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Editor's Pick

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked

By Aaron Voyles
6 min read

Ceramic construction? Check. Openworked dial? Check. Gorgeous movement? Check. It is watch we all know and love but somehow, this iteration of the iconic Royal Oak is a class apart

 

I'm certainly not the kind who exaggerates but I want to say that around 95 percent of watch enthusiasts are familiar with the Royal Oak’s design. After all, the Royal Oak has been around since 1972 and it is the watch that created the luxury sports watch market as we know it today. Ever since its debut, its legendary design has become the Swiss watch industry’s lynchpin. Unique, timeless and absolutely exclusive, it has grown into a self-sustaining beast.

While the iconic stature of this watch certainly comes with a lot of benefits, it has its drawbacks as well. It means that Audemars Piguet has a rather hard time updating its design while introducing new iterations. Sure, you could do any number of things to the design, but you can't stray too far away from what its core DNA dictates and that makes the brand’s job particularly difficult. However, having that said, I think the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked ref. 15416CE is as close to perfect as possible. Standing as Audemars Piguet’s first fully ceramic Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked, this timepiece is utterly stunning. So let's dive into it.

 

RO black ceramic
RO black ceramic

 

What Does Ceramic Add to the Design?

The Royal Oak's construction has gone down in the history books on horology as one of the industry's most influential designs. While one could argue on what should be considered in the second place, the Royal Oak's design is a clear winner for me. With its iconic octagonal bezel, thin case profile, unique integrated bracelet, exposed screws and naked crown, it has transcended every other watch design, in my opinion, at least.

 

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Finished to perfection, the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked is staggeringly beautiful and offers an extremely unique viewing experience 

 

Featuring all the hallmarks of the quintessential Royal Oak, the Openworked ref. 15416CE uses black ceramic to modernise its aesthetic in a visually powerful way. For a start, the ceramic's black sheen looks stunning and enables its variety of surface finishes to stand out more than they would in a metal. With vertical satin finishing throughout most of its construction, this watch’s polished bezel edge, chamfered bracelet edges and polished link internals all stand out, making the piece visually intriguing with its contrasting polished surfaces and satin finishing. Metals too hold this variety of finishes, but not as well as it is seen on ceramic, which is mainly due to its hardness.

 

RO Black Ceramic
This is the first Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked with a ceramic case and bracelet

 

While the use of ceramic in this watch means it requires about five times more work than a watch in steel, it also adds an extra dimension to the ref. 15416CE's design. Ceramic is virtually scratch-resistant and surprisingly light on the wrist, enabling the wearer to maintain his/her timepiece's condition as if it was new. With its sleek black aesthetic practically devoid of imperfections, the ref. 15416CE is a stunning watch that takes the Royal Oak's timeless design and slingshots it into the forefront of modern watchmaking. Not just an afterthought, the Openworked ref. 15416CE's ceramic construction is actually one of its most essential attributes.

 

Openworked Display

As its name implies, the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked ref. 15416CE features an openworked display. Widely accepted as the founders of modern openworking, the ref. 15416CE is in good hands considering AP's history in pioneering this particular watchmaking technique. Since introducing their first openworked wristwatch in 1921, the brand has become the proverbial "best in the business" when it comes to openworked dials and the ref. 15416CE shows us precisely why it is so.

 

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The openworked dial showcases Audemars Piguet’s exemplary artisanal skills in hand-finishing and design
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In contrast to the luminescent pink gold hour markers and sleek hands, the subtle grey tones make for a perfect backdrop

 

Featuring no traditional dial display aside from its slate grey chapter ring complete with pink gold applied indices, the ref. 15416CE displays its stunning movement in its entirety. One of the crucial aspects of openworked dials is a brand's ability to strip the parts within their movements to showcase as much as possible while retaining the watch’s shock-resistant capabilities and rigidity. Not as simple as it sounds, a lot of engineering is required to determine what material can and can't be removed from the various components. 

Finished to perfection, the Openworked ref. 15416CE's movement is staggeringly beautiful and makes for an extremely unique viewing experience. In contrast with the luminescent pink gold hour markers and sleek hands, the subtle grey tones make for a perfect backdrop. Capping this wonderful display, we have the eponymous pink gold double balance wheel, which is where AP's watchmaking credentials genuinely come to the fore.

 

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RO

 

Like most Audemars Piguet offerings, the Openworked ref. 15416CE features an incredible movement, the Calibre 3132, which is a step ahead of the usual movements within the Royal Oak collection, in terms of just how well made it is and how stunning it looks. On display behind a titanium exhibition caseback, the movement features an openworked 22k gold winding rotor and a plethora of finishing techniques which we'll get into later.

The crown jewel of Calibre 3132 is undoubtedly its double balance wheel — an incredibly complex regulating organ that improves chronometric performance far beyond the capacity of a regular single balance. By using two balance springs of the same alloy and setting them 180° apart, Audemars Piguet has enabled the movement to cancel out any friction that a double balance spring would otherwise generate, thus improving the overall chronometric performance of the watch.

 

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The Calibre 3132 runs at a frequency of 3Hz with a power reserve of 45 hours
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By using two balance springs of the same alloy and setting them 180° apart, Audemars Piguet has enabled the movement to cancel out any friction that a double balance spring would otherwise generate

 

On display between 6 and 9 o'clock on the dial side of the timepiece, the pink gold double balance wheel assembly provides an aesthetic flourish that draws attention to the heart of this incredible machine. With the double balance contrasting against the dark grey steel backdrop of the Calibre 3132's skeletonised bridges and gears, the resulting view is gorgeous. Decorated within an inch of its life, the Calibre 3132 features sharp hand-finished anglage, hand-polished chamfering and a variety of polished and brushed surfaces that complement one another beautifully.
 

Quick Take

Coming in at 41mm and under 10mm thick, the Openworked ref. 15416CE wears perfectly, as its case ends curve down to hug the wrist in the most natural way. The watch exemplifies Audemars Piguet’s exemplary artisanal skills in its various finishes. With its stealthy black ceramic construction and the flamboyant openworked dial, this is one timepiece that will definitely make an impression.
 

Specifications 

Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked (Ref. 15416CE.OO.1225CE.01)

Case size: 41mm
Thickness: 9.7mm
Material: Black Ceramic
Crystal: Sapphire Crystal
Water-resistance: 50m

Movement: Manufacture Calibre 3132
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 bph (3Hz)
Power reserve: 45 hours
Strap: Integrated bracelet
Price: CHF 77,700 / HKD 631,000(approx.)

For more information, visit Audemars Piguet.

This watch is not for sale.