Audemars Piguet has been courting women since it was founded in 1875, creating innovative mechanical watches that are often disguised as jewellery. These small and precious tickers allowed the watchmaker to quickly become an expert in the art of miniaturisation, a talent that led to it becoming one of the earliest adopters of the wristwatch.
Over the years and throughout different eras, the watchmaker has been at the forefront of ladies’ mechanical timepieces. From the feminine iteration of its iconic and radical Royal Oak (the antithesis to the classically styled watches from that period), to extravagant high jewellery models that blur the line between timepieces and high jewellery, these timepieces faithfully cater to the evolving tastes of women.
In 2018, it launched its first ladies’ Royal Oak Concept watch, presented in a 38.5 mm white gold case set in either brilliant-cut or invisibly set baguette-cut diamonds. Equipped with its new flying tourbillon, the watch represents the perfect marriage between haute joaillerie and haute horlogerie.
Inspired by the wintry landscape of the Vallée de Joux, Audemars Piguet’s birthplace, each watch features a skeletonised dial adorned with diamond-set “icicles” and white lacquered decorations. But that’s not all: twirling gracefully at 6 o’clock is the newly developed flying tourbillon, which has also been adorned with diamonds. One can also admire the openworked barrel of the hand-wound Calibre 2951 at 11 o’clock that takes the form of a snowflake.
Today, this evocative design adds six dazzling new variants in white or pink gold that shine with the opulence of graded coloured gemstones and diamonds. Each one offers a surprising and variegated play of light and is a shining example of the balance between traditional watchmaking techniques and contemporary design.
Adorned with both brilliant and baguette-cut gemstones, there are four models set with graded blue sapphires and two with multicoloured gemstones, creating a rainbow effect that is all the rage now. Some 12 different types of gemstones were used for the rainbow models, including rubies, tsavorites, emeralds, topaz, tanzanites, amethysts and various coloured sapphires that have been painstakingly selected for their vivid hues and gradated effect. This careful colour play highlights the geometry of the case and bezel, while at the same time illuminating its silhouette with a beautiful iridescence.
In the two models adorned with some 208 baguette-cut sapphires, a jaw-dropping 144 different sizes of sapphires were selected to match the curves of the Royal Oak Concept case and the architecture of the dial and movement components. A master jeweller then made tiny and precise cuts on each stone before carefully lining them up on a hidden rail – a feat that demanded some 150 hours of work. Ensuring that the colours blend seamlessly to create an ombre effect was also a test in patience and experience – each stone had to be eye clean, perfectly symmetrical and aligned to achieve a smooth gradation between the blue hues.
So what will it be? The four ice blue models reminiscent of fallen crystalline snow or the two that radiate with the colours of the rainbow?