About a decade ago, Audemars Piguet who is best known for the Royal Oak which is also probably one of the most iconic luxury sports watches to have ever been conceived, had purchased a managing interest in a small movement shop we know as Renaud Et Papi. Leading the charge of the Audemars Piguet Renaud Et Papi atelier is none other than my Guilio Papi, a hardcore mad scientist like genius who not only pushes the technical and aesthetic boundaries of movement design, but has certainly etched a permanent place in being one of the greatest.
Although Renaud et Papi designed and manufactured movements have made their way inside watches from brands like Richard Mille, Breitling and even Cartier, Audemars Piguet is always going to have first preference over the very limited allocation. Since the 2000’s the Royal Oak concept collection has been the benchmark of this partnership, where the team and Renaud Et Papi team are given full creative freedom to build their own interpretation of already iconic pieces, and the results are just simply stunning.
With four pieces in the collection and surely growing, the Royal Oak concept tourbillon chronograph was the very first piece to be offered for this specific collection. This particular example is the 18k rose gold version which is certainly much harder to find than its carbon and titanium counterparts. Yes it’s true that Renaud et Papi are best known for their movement design and engineering, but as you can see, much of the original Royal Oak DNA does still exist like the concept collection like the porthole inspired case and bezel along with the perfectly aligned screws.
However, one of the main reasons and probably the only reason for most to want to spend over six figures on one of these pieces is definitely the movement. Unlike most traditional watch movements, the Royal Oak Concept collection has a knack for using completely out of the ordinary materials like forged carbon and even ceramic within the movement parts itself.
The architecture is certainly something to be marveled. Its openness allows for such a clear view within the more precise parts like the balance wheel and the tourbillon cage. Supporting the critical movement parts are forged carbon bridges that emit a unique finish and color combination under different lights. Forged carbon also provides additional value when it comes to saving on weight along with long lasting durability that is not effected by natural elements of aging compared to traditional metals.
As a whole, the concept collection for the Royal Oak can certainly be considered the “futuristic” cousin of the standard royal oak which a much edgier case design with an insane movement to follow.
Like any other timepiece this concept requires a visit to a watchmaker in this case just for a minor tune-up and water-resistance testing (doesn't mean you should go swimming with this watch on unless you're looking to spend a couple grand on a new band). Words of advice by Mitchell Lodowski of Manhattan Time Services horology practice.
Unfortunately, like most good things, these too also come in very limited numbers with prices starting in the upwards of $240,000 for certain iterations. Even in the secondary or pre-owned markets, these watches will still command some serious money, but in all honesty, in that particular price range, these are definitely a good amount of watch for the hefty price.