To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak Chronograph, Audemars Piguet just gave this reference its third facelift since its launch in 1997 and changed the reference number from 26320 to 26331. For these new Royal Oak Chronographs, Audemars Piguet has decided to enlarge the hour and minute chrono registers at 9 and 3 o'clock, reduce the size of the running seconds subdial at 6 o'clock, shorten and widen the hour-markers while adding more lume to them and update the typeface and transfers on the chronograph totalizers. While all these changes make the dial of the Royal Oak Chronograph more interesting, one thing we dislike is the proximity of the date aperture to the 5 o'clock marker. Additionally, we are still waiting to see Audemars Piguet release an in-house chronograph movement to power this reference, which by the way, this would've been the perfect time to do it.
Along with all these changes, Audemars Piguet has added eight new models to the Royal Oak Chronograph collection now under reference 26331 and one that stand out and that is one of our new favorites is the new Royal Oak Chronograph in Titanium and Platinum ref. 26331IP.OO.1220IP.01. Showcasing a combination of finishes, the new Royal Oak Chrono in Titanium and Platinum features a 41 mm titanium case with highly polished 950 platinum bezel and highly polished 950 platinum middle links on its bracelet.
The dial on this new reference is a slate grey dial with 'Grande Tapisserie' pattern, blue counters, white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating. The blue on the dial is a royal blue just a shade darker —almost not perceivable under certain lighting conditions— than the hue of blue that's been used by AP for the Royal Oak Chronograph ref. 26320ST. For those of you wondering, as far as we were told, all other dials from reference 26320ST will continue to be available until they get phased out.
The Bracelet & Case
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. For the bracelet on this new ref. 26331IP.OO.1220IP.01, Audemars Piguet has decided to add highly polished center links in 950 platinum to create a symphony of contrast and light refraction.
Because of the use of platinum on the bezel and on the bracelet's center links, the watch is actually slightly heavier —by 6 grams— than the stainless steel Royal Oak Chronograph, regardless of the use of titanium for its case on this new watch. Total weight on the new Royal Oak Chronograph Titanium and Platinum is 187.7 grams versus 180 grams on the stainless steel model.
Powering the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronographs ref. 26331 is the same calibre 2385 that powers all other Royal Oak Chronographs up to date. This movement is an automatic chronograph movement based off of the legendary Frederic Piguet calibre 1185 also used on the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph —as caliber 1137— and the Breguet Marine Chronograph —as calibre 576— amongst other timepieces. The movement is composed of 304 parts, beats at 21,600 vph, is fitted with 37 jewels and provides a power reserve of 40 hours when fully wound. Still wondering when an in-house chronograph movement will be developed by Audemars Piguet for their entry level models. The new ref. 26331IP is fitted with a solid case back like all other Royal Oak Chronos.
On the Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the new Royal Oak Chronograph ref. 26331IP.OO.1220IP.01 in titanium and platinum wears true to its size and slightly smaller than the Royal Oak ref. 15400 due to its thicker case. As a matter of fact the new ref. 26331 is 11 mm thick versus 10.8 mm for the ref. 26320 —not sure where the difference is coming from and AP could not elaborate on the matter. This new Royal Oak Chrono is boutique exclusive and one of our favorite new APs this year at the SIHH 2017.
Sticker Price $42,699 USD. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.