Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked in Black Ceramic Model 26585CE.OO.1225CE.01
Big name, for a big watch, although not literally given that the proportions are svelte at 41mm with a thickness of 9.9mm.
This is one of the most sought after pieces from Audemars Piguet and I think very fair to say one of the “unicorns” given that its complexity means low levels of production. This one is seriously special.
First released in 2019 it packs both AP’s top notch openwork skills and their perpetual calendar complication into a single sleek and scratch resistant piece.
Its a package capable of blowing anyone away whether they’re into watches or not.
The first of many things to notice is surprisingly not the weight, which with the increasing use of ceramics is no longer like expecting a stone but feeling a feather but the light play across the case and bracelet.
I feel a bit like a Marks and Spencer advert when I say, this is not just ceramic, its Audemars Piguet ceramic.
AP’s aim has always been to finish their ceramic pieces to the same exacting standard as their steel or precious metal options so you have the same crisp lines, brushed angular and mirror polished edges which catch the light and almost glisten across a grey/black surface of a much harder material which is a lot trickier to work with.
To put into context a little, the finishing on the ceramic bracelet alone takes 30 hours of polishing work, its steel counterpart takes 6 so those stats alone should give some indication of the level of work that goes into producing these pieces.
This model sits typically well on the wrist and achieves the same “drape” as any other Royal Oak. Its also much warmer to the touch which takes some getting used to but at least in the middle of winter you’re not doing a baltic wince every time you first clamp cold steel round your wrist first thing in the morning.
Taking a look at the dial on this and it is an absolute masterstroke. Nowhere near as stealthy as the case and bracelet.
Being a perpetual calendar all of the information is there -
Month display at 12
Date display at 3
Moon phase which 6 and is made from dark blue Aventurine, a form of quartz regularly seen in watchmaking which when gives the appearance of a glittering night sky - a lovely touch
Days are taken care of at 9 with weeks running along the rehaut around the dial with a week pointer replacing the centre seconds.
The dial itself is a sapphire disk with indexes and wording printed in a crisp white text.
The scale areas around each sub-dial and indeed the overall dial are smoked sapphire to create contrast and legibility.
If you take a look at the day dial, for example, you can see the white text in relief against a much darker ring of sapphire. This makes at a glance reading so much easier.
The otherwise crystal clear sapphire allows you to look beyond the dial and into the open worked movement sitting beneath it while losing none of the information required of a perpetual calendar.
Its a real visual treat and something you could look at for days without losing interest. People often say they stare at their watches without noticing the time and to me, that is one of the hallmarks of top notch watch design.
Pink gold surrounds and lumed hands take care of legibility which is pretty good given the amount of information going on and the level of detail beneath and on the dial.
The movement finishing is superb both front and rear as expected with a high level of polishing and bevelling on the movement parts, all of which is done, of course, by hand with the front facing parts visible through the dial and the rear equally on display though the sapphire case-back. The pink gold rotor has been similarly openworked so as not to obstruct your viewing pleasure.
The movement is AP’s in house calibre 5135 which is a “Quantiem Perpetuel” (QP) meaning Perpetual Calendar and gives 40 hours of power reserve.
Being a perpetual calendar, if you plan on not wearing it for a while, its better to keep something like this on a winder as setting can be quite time consuming and nowhere near “grab and go” status.
Every gem has its downside, but the only drawback I can find on this piece is its 20m water resistance which loosely translates to “don’t get it wet”, but this is a fair price to pay given that the calendar is set using pushers set into the side of the case which would give any watch a weak point for water ingress, so a low WR rating on these pieces is entirely to be expected.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Carolina Bucci 77350CE.OO.1266CE.02
Since we’re spending this video drooling over AP ceramics, it would be rude not to dip into a little “his and hers” action and cast an eye over the AP Royal Oak Carolina Bucci Limited Edition.
Oh man, I wish it was a touch bigger.
This one is a slim 34mm size and destined as a treat for AP’s female fans, although if you’re on board the smaller watch train and slim waisted enough to pull it off then a) I’m envious and b) it is in my opinion one of the most spectacular Royal Oaks on the market, although there aren’t many about as this is a limited edition of 300 pieces.
We’ve already covered the hugely successful AP and Carolina Bucci collaborations when reviewing the Royal Oak “Frosted Gold” models.
Bucci is the fine jewellery designer responsible for the diamond tipped hammering method used to create the texture of glistening frost on AP’s gold pieces that have received the “Florentine technique” (named after her location in Italy) to achieve their texture.
This piece is her third design collab with AP and I genuinely cant wait to see more of them.
The dial on this is just insane. Its said to be inspired by city landscapes and Bucci has said of it -
“I wanted to place a rainbow in the most unexpected of places, a little like when you see oil floating on a puddle in a city street ... So here you have every colour of the spectrum on a canvas that is completely black, which is itself the absence of colour."
I would say that this aim has absolutely been achieved, although I seem to have ruined some of the thought and artistry behind it by regularly referring to it as “the Disco AP” as it reminds me of nightclub lights bouncing off a mirrorball.
As it turns out, i’ve well and truly dumbed it down and I apologise unreservedly for that.
JUST LOOK AT THIS DIAL!
It’s loosely based on AP’s signature tapisserie (waffle square) design but rather than being engraved in three dimensions it is a single flat plane of sapphire crystal containing a myriad of colour mounted to a brass base plate.
AP refers to the colour treatment as “micro structuring” which is their technical term for whatever alchemy this is.
The gloss of the sapphire takes care of light play and reflections which create waves of changing colour as you shift the dial in the light.
It is a truly phenomenal rainbow, but when set in an all black case such as the ceramic on display here, it retains just enough subtlety to pull it back from the edge of typical rainbow shoutyness and into the “if you know, you know” category of high end watches.
The case, is again an absolute work of ceramic art in much the same vein as its larger RO counterpart that we see in this video so im not going to cover older ground, apart from to say once again that ceramics are hard to work with as they are structurally and the finishing is once again top notch.
Pink gold hex bolts contrast really well with the case and add some visual interest to the bezel, same material for the lumed hands which are completely legible even with the disco going on beneath them.
The movement powering this one is visible through the Limited Edition Carolina Bucci engraved case-back is AP’s 28 jewel calibre 5800 which launched in 2020. It’s weekend proof with a power reserve of 50 hours and a date feature.
The watch is waterproof to 50 metres which means it can take a rinse under a slow running tap and stand up to some gentle water but we wouldn’t advise swimming or showering with it just to be on the safe side.
To close, this is an absolutely gorgeous watch aimed firmly (and heart breakingly) at women.
Its tough as nails, completely modern and showcases what I would rate as one of the nicest solid dials in the business. For a smaller wrist, this is the one.
My biggest gripe?
Size, but that’s just because 36mm is my minimum.