On the heels of Watches & Wonders, and the various releases we’ve seen over the last few days, Audemars Piguet has announced another new release, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin (RD#3) to celebrate the Royal Oaks 50th Anniversary. The watch marks the first time the brand’s Calibre 2968 with self-winding tourbillon in a smaller case size, with the promise of an even smaller case in the coming months.
The New Jumbo Ultra-Thin Tourbillon is actually a much bigger undertaking than simply a new movement in a smaller case size. In fact, there were numerous technical challenges that Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin had to take on in order for the watch to feel uniformed and cohesive. The hallmarks of a Royal Oak are all there. The brushed stainless steel case (though, sized down to 39mm), the integrated bracelet, the Tapisserie dial, it’s all still quintessentially a Royal Oak. Unlike the tourbillon release of a couple years ago, this Tapisserie dial is in the traditional Royal Oak configuration, and not the sunburst pattern that became so popular in 2020 to accentuate the Tourbillon. In this case, the Tourbillon sits squarely (no pun intended) at the six o’ clock indice, flanked by the guilloche pattern, however, this isn’t exactly the same tourbillon.
Actually, a number of changes had to be made to the movement to make it work well in the 39mm case. Because the base Calibre has historically been reserved for Audemar Piguet’s 41mm, the movement had to be slightly reworked for a coherent Tourbillon in a smaller case. For starters, the thickness had to be reduced fairly drastically, since the 41mm case allowed for some extra room in the watch, while the 39mm case does not. The Tourbillon cage had to be reconfigured with a peripheral drive. This reduces the thickness slightly, and gives the Tourbillon a more fluid energy distribution.
Additionally, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin component received some visual touches, specifically around the escapement and balance wheel. For one, a new Escapement was reconfigured to be more visually available, and the escapement arms were reconfigured to the cage to allow for a thinner profile, and exposure to the Tourbillon itself.
Of course, as is the standard with Audemars Piguet, the decoration is impeccable. From the Tourbillon, which is obviously the star of the watch, to the movement itself. Flipping the watch over, the Calibre 2968 looks great. It features the 50th Anniversary rotor, and features a 50 hour power reserve.
Overall, this watch is a knockout. We’ve seen the addition of four new Royal Oak’s earlier this year, but nothing quite like this. The 39mm profile is what I would consider the perfect size for the Royal Oak, and overcoming some of the more technical challenges involved with creating a solid, yet aesthetically pleasing Tourbillon shows the brand’s prowess for innovation. I do appreciate the lack of sunburst Tapisserie dial, and the smaller case size is much more appealing to me. The brand has also stated that a 37mm model will be available in September.