Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon 26530TI

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon 26530Ti which was launched in 2020. 

Im guessing if you’ve been here before you’re already well aware of AP’s Royal Oak line as it’s sitting in pride of place as one of the most iconic sports watches from a “Holy Trinity” brand. 

I’ve taken to doing a quick history rundown in one of every ten or so RO discussions, so I’m not repeating myself more than Macklemore in a Thrift Shop. Wut Wut Wut Wut. 

The Royal Oak is not a new design, its been around since 1972 so a new variant isn’t a first. 

What is a first though, is a flying tourbillon housed in the instantly recognisable flagship case. 

We’ve already seen this automatic movement, calibre 2950, used in AP’s Code 11:59 and, thankfully, it’s now its made its way into a trio of Royal Oaks. 

Rose gold with a smoked grey radiating tapisserie dial, titanium with blue radiating tapisserie dial, and this, with a gorgeous slate grey sandblast dial which we’ll get into later. 

Quick specs - 

Size - 41mm, 11.5mm thick, 

Grade 5 Titanium case and bracelet which is much lighter, comfier, and pricier than stainless steel.

Grade 5 is titanium alloyed with 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium which increases strength and durability over Grade 2 titanium which is purer but also more susceptible to heat and corrosion. 

Both of these grades are regularly used in titanium watchmaking with 5 appearing more as cost increases.

Slate sandblast dial 

65 hour power reserve

Automatic flying tourbillon 

This is probably a good time to get into what a tourbillon is all about and why its a word that tends to elicit a degree of excitement amongst watch nerds and worshippers of accuracy and engineering. 

A tourbillon is a rotating cage that houses a movements escapement, balance, and spring rather than these components being fixed inside a movement and operating on a set plane. 

The rotating cage allows the movement to run at the same rate in a variety of different vertical positions, if you adjust the flat positions to match, the tourbillon provides excellent timekeeping.

The tourbillon mechanism solves the issue of watches running at different rates in different positions as it shifts through all of them when in use, so if you regulate a tourbillon well, you’re regulating X number of positional variations at once which equals better timekeeping. 

The FLYING tourbillon ups this game as it has no upper bridge holding the cage which allows it to rotate freely in all positions a bit like a gyroscope. 

In short, a tourbillon rotates in 2 dimensions, a flying tourbillon is a three dimensional experience which improves yet again on timekeeping and accuracy. 

It also gives us some significant eye candy to boot and who doesn’t love that? 

Enough of the tech, and on to the watch. 

First of all, this dial is absolutely gorgeous. Rather than being tapisserie (AP’s version of the waffle dial with raised squares) this one has an altogether more sombre texture. 

Its a flat grey sandblast that has a matte appearance but still manages to capture some light play at different angles. It works incredibly well with the darker hue of titanium.

This is an infinitely less busy dial, but the lack of other things going on really draws your attention to the showstopper of the working tourbillon. It becomes almost industrial and machine-like rather than brimming with decoration. 

Less fancy, more schmancy.

This is something that I really appreciate, but others when choosing a Royal Oak may feel like the tapisserie is a hallmark of the overall design of the line. 

On this point, you do have the waffle inclusive option of steel or rose. 

Titanium and slate though, for me, is the winner of the combinations. 

With the double hash markers at 12, applied Audemars Piguet logo and “swiss made” featuring below the tourbillon its a clean and crisp dial execution. 

The titanium case and bracelet carries the same brushing and polished facets that we know and love of old, but in a darker and dare I say less “splashy” metal. 

AP tends to use titanium in some of their limited editions but ordinarily regular production Royal Oaks are released in steel as per the original. (Excluding gold and platinum of course) 

The bezel screws however, are white gold which works well being a darker metal and adds a lovely glint of polished contrast. 

The overall feeling of the watch on the wrist is one that will take some getting used to if you’ve mainly stuck to steel or precious metals. 

It’s lightweight and supremely comfortable, but don’t for one second fall into the trap of feeling like heaver = better or stronger, it doesn’t. 

Grade 5 is an incredibly hardy alloy, and one of the bonuses of titanium is that it is considered slightly “self healing”. 

This is not truly the case but titanium does have an interesting quirk that makes micro swirlies slightly less painful for the anally retentive. 

Over time it oxidises, not in the sense that it tarnishes or stains because it doesn’t, but a layer of oxidisation tends to form over titanium micro scratches which reduces the bright fresh metal “argh my eyes keep looking at this swirl” and ultimately blends marks back in with the case or bracelet making damage much less obvious. Camouflage almost. Never a bad thing on a regularly worn watch. 

Overall the AP titanium flying tourbillon absolutely oozes luxury finishing, while seeming more restrained and stealthy at the same time. 

I love the contrast of the restrained colour scheme and design mixed with a flying toubillon which, lets face it, is a flamboyant complication designed to be gawped at and admired. Its completely contradictory and we are well up for it. Its a work of monotone genius and is available right here at Official Watches.