The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked was first revealed in 2016 with the stainless steel model. It quickly became an icon within the Royal Oak collection, for its unique skeleton dial, superb finishing and clever technical achievement. Here is our hands-on review of the new Black Ceramic version.
Retail of the REF. #15416CE.OO.1225CE.01 is SGD 117200 / USD 84,300. This is a premium over the REF. #15407ST.OO.1220ST.0 in a steel case, which retails for SGD 80,400 / USD 57,900. SGD is with Singapore GST, USD is before taxes.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openwork in Black Ceramic
The latest iteration of the Double Balance Wheel Openworked now comes in a full ceramic case and bracelet.
The Case and Dial
The watch bears the same specifications as its predecessor. Sized at 41 mm in diameter and 9.7 mm in height, the watch is reasonably proportioned. Considering the additional lug width from the integrated bracelet design, the watch will still fit well on most average sized wrists.
That said, it is not a watch for the average joe. A full ceramic case with bracelet has mainly been used by the brand on higher complication models within the Royal Oak line. Namely, the Tourbillon Extra-Thin and the Perpetual Calendar.
Ceramic is understandably harder to work with and more difficult to finish. A full bracelet takes approximately 30 hours to finish.
Its benefits as compared to steel is its reflectiveness, lightness and scratch resistance. Top that up with rarity and now the watch retails at US$25k more than the steel model which is priced US$57,900 before taxes. That said, as with most Royal Oak models, the openwork is highly sought after and are usually only available at a sizable premium on the grey market and the black ceramic case and bracelet adds a rarity bonus.
The openworked dial is a classic showcase of fine movement hand finishing and design. The plates and bridges are cut out and polished along the bevelled edges. Gunmetal or darkened steel makes up 80% of the dial, with a contrasting pink gold balance bridge, barrel and hands. The hour markers are put at the periphery of the dial along with the minute markers, with additional visibility owing to its pink gold lume filled applied indices.
The Double Balance Wheel Openworked concept, is a mechanical innovation introduced to the Royal Oak collection in 2016. It replaced the Royal Oak Openworked Selfwinding calibre 3120 with a fully skeletonized version.
The Double Balance Wheel is designed to improve rate stability and by extension accuracy of the movement. Having a double spring increases precision. However, having two hairsprings on one balance is prone to error and maintenance, considering the difficulty to adjust and additional friction on the balance staff. (Moser however, successfully used two hairsprings with one balance.)
Audemars Piguet’s double balance method uses a balance staff carrying one balance and one hairspring on each side. This allows the watch to be regulated from both sides of the movement. Additionally, with an improved weight balance, there is lesser friction and leads to more stability.
The Calibre 3132 runs at a frequency of 3Hz with a power reserve of 45 hours.
It’s good looking, nicely finished, a Royal Oak, and likely unavailable in stores. As compared to the steel variant, the all black ceramic has a more stealthy look, and is certainly more different than the regular steel Royal Oak models. Whether it’s worth the premium is a moot point, considering how everything is so sought after regardless.
The watch is priced at US$84,300 excluding taxes.