Audemars Piguet has revealed its new Royal Oak Carbon Concept Tourbillon and Chronograph(Ref. 26265FO.OO.D002CR.01). Light as a Formula 1 car and sturdy as a Soviet tank, this is the first watch with both case and movement made of so-called “forged” carbon. Although the exterior of this timekeeper is a little bit too high tech to me, I must admit that, among all the recently introduced “sporty” chronographs, this one offers the most balanced combination of cutting-edge technologies and classic complications. If the Swiss Manufacture will ever decide to make a one-off version for some charity event, I am sure it will beat a record or two when it comes to the maximum price and a top number of bidders.
As AP cares to point out, the carbon fiber material in this particular case is not woven, burned down and then glued together, but is compressed in the presence of a special polymer at a temperature close to 240° and an impressive (or perhaps the word enormous would be more appropriate here) pressure of 7.5 tons per square centimeter!
The resulting material is lighter than titanium, but is harder than steel.
Its almost fantastic properties allowed the legendary Swiss brand to go beyond the usual carbon fiber dials and bezels and actually use the stuff to make parts of the hand-wound movement that powers the watch. And I am not talking about some unimportant elements: they actually employed the fiber to make the mainplate and bridges. Somewhat disappointingly, the main structural element of the caliber still seems to be crafted out of some metal (either aluminum or steel, AP wouldn’t tell), but for the very first, proof-of-concept mechanism the widespread use of forged carbon looks quite fascinating.
Of course, the list of used materials does not end there since this beautiful model also features movement parts made of forged carbon, the bezel, the crown and the pushpieces crafted in ceramics, a part of caseback made of PVD blacked titanium and central bridge from eloxed aluminum.
What is really interesting about this watch is its original 30-minute linear chronograph minute counter, which is coming courtesy of the Calibre 2895 hand-wound movement.
Beating at a rather slow (if not archaic) frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour (probably, to make it easier to achieve its almost 10 whole days of guaranteed power reserve), the mechanism still looks quite futuristic and is also very complex packing lots of neatly designed indicators into rather confined space of less than 34 millimeters in diameter (it is still quite thick though measuring more than 12 millimeters from top to bottom).
As you can see, the counter consists of a double vertical scale (tens of minutes from 1 to 2; minute units from 0 to 9).
The minutes in the chronograph mode are read off through dedicated openings on the counter bridge.
The elapsed time is indicated by these openings shifting from white to black.
Certainly, this piece of art requires some time to get used to it but when you do, you will have no problem reading the linear dial, I guess.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 3.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 3/5
Value for Money: n/a
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Photos: Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Carbon Concept Tourbillon and Chronograph specifications
AP Calibre 2895, hand-wound with tourbillon escapement
Total diameter: 15.33 lignes (34.60 mm)
Casing-diameter: 33.80 mm
Thickness: 12.01 mm
Power reserve: 237 hours
The cadence of the balance:
21,600 vibrations per hour
Finishing: hand-polished bevelling, sides hand-drawn with a file, matt surface, sapphire-blasted
Carbon mainplate, eloxed aluminum bridges
Caseback ring in black PVD-coated titanium
Diameter: 44.00 mm
Total thickness: 15.85 mm
Sapphire crystal back
Water-resistance: 100 meters
Integrated onto the movement
Graduated dial ring with luminescent hour-markers and white minute markers
Openworked luminescent hour and minute hands
Hand-sewn alligator leather with large square scales,
AP folding clasp in titanium
Hours and minutes
Linear chronograph minute counter with central sweep seconds hand