Just as we were all recovering from our long Fourth of July weekend here in the States, Audemars Piguet lit off fireworks from Le Brassus, Switzerland, dropping a whole mess of watches in its Women Novelties collection – but don’t call them women’s watches.
The releases are plenty, in all manner of sizes and materials, so let’s cut the small talk and have a look.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 34mm in Black Ceramic
I think it best to start with the heavy-hitter. When news dropped of these releases, my eyes were immediately drawn to this watch. Black ceramic is certainly all the rage right now (here’s looking at you Tudor) so this release is very on-trend.
What we have is the traditional Royal Oak with its octagonal bezel, black “Grande Tapisserie” dial, and iconic bracelet, only it’s in ceramic. But that’s nothing new – AP has been hard at work in the ceramic game for some time now. You might remember the RO Perpetual Calendar released a few years back in full ceramic with a ceramic bracelet which Ben Clymer dubbed “the hottest watch of SIHH 2017.”
It’s the 34mm sizing that really makes this release interesting. We’ve heard it time and time again – ceramic is a notoriously difficult material, making it hard to fashion watch cases in smaller sizes. And yet, AP has managed to make it happen.
I would be interested to see how the all-black-everything aesthetic wears in the 34mm sizing. Blacked-out watches generally wear smaller than their diameter would suggest. If this was a 37mm watch – it might very well be the watch of the Summer – nay the year. But let’s not let that stop us from enjoying this one for awhile.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Open Worked
Rainbow Daytona, meet the latest rainbow ROs. Instead of releasing one watch into this collection, AP went ahead and dropped three – three different precious metal configurations of yellow, pink, and white gold, each with rainbow diamond bezels. There are two sizes presented in this release: 41mm and 37mm.
AP is calling this a new rainbow bezel. It’s set with 12 different types of multi-colored gemstones: Ruby, tsavorite, emerald, topaz, tanzanite, amethyst, and a host of different-colored sapphires.
In either size, the case and bracelet are presented in Frosted Gold. According to AP, this is achieved through a process where “tiny indentations are created on the gold surface with a diamond-tipped tool, giving a sparkle effect similar to that of precious stones, like ‘diamond dust.'” The Frosted Gold finish debuted in 2016 with the 40th Anniversary Audemars Piguet Ladies Royal Oak.
The dial gives way to the open-worked, in-house Calibre 3132, with its double balance wheel mechanism. You can actually view this from the front or back of the watch. That double balance mechanism, of course, also debuted in 2016 with the ref. 15407 (another openwork piece).
If Rolex’s success with rainbow models is any indication, I think these will be a massive hit. Both 37mm and 41mm represent sweet-spot sizes for a lot of people. This may be listed as a women’s novelty but it wouldn’t shock me to see a lot of men rocking these.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold 34mm
Here we have more Frosted Gold – only more icy. This new Royal Oak Frosted Gold model is being released in a 34mm sizing, just like the ceramic model.
Along with the case, the dial is the star here, presented in AP’s newly introduced light blue PVD-coated dial complete with the classic “Grande Tapisserie” pattern.
It’s powered by the self-winding Calibre 5800, featuring 50 hours of power reserve.
I truly believe that 34mm is a very wearable size for both men and women today. If this release floats your boat, go for it.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding Chronograph 38mm in Pink Gold
While rainbow gems are all the rage, don’t sleep on this one – a 38mm Royal Oak Chrono, in pink gold, with purple dial and a bezel set with 32 baguette-cut amethysts (that’s a lot of amethysts).
The dial here is something altogether new for AP. It’s being called a chameleon dial because of its new color treatment that consists of applying multiple layers of purple PVD to the dial surface. As a result, what looks to be a standard purple dial has tones ranging from pink to purple, and even some shades of blue, depending on the angle of the watch in the light.
It’s worth mentioning that the 38mm RO chrono still uses the Frederic Piguet caliber 1185, although the caliber 4401 from the Code 11.59 collection has recently been introduced in a Royal Oak chrono, as well, albeit in a larger 41mm model – the new ref. 26239.
I would love to check this one out in the metal, if for no other reason than to hold this chameleon dial into the sun and watch its colors change – also to see the many … many amethysts.