Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon extra-thin

In the early 1970s, Audemars Piguet introduced a watch that would forever unite the worlds of luxury and sport. Now, almost 50 years later, the brand continues to find innovative and intriguing ways to reinvent the Royal Oak, ensuring it remains one of the most sought-after watch collections in the world. This year, Audemars Piguet has done it again, introducing a very special limited-edition model. It wasn’t accompanied by the usual fanfare, however, so this one may have slipped right under your radar. Luckily, we were able to get our hands on the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin Black Ceramic ref. 26522CE. Here’s everything you need to know.
If this new model looks somewhat familiar it’s because this is the second all-ceramic watch to come from Audemars Piguet. Preceding this model was the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Black Ceramic, easily one of the most talked about watches of 2017. As with that watch, the new Royal Oak Extra-Thin Black Ceramic boasts both a case and bracelet made entirely from ceramic (with the exception of the caseback, which is in titanium).
With the first model, Audemars Piguet set itself the almost impossible task of finishing its ceramic case and bracelet to the same standard as that of a steel Royal Oak. Achieving this required over 600 hours of R&D, and the finishing of the bracelet alone requires 30 hours. That’s about five times longer than for the steel version. The Royal Oak bracelet is legendary, and when you hold this piece in your hand, or better still, put it on your wrist, you appreciate every single minute spent in the pursuit of perfection.
Measuring just 9mm thick, the 41mm case sits very comfortably on the wrist. As you might expect, it’s super light thanks to the use of ceramic. It’s also very eye-catching. All-black watches are generally known for being a bit more understated. “Stealth-like” if you will. Not so here; wear this watch out and everyone will be staring at your wrist. Of course, that may have something to do with the dial…
If you recall, Audemars Piguet replica watch introduced a new dial pattern to the Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon collection last year (along with a bold new purple colour too). Called “Tapisserie Evolutive”, the signature “Tapisserie” guilloché pattern was reimagined as a sunburst motif that radiates outwards from the tourbillion.
The effect is quite strong but is toned down here somewhat by the decision to use a black dial. I imagine it would have been quite a different story if Audemars Piguet had opted to use the purple/plum colour shown last year (although part of me thinks that would be cool to see).
White gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating are the only other embellishments on the dial. Aside from the ultra-thin tourbillon at six o’clock of course, which is superbly decorated. The overall look is sleek and sophisticated, yet still with that hint of sportiness the Royal Oak is known and loved for.
Inside is the hand-wound Calibre 2924, which measures just 4.46mm thick. It’s the same in-house movement used in the other Royal Oak Extra-Thin Tourbillon models and oscillates at 21,600 v/ph. When fully wound, it offers a max power reserve of 70 hours, the remainder of which is shown on the power reserve indicator on the rear of the movement. Visible through a sapphire window in the titanium caseback, this movement is a prime example of why AP is so good at what it does.
Following last year’s changes, the architecture of the bridges has been modified to offer a better view of the moving parts beneath and the Geneva Stripes take on more of a radiating sunburst pattern (known as côtes rayonnantes), emulating that of the dial. Lastly, the movement is finished with a dark grey galvanic treatment, in keeping with the dark theme of the overall watch
The other model is 41mm wide and is the tourbillon version called the Audemars Piguet Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak Tourbillon 40th Anniversary Limited Edition. Geez these names are long. In this watch is the in-house made (and skeletonized) Calibre 2924 manually wound movement with a 70 hour power reserve.
Introduced in 2012, the original Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin marked the Royal Oak’s 40th anniversary and was originally available only in platinum, followed by the launch of a yellow gold version in 2016. With a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, and split-seconds chronograph, this watch is as badass as it gets.