Hands-On: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked.

Legendary. Infamous. Iconic. Revered. Respected. These are the words that suddenly come to mind when I think of the Royal Oak. Its name is synonymous with timelessness, Quartz-crisis savior and status. Nautilus or Royal Oak. It doesn’t matter. It’s an argument that will continue longer after we’re all gone and the next generation of watch enthusiasts take the helm. But every once in a while, Audemars Piguet manage to surprise us all and steer the conversation to the Royal Oak’s insurmountable prowess. Enter the Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked, a symbol of power, wealth and haute horlogerie at its absolute pinnacle.

Sitting at 44mm in diameter and 13.2mm in thickness, the 18k rose gold case of the Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked is magnificent. It’s been vertically brushed from top to bottom, and this level of consistency and detail is second to none. The gleaming polished on the chronograph pushers simply add to the visual spectacle that, for me, is really quite special. The octagonal crown differentiates itself even more by its horizontal brushing, and the octagonal bezel is broken up by the circular-orientated stainless-steel screws, all aligned perfectly and in sync.

Your eyes are drawn from the lateral parts of the case and bracelet to the medial part of the watch: the dial. Audemars Piguet have long reigned supreme in the world of skeletonisation, and the Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked is no exception. The coolness of the ruthenium-toned and satin-brushed surfaces and sub-dials complement the warmness of the 18k rose gold case. The gold bridges and baseplate are finished dramatically, and incline your eyes to the superb tourbillon at 6 o’clock.

The remarkable Calibre 2936 is Audemars Piguet’s very own in-house movement. It’s made up of 299 parts, it’s manually wound and it has been fully exposed front and back. This is a chronograph mechanism with a fully integrated tourbillon that looks absolutely exquisite. The movement boasts a plethora of finishing techniques all done by hand: beveling, polishing, satin-brushing, anglage, hand-sculpting. It’s all done to the finest degree. The exposed sapphire caseback allows for a full view of the mechanism at work, and like the dial side, the caseback has been executed to perfection.

The Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked is an ode to Audemars Piguet’s ability to, in essence, “shut the game down”. The piece is neither here nor there. Instead it really stands in a league of its own. There isn’t much else out there that can compare. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked in 18k rose gold is priced at $297,000USD and is available at Material Good and Audemars Piguet boutiques.

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