At SIHH 2015 Audemars Piguet released the latest of its Royal Oak concept pieces – the Royal Oak Concept RD#1 minute repeater. It is inspired by the technological quality of minute repeaters created during the pinnacle of steel gong technology during the period from 1920-1930 – just before electricity became an everyday resource. This watch summarizes 8 years of research and development, all devoted to improve the volume, pitch, tones and harmony of sound of a minute repeater.
Started in 2006, Audemars Piguet has conducted this programme in collaboration with the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). Included were a musician who crafts stringed instruments, an academic consultant from the Geneva conservatory and a sound engineer. The aim was to explore traditional chiming watch artistry that was naturally developed by watchmakers prior to the volume restrictions of water-proof casing. The result? A watch that can be heard not only by its wearer but also by people around him, even in a quite noisy room. It is water resistant up to 20 meters, and it’s one of the most impressive things about the watch that its volume isn’t dampened by such measures.
As well as loud, it’s also quiet. Specifically, the striking activation mechanism within the movement has been re-engineered to make almost no discernible noise itself – creating all the greater contrast when the gongs kick into action.
It uses the same tourbillon chronograph caliber found in Audemars Piguet’s Tradition and Jules Audemars lines – the aforementioned upgrades notwithstanding. The RD#1 features a one-minute tourbillon (located at 6) and a retrograde chronograph with 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock with central sweeping seconds.
All of this is cased into a 44mm titanium case and caseback. Unfortunately, the watch is not for retail sale.