The 20 New Different Gemset Royal Oaks
Audemars Piguet recently released another set of rainbow watches. We are well into the last quarter of the 50th Anniversary of the Royal Oak, and it feels like Audemars Piguet is not showing any signs of slowing down. We all know that the CEO of Audemars Piguet, François-Henri Bennahmias, the one who made Audemars Piguet a billion dollar brand, is set to depart in 2023. However, he is not holding back.
The new addition to the already remarkable catalogue of Royal Oak watches is a stunning lineup of 20 Royal Oak selfwinding rainbow timepieces. Ten are available in 41 mm, and ten are available in 37 mm.
Every watch is fully set, from the dial to the bezel to the case to the bracelet, in tourmalines, tanzanites, rubies, emeralds, tsavorites, spessartites, and chrysoberyls. Unlike the typical rainbow watches, each watch in this lineup of 20 is arranged in a monochrome setting, such as the fully yellow chrysoberyl-set version to the one loaded with solid rubies.
The 10 41 mm watches are set with 861 stones (between 30 to 47 carats), while the 10 37 mm models are decorated with 790 stones (between 21 and 37 carats). What makes this feat even more remarkable is the fact that it is not easy to find so many stones of matching colour, quality, clarity, and size. This is proven by the fact that it took a whole year to overcome such a challenge. The gem setting on these watches was orchestrated by Pierre Salanitro, a long Audemars Piguet collaborator who is considered to be the master of this particular profession in Switzerland.
What makes setting the variation of stones even more difficult is that each watch had to be adjusted according to the type of watch being manufactured, the hardness of the stone, and other specifications according to the makeup of each type of stone. For the 41 mm watches, the baguette stones were cut in 179 different sizes; meanwhile, for the 37 mm versions, the baguette stones were cut in 153 different sizes, after which all the stones were hand polished.
To ensure that the gemstones covered as much area as possible, Audemars Piguet and Pierre Salanitro arranged them in such a setting that very little metal was revealed around the stones to make it look as if they were floating- on the dial and bracelet links. This arrangement technique is very common among jewellers and is known as the 'invisible setting'. To achieve such a setting, tiny grooves were cut into the 18k white gold cases, and the stones were attached inside with the help of hidden rails mounted in the metal. This is an incredibly difficult job, and only 10 out of 80 artisans at Pierre Salanitro's studio are able to complete this task successfully. The artisans worked for over a month and a half on achieving the setting alone for each set.
Powering up the 41 mm versions is a self-winding movement, the Calibre 4309. Meanwhile, another self-winding movement, the Calibre 5909 (based on the Calibre 5900) powers the 37 mm iterations. Just like the other 50th anniversary editions, we have seen this year, this lineup of 20 will also come with a 22k pink gold oscillating rotor which spells out '50 years'. The logo of Audemars Piguet and the 'Swiss Made' label are carefully and cautiously printed on the sapphire crystal caseback so that there is no interference with the gems.
Audemars Piguet are not stepping off the throttle this year, and we can see that with the constant releases of brilliantly crafted, expertly designed, and stunningly decorated watches. Let's see what CEO François-Henri Bennahmias has to offer before he departs in 2023, and what the last month of the 50th anniversary of Audemars Piguet has in store for us. We would expect some big changes when Bennahmias departs in 2023, and this basically means an end of an era for Audemars Piguet.