Audemars Piguet introduces the latest men’s watches at SIHH

Hershey Pascual   |   22 - 01 - 2017

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Audemars Piguet has been crafting exceptional chronograph wristwatches with creatively designed dials for well over 80 years. In 2017, the very first Royal Oak Chronograph wristwatch is celebrating its 20th anniversary as it was first introduced in 1997.

This year’s new range of chronographs harks back to a much-loved look first seen in 2008. Just like the vintage examples from the 1930s – 1960s, the dials of the Royal Oak Chronograph have always been thoughtfully designed. All seven models in the new series feature a fresh, two-tone dial design with several new yet subtle details: chronograph counters of increased size that expand at 9 o-clock and 3 o’clock, shorter but wider hour-markers, additional luminescent coating for a better readability of the hour and new typeset and transfers. The date window, meanwhile, has been re-located between the four and five o’clock positions.

These design details are showcased in a wide combination of finishes, led by four versions in pink gold which are available on a matching, pink gold bracelet or an alligator strap and with a choice of brown or blue ‘Grande Tapisserie’ dials. The steel versions of the watch are offered with a choice of “Grande Tapisserie” dials in black, silver or blue and are fitted with stainless steel bracelets.

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When the original Royal Oak first appeared in 1972, it was notable for several reasons – it was the world’s first luxury sports watch; it was imposing, yet impressively thin; and, despite being the most expensive watch of its type on the market, it was available only in stainless steel. That changed in 1977 when the first yellow gold 39 mm Royal Oak became available, bringing a whole new character to what would soon be regarded as an iconic design.

In 2016, classic yellow gold returned to Audemars Piguet’s product portfolio and was presented in a select group of Royal Oak models. Today, to mark the 40th anniversary of the first precious metal Royal Oaks, Audemars Piguet has created a new series of Extra-Thin versions in yellow gold.

The 18-carat yellow gold “Jumbo” is available with two distinct “Petite Tapisserie” dials – classic blue or vintage-inspired champagne – both of which evoke a delightful 1970s aesthetic while offering the very latest in fit, finish, accuracy and reliability. These pieces pay tribute to the original Royal Oak model, embodying the distinctive features and extensive finishing techniques that define the world’s first luxury sports watch. 

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Following the success of the 2016 launch of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph in a range of fizzing bright and vibrant dial colours, Audemars Piguet now introduces the non-chronograph model in similarly exciting hues. Available in white, dark blue, acid yellow, lime green and bright orange, the new Royal Oak Offshore Diver models are fitted with rubber straps in matching colours and an additional blue rubber strap for each version.

The watch features a 42mm stainless steel case with glare-proof sapphire crystal and caseback, and blue screw-locked crowns. Like all Audemars Piguet Diver watches, the funky colour editions are water-resistant to 300m, and feature a rotating inner bezel with diving scale and zone from 60 to 15 minutes.  The “Mega Tapisserie” dials feature white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating for great visibility in or out of the water.

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In 1955, Audemars Piguet introduced a world first – a perpetual calendar wristwatch with the essential leap year indication, made in only nine examples, all in 18 carat yellow gold. Since then Audemars Piguet has launched many more perpetual calendar wristwatches. 

Today, Audemars Piguet enriches its line of Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars with a full black version, made of hand-finished black ceramic. Day, date, month, astronomical moon, week of the year displayed on the dial’s outer chapter ring and the essential leap year indication hold pride of place on the “Grande Tapisserie” decorated dial. The virtually unscratchable, black ceramic withstands high temperatures and thermal shocks, and is consequently extremely resistant to ageing. 

Audemars Piguet’s specialists required more than 600 hours of research to develop this new wristwatch: whereas it takes six hours to machine, polish, hand-finish, assemble and control a stainless steel Royal Oak bracelet, it takes thirty hours to accomplish these exact same procedures for the black ceramic bracelet…5 times longer!

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Openworking — also known as skeletonisation — involves cutting away material to reveal the mechanical artistry contained within. It is among the most exacting performances in watchmaking: cutting too much can jeopardise tolerances or affect shock resistance. Achieving the right balance between the beauty of the revealed components and the safeguarding of their performance’s precision is a rare art.

Audemars Piguet has been a master of this intricate process since the 1930s. Today, it performs it in precisely the same manner: filing, decoration and finishing exclusively done by hand. The reasons for this are both aesthetic and technical. For example, a milling machine produces perfectly acceptable rounded angles, but it cannot produce the perfect interior angles (or v-cut angles) that so superlatively reflect light, expressing the artistry of Haute Horlogerie.

Demand from connoisseurs around the world has led to the creation of two new limited edition versions in 2017 – one in brushed 18-carat pink gold with matching bracelet, the other in stainless steel. The pink gold model (available in 50 examples) features a pink gold main plate and bridges, while the movement of the steel version (available in 100 examples) is rhodium plated in cool, understated tones.