Audemars Piguet presents a small series of six new AP Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon models in white or pink gold glittering with an array of graded colored gemstones and diamonds, each offering unexpected and variegated plays of light. Haute Horlogerie meets Haute Joaillerie in these complex timepieces blending traditional techniques with avant-garde design. With their unique characters and surprising contrasts, these multifaceted pieces will be true statements when worn on the wrist.
These six new timepieces are decorated with a variety of brilliant or baguette-cut gemstones. While four models are paved with graded blue sapphires, two feature multicolored gemstones creating a rainbow effect. Finding the right stones, colors and contrasts was a crucial step in the design of each piece and no easy task for timepieces set with as many as 468 brilliant or 208 baguette-cut graded gems.
The new Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon Gemset timepieces bring a colorful vibe to the collection. The dial of the new offering shimmers with faceted pyramids paved with blue sapphires, diamonds, or rainbow-colored gemstones, revealing part of the movement ticking within. The open-worked barrel of hand-wound Calibre 2951, visible at 11 o’clock, gives a rare glimpse at the coiled mainspring. The satin-finished bridges with polished angles and white lacquered decorations, visible in the background of the open-worked dial, can also be admired through the sapphire case back.
The flying tourbillon, which compensates for the effect of gravity and enhances the watch’s accuracy, makes its rotation at 6 o’clock. The tourbillon is set with brilliant-cut gemstones —an art in itself for such a small feather-light component. The original Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon was the first Audemars Piguet watch to be equipped with a flying tourbillon, along with the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT, paving the way for a new generation of complex timepieces blending ancestral expertise with bold aesthetics.
For the two rainbow models in 18K white gold measuring 38.5 mm in diameter, 12 different types of multicolored gemstones, including rubies, tsavorites, emeralds, topaz, tanzanites, amethysts, and various colored sapphires, have been meticulously chosen to offer vivid hues and a smooth gradation when combined. The progressing shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple also bring out the geometry of the case and bezel, reflecting light to create a unique optical experience akin to that of a rainbow. While the first model combines a diamond-set case and dial with a baguette-cut rainbow bezel, the other has been fully paved with brilliant-cut multicolored gemstones.
The diamonds and colored gemstones adorning the new models have been individually cut and polished to reach the desired shape and size before being set in gold by the hand of expert jewelers. The gem-setting of the dial represented an added challenge due to the diminutive size of the design and movement components.
The 18K white gold reference 26229BC.ZY.D326CR.01 is set with 357 brilliant-cut diamonds —totaling 2.81 carats— for the case, inner bezel, and buckle; 32 baguette-cut multicolored gemstones for the bezel; 62 brilliant-cut diamonds for the dial and 9 brilliant-cut diamonds for the tourbillon.
Meanwhile, the 18K white gold reference 26227BC.YY.D326CR.01 is set with 397 brilliant-cut multicolored gemstones —totaling 3.41 carats— for the case, bezel, inner bezel, and buckle; 62 brilliant-cut multicolored gemstones for the dial and 9 brilliant-cut blue sapphires for the tourbillon.
The other four pieces of the new Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon series, three available in 18K white gold and one in 18K pink gold, are covered with either 208 baguette-cut graded blue sapphires or brilliant-cut blue sapphires.
The sapphires have been cut in 144 different sizes to match the curves of the Royal Oak Concept case and the architecture of the dial and movement components. Tiny grooves are delicately incised in the stones, which are then meticulously snapped one by one into a hidden rail mounted in the gold component, giving the impression that they are holding on their own. The invisible gem-setting for each timepiece amounts to 150 hours of work.
The complexity also lies in reaching flawless alignment —a painstaking task requiring extreme precision. The quality of the gemstones’ cut is as important as their inherent quality and clarity. Each baguette not only needs to be eye-clean —no visible inclusion by the naked eye—, its lines and stepped facets have to be perfectly symmetrical and aligned. To this is added the challenge of reaching a smooth gradation between the blue hues. Once combined, the baguette-cut sapphires give a certain edge to the piece, while further enhancing the architectural movement’s 3D effect and play of light.
Measuring 38.5 mm in diameter the 18K white gold model with blue baguette-cut sapphires is reference 26227BC.SS.D314CR.01, while its 18K pink gold counterpart is reference 26228OR.SS.D314CR.01. The gemset work includes 182 baguette-cut graded blue sapphires —totaling 9.16 carats— for the case, bezel, inner bezel, and buckle; 26 baguette-cut blue sapphires for the dial and 9 brilliant-cut blue sapphires for the tourbillon.
The model with brilliant-cut blue sapphires on its case reference 26227BC.SS.D314CR.01 is set with 397 brilliant-cut graded blue sapphires —totaling 4.198 carats— for the case, bezel, inner bezel, and buckle; 62 brilliant-cut blue sapphires for the dial, and 9 brilliant-cut blue sapphires for the tourbillon.
A similar model reference 26227BC.SS.D326CR.01 is set with 320 brilliant-cut graded blue sapphires —totaling 3.414 carats— for the case, bezel, and buckle; 77 brilliant-cut diamonds for the inner bezel; 62 brilliant-cut diamonds for the dial, and 9 brilliant-cut diamonds for the tourbillon.
These six new watches are all delivered on hand-stitched large square-scale light blue alligator straps with gemset buckle matching the metal of the case and with an additional light blue rubber strap with ‘constellation’ decoration.
The four pieces set with brilliant-cut gemstones will be available in select Audemars Piguet points of sale as of October 2021. The two baguette-cut versions will arrive in 2022.