Stunning, exceptional and very rare, are some of the words that come to mind when thinking about what we think is the perfect tourbillon for daily wear. The first Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon was released in 1992 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak and in 2012 the Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon was released to celebrate the Royal Oak's 40th birthday. Today, there are seven references of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon which include a stainless steel with blue dial, a stainless steel with black dial, an 18K rose gold with blue dial, an 18K yellow gold with blue dial, a 40-piece limited edition openworked in platinum and two references in platinum, one with satin brushed bezel and the other with a diamond set bezel with 32 baguette-cut diamonds totaling 3.04 carats.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon ref. 26510PT.OO.1220PT.01 we are reviewing here was originally released in 2016 and it was one of those watches that very few got to see in the metal —we did bring you our images of it here. This hands-on review of the impressive platinum Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon ref. 26150PT should be a fun one since this is a grail of all grails.
The Dial & Case
The Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon —one millimeter bigger than its Royal Oak Tourbillon predecessors— is fitted with a 41 mm 950 platinum case with a mere thickness of 8.85 mm. Maintaining all the design cues that made the Royal Oak an icon, this tourbillon is also 50-meter water resistant. Featuring a gorgeous 'fumé' grey dial with applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating, the tourbillon at 6 o'clock takes the center stage. The 'petite tapisserie' on this dial features a interesting smoky effect that appears lighter at the center of the dial and darker towards the edges.
Audemars Piguet crafts the 'tapisserie' motif on antique 'rose-engine' machines according to the arabesque-making technique. This rare manufacturing process, which Audemars Piguet is proud to master and use, lends the Royal Oak dials a unique brilliance and unmistakable appearance. An operation that takes over an hour to perform, the guilloché work on the dial features an interwoven pattern of peaks and troughs which catch the light and underline the geometric profile of the watch.
The Case & Crown
Fitted with a 41 mm case, this watch wears completely different to the regular 41 mm Royal Oak ref. 15400 or even the Royal Oak Perpetual ref. 26574 due to its extra-thin case profile. The Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon is only 0.75 mm thicker than the Royal Oak Extra-Thin. This watch like all other Royal Oaks, features the unmistakable AP marked hexagonal crown. Its sapphire crystal treated with an anti-reflective coating on both sides allows for perfect legibility of the dial when exposed to unwanted glare.
Fitted with a super heavy platinum bracelet finished with alternating satin brushed finishes along with mirror polished bevels and edges, the platinum Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon is much heavier than its counterpart in 18K gold. With a total weight of 309.5 grams, this watch is actually almost 70 grams —2.5 ounces— heavier. To give you a better idea of the weight of this watch, as a reference the Royal Oak Offshore Rubber Clad in 18K rose gold weighs 225.1 grams and the Royal Oak Offshore Platinum ref. 26470PT that we reviewed here weighs almost a full pound at 431.9 grams.
Much like a supple joint, the bracelet is made up of a juxtaposition of small parts graduated by decreasing size. An exemplary configuration and the ideal model to hold the case firmly in place while providing complete freedom for wrist movements. The sophisticated construction of the Royal Oak bracelet uses parts that are all different in size. Arranged in diminishing order so as not to weight down the watch, they are graduated into seven different sizes, alternating bracelet links and connecting studs. Each of these parts, is meticulously machined, pierced, polished and checked in order to fit together perfectly with no gaps or unevenness.
After trimming, polishing and brushing, the links are initially assembled in their definitive order. Another operation transforms this 'staircase', achieved by the gradually diminishing length of the parts, into a double symmetrical curve. The intermediate studs are then placed and the assembly shanks are driven in before soldered at the tips. The soldered tips are perfectly invisible on the edges of the bracelet. Then come the screwed extension pieces. The tips of the shanks are pre-cut before the final cutting which makes them invisible. Assembled at last, the bracelet is fitted with a folding clasp made up of ten parts before undergoing the final hand-crafted operations of polishing the bevels and the intermediate studs, satin-brushing the sides and the faces of the links.
The display case back allows for full view of the amazing manual wound Audemars Piguet calibre 2924. This exquisitely finished in-house movement features 25-jewels and is composed of 216 parts. While beating at a frequency of 21,600 vph it provides a power reserve of 70 hours when fully wound. The movement features an extra flat tourbillon cage where the tourbillon makes a full rotation every 60 seconds and a differential power reserve with indicator on the back side of the calibre next to the barrel.
On the Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon Platinum ref. 26510PT wears slightly smaller than its actual size and more like a 40 mm watch for those of you with a 7.25" wrist. Without a doubt, this is one of the most exquisite watches out there and a true grail for AP lovers. The overall design and craftsmanship of this tourbillon make it a perfect daily wearer with a somewhat sporty yet very elegant look.
Sticker Price $220,500 USD. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.