The automatic Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 (ref. 15350ST.OO.D002CR.01) was officially presented a couple of weeks ago at the SIHH 2011 and immediately became a new icon of the Swiss brand. Just like it was done with the recently presented Piaget Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Ultra-Thin and the stunning De Bethune DB28 in titanium, the new Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 takes the idea of a skeletonized watch and, literally, turns it inside out.
The main idea behind the whole concept of skeletonization is to show off the inner workings of a mechanical movement. In most cases, especially when it comes to mass-produced ETA calibers that often look, well, like mass-produced calibers with tiny bits of metal cut off their chassis here and there, the result is underwhelming at best.
However, when the job is done by a brand that (1) uses a highly sophisticated in-house movement as a basis for the job and (2) can afford to hire highly-skilled artisan to polish-off what was done by extremely expensive CNC machinery, you get something resembling this beautiful AP Millenary.
I mean, the result is a beautifully crafted (in most cases, but not always) display, which is a real pleasure to admire, but (again, in most cases, but not always) a real pain to look at when all you need is to find out what time it is now.
From this perspective, Millenary’s signature off-centered main dial that takes less than half of the real estate of the huge 47 x 42 mm oval-shaped case, was the best candidate to make a skeleton watch. Allowing a good view at the key part of the AP Caliber 4101 -the carefully finished balance bridge-, the timekeeper’s face is both mesmerizing to look at and, at the same time, quite legible if you don’t mind the size of the whole contraption.
As you can see on the pictures, AP’s engineers reworked the automatic movement in such a way, that its regulating organ that comprises the balance, lever, and escapement is moved to the periphery of the caliber and, judging by the looks of it, is positioned right in the F1 focus of the oval.
It is anchored to the movement with a massive-looking bridge, which (like the rest of the 12 visible bridges) is decorated with horizontal Cotes de Geneva stripes.
The main hours and minutes display is done in two solid metal parts and, decorated with applied Roman numerals, is perfectly legible, although the leaf-shaped hands would look even better if they were not skeletonized, but simply covered with some Superluminova.
As usual for the brand, the result is a finely crafted, well-balanced and, let me admit that, highly desirable watch that can prove a huge success, if Audemars Piguet will manage to find the point of intersection of the supply and demand curves.
See also: Audemars Piguet Openworked Self-Winding Royal Oak (refs. 15305ST.OO.1220ST.01 & 15305OR.O0.D088CR.01)
Photos: Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 (ref. 15350ST.OO.D002CR.01) specification
Price: $24,500 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, AP Caliber 4101, 34 jewels, 253 components, 22-carat rose gold rotor, hand-built, in-house, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Power reserve: 60 hours
Case: Stainless steel or Rose gold
Dimensions: 47.00 mm x 42.00 mm
Case height: 13.00 mm
Hands: Rose gold or Steel
Water resistance: 20 meters
Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating