn is based on a movement developed in the 1990s, but since upgraded with features like a 72 hour power reserve.
Although it has the same dimensions as the titanium model that was rated to 30 m, this has slightly decreased water resistance of 20 m, likely due to the case construction constraints imposed by the nature of ceramic. Still, 20 m is more than that of most classical minute repeaters that are not water resistant at all.
Key facts and price
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie
Ref. 26591CE.OO.D002CA.01 (white gold markers)
Ref.26591CE.OO.D002CA.02 (diamond markers)
Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 14 mm
Water resistance: 20 m
Movement: Cal. 2953
Functions: Hours, minutes and minute repeater
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hours (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours
Strap: Rubber with folding clasp
Limited edition: No
Availability: At AP Houses and boutiques
Price: Price on Request
For more information, visit Audemarspiguet.com.
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