The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is perhaps one of the most well-known watches available today, and unlike other watches of similar fame like the Omega Speedmaster or Rolex Submariner, its basic design also enjoys considerable versatility in terms of complications. From simple time-only variants to more complicated offerings, there are many flavors of Royal Oak available, and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked Material Good watch is one of the more elaborate examples.
As an aside, and maybe it’s just me, but it feels like brands really need to work on keeping watch names to a manageable length. Getting back to the watch at hand, this particular Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was developed in collaboration with Material Good – a New York-based luxury retailer. As the name clearly indicates, encased within the Gerald Genta-designed case is an openworked movement with a tourbillon and a chronograph complication.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph is powered by the caliber 2936, which is a hand-wound movement with a 72-hour power reserve. It is a traditional 2-counter 30-minute chronograph movement with a tourbillon at 6:00. The skeletonization is complex and elaborate, and effort has gone into the bridge design to make sure the final result looks visually interesting and balanced.
The bridge at 12:00, which holds the mainspring barrel, has an interesting arch-like design which complements the shape of the tourbillon cage on the opposite end. The bridges are in gold and polished to a brilliant finish and with plenty of chamfering. The movement is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback and being a hand-wound movement means that the chronograph mechanism is on full view.
What’s left of the “dial” is essentially a satin-brushed, ruthenium-toned ring around the edge and the two anthracite sub-dials. There is a rehaut printed with a minute chapter ring as well. In my experience, legibility is not the strongest suit for a skeletonized watch, but that is less of an issue in the case of this watch. The use of pink gold applied hour markers and pink gold baton-shaped hands, both filled with lume, should provide sufficient legibility in most lighting conditions. The “Audemars Piguet” logo is printed on the surface of the sapphire crystal on the front, which gives it a nice floating effect.
The sub-dials are simple with white printed text and white baton-shaped hands. The sub-dial at 3:00 indicates chronograph minutes and the one at 9:00 shows continuous seconds. One potential issue with legibility has to do with the chronograph seconds hand, which is black with a lumed white tip. Between how thin the seconds hand is and the color, reading the chronograph elapsed time may be more cumbersome than people may like. It is hard to say for certain until we get our hands on a physical example of the watch.
I’ve left the case and bracelet description for the last because these are some of the most recognizable aspects of the watch. This is the same Gerald Genta design that is so popular among many collectors but with 44mm by 13.2mm case dimensions. This is a fairly large watch with a wide bezel on both the front and back. All the straight lines and sharp angles also give it a larger appearance. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph is offered in two case materials – titanium and rose gold. There are the obvious visual differences in both materials but what I find more interesting is that titanium is generally a light material with high tensile strength, while gold is a dense but soft material. What this means is that the experience of wearing each variant should be significantly different, and I personally find this interesting.
While Audemars Piguet has received quite a bit of flak in the past for what some collectors perceive as milking the Royal Oak fame a little too much, I think the choice available within the range is a great thing. Not everyone can afford a tourbillon chronograph, and not everyone wants just a time-only watch. At least the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak collection offers both as well as many other choices, with broadly similar aesthetics. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked Material Good watch comes with a bracelet of the same material as the case and an additional alligator leather strap. It is available at Audemars Piguet boutiques and the Material Good store in NY for $297,000 for the pink gold version and $261,000 for the titanium version. audemarspiguet.com