Audemars Piguet makes statement pieces and, much like other brands this year, they have been targeted at women, but in a unique, bold way. Enter the spectacular Diamond Outrage, a haute joaillerie sculpture in diamonds (9 923 brilliant cut and 354 baguette, to be precise), or diamonds combined with blue sapphires. Inspired by the snow-covered Vallée de Joux of the Jura Mountains, it’s “an explosion of stalactites on the wrist”. Audemars Piguet’s clever “snow” technique also means that the 18-karat white-gold settings almost disappear to maximise the dramatic effect. A dial smaller than a copper coin with a Calibre 2701 quartz movement is nestled among this lavish dusting of gems.
However spectacular this attention-grabber might be, it is the Royal Oak 40th anniversary celebration pieces, in particular the women’s Royal Oak Frosted Gold (pictured), that are my favourite Audemars Piguet releases at this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève. These include the Royal Oak Extra-Thin Jumbo, black ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, and Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin Openworked.
The iconic hexagonal design, created in collaboration with Florentine jeweller Carolina Bucci, has been merged with an ancient gold-hammering technique and is presented in white or pink gold, in 33mm and 37mm cases. The resulting finish, also known as the Florentine Technique, is achieved by beating the surface with a diamond-tipped nomadic tool, which vibrates at 200 Hertz (12 000 beats per minute). This creates tiny indents that sparkle like precious stones. Every surface that would normally be satin finished has been brought to life, its minute indentations neatly offset against the highly polished aspects of this timepiece, with its familiar grande tapisserie dial.
These new pieces have an impressive lineage. The first ladies Royal Oak was designed by Jacqueline Dimier five years after the world’s first luxury sports watch, Ref 5402, in stainless steel was conceived by the legendary Gérald Genta for Audemars Piguet in 1972. The prize piece has to be the 37mm frosted pink gold version with self-winding caliber 3120 movement at an elegant 4.26mm thick, transforming this sporty classic into a piece of jewellery perfect for someone with an active lifestyle.
Movement: Self-winding Calibre 3120Power reserve: 60 hoursCase: Hammered 18-karat pink- or white-gold case, glare-proof sapphire crystal and case backWater resistant: to 50mBracelet: Hammered 18-karat pink- or white-gold bracelet with Audemars Piguet folding claspPrice: Pink gold, from R680 000; white gold, from R750 000