In 2015, Audemars Piguet unveils a watch that is potentially the most sonically considered minute repeater of modern times : the Royal Oak Concept RD#1.
The Royal Oak Concept RD#1 is inspired by the technological quality of minute repeaters created during the pinnacle of steel gong technology during the period from 1920-1930 – just before electricity became an everyday resource.
At this time, the Le Brassus watchmakers were not only considering mechanical progression but also the acoustic quality and range of chiming watches. Hence, this era has long intrigued the company’s in-house craftsmen, designers and archivists. In the process of ongoing research, they kept coming back to one piece in particular, a watch that begged the same question of each to ask: what made this 1924 minute repeater wristwatch sound so good?
The Royal Oak Concept RD#1 started with an in-house laboratory research programme at the Le Brassus Headquarter of Audemars Piguet eight years ago and developed into a collaboration with the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). The aim was to explore traditional chiming watch artistry that was naturally developed by watchmakers prior to the volume restrictions of water-proof casing.
A key objective of the programme was to rediscover the sounds of the time when waterproofing was not in progress : waterproofing is a major technical restriction when engineering minute repeaters today as the need for sealed cases muffles sound. One of the reasons watches from this period have such a beautifully considered tone is because they are not water-resistant. The sound, unrestricted is bright and clear. While researching Royal Oak Concept RD#1, the programme participants developed methods that heighten the volume in a sealed watch but that crucially, did not compromise tone and harmony. The Acoustic Research –Episode 1 awakens sound.
Several key rules were devised during the RD#1 research process in an attempt to get as close to the high-quality sounds of antique watches and to further understand the acoustic rules of the human ear. Also considered was the intelligibility of sound, the meaning that we give to sound, why certain sounds are heard and others not.
The RD#1 is a significant development in Audemars Piguet’s rich history of creating unique concepts. In 2015, the Le Brassus Manufacture has fully explored the potential of chiming sound, while never losing sight of the natural pleasure we derive from listening to it.
The watch is not for retail sale.
Hand-wound Manufacture Calibre 2874SS
Total diameter 29.90 mm (13 ¼ lines)
Total thickness 8.05 mm
Number of jewels 38
Number of parts 470
Minimal guaranteed power reserve 40 h
Frequency of balance wheel 3 Hz (= 21,600 vibrations/hour)
Titanium case and caseback, glareproofed sapphire crystal glass, titanium and ceramic screw-locked crown and pushpieces, titanium pushpiece guards,
water-resistant to 20 m.
Black dial, openworked, satin-brushed, black counters, white gold hands with luminescent coating, black inner bezel with seconds indication.
Black rubber strap with titanium AP folding clasp.
Chronograph with central sweep-seconds hand