Announced in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak Concept line, this is the latest expression of one of Audemars Piguet’s most wild watches, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT . Never one to skip the chance to celebrate an anniversary, the Concept line was created as a special project to mark the Royal Oak’s 30th birthday in 2002. Since then, the Concept line has operated as the most avant-garde branch of the Royal Oak family tree, offering very limited production of equally bold and decidedly tech-forward modern Royal Oaks.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT debuted in 2018, but the general format dates back to the non-flying Concept GMT Tourbillon of 2011. This model, complete with a flying tourbillon surrounded by green ceramic and pink gold accents, uses a 44mm case that is 16.1mm thick and has been fitted with sapphire crystals front and back to show off its remarkable movement. While this is essentially a new color for an existing model range (AP last offered this model with bright blue accents in 2020), it is also a good opportunity to revisit this model’s functionality, all thanks to the remarkable AP caliber 2954 movement.
The 2954 is something extra special and the flying tourbillon is only the start. With some 348 parts, the 2954 is hand wound and, get this, offers a maximum power reserve of 237 hours. Or about 10 days. Ticking at 3 Hz, the movement also supports a second time zone via a clever pair of stacked discs positioned at three o’clock on the dial.
The top disc is made of sapphire and has a transparent background, showing the hours 1-12 and thus rotating once every 12 hours. You can advance the indicated hour – to quickly track another time zone – by pressing the green ceramic pusher located just below the crown on the case flank. Beneath the sapphire hour disc is a second disc (this time made of brass) that manages an indication of day/night by only rotating once every 24 hours. Very clever and rather subtle. Finally, the movement also features a function indicator that shows what function the crown is currently controlling. “H” for time setting, “R” for winding up the power reserve, and “N” for neutral. All of this complexity comes together in a skeletonized movement with, for this reference, green and pink gold accents tucked into black PVD-treated bridges.
While production of this CHF 198,900 travel watch is not specifically limited to a numbered edition, AP is not planning to make very many. As something of a nerd for GMT watches – up to, and most certainly including those I will never be able to afford – I love that a Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT even exists. It’s a truly wild design that does a great job of modernizing the Royal Oak while still connecting to both the original Genta design and Audemars Piguet’s longstanding talent for complicated watchmaking.
Sure it’s big, costs more than my first house, and is likely destined only for serious AP collections, but the Concept line managed to do something new and special back in 2002 and I’d argue – green or otherwise – the whole concept (wink) is aging rather well.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT is about as avant-garde an offering as one will find from a top-tier Swiss manufacture today, which seems to me to be an interesting thing to consider. The line and the basic design of its case have been with us for 18 years. The first Royal Oak Concept watch, designed by Claude Emmenegger, was presented in 2002 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Royal Oak, and it came with a movement developed by Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi (APR&P). As its name would lead you to believe, the Royal Oak Concept line tends to be a bit more experimental than, say, the Royal Oak Offshore. It’s been a springboard for technical developments. The first AP Supersonnerie was a Concept piece, for example.