I cant believe that its already the 40th Anniversary of Audemar Piguets iconic watch, the Royal Oak. From the first time Ive saw one at my local AD Ive always been attracted to the 39mm size of the Royal Oak more so than the currently popular Offshore versions.
In terms of watch complications, Ive always been fascinated by the perpetual calendar movement because of the complexity of what it can do. Im still amazed that a bunch of tiny gears, springs, levers and other parts are able to accurately indicate the day, date, month, and the leap year cycle.
So during my early stages of building up my watch collection I finally had a chance to own one of my dream watches, an AP Royal Oak perpetual calendar in 18 carat yellow gold. It was nearly perfect for me, the size fit nicely on my small wrist, the sharp angles of the Royal Oak case combined with the alternating brushed and polished finish was so attractive. And the yellow gold case and bracelet gave it a nice heft on my wrist. It was a substantial solid piece of art that I could wear. To top it all it has a flat gold colored dial that made the watch easy to read.
My RO perpetual calendar has performed extremely well but I never really paid attention to the exact details of the leap year movement until a few years ago when I attended the first 1st Perpetually Purists GTG in 2008. The Southern California event was held at the Rainbow Bar & Grillhttp://www.watchprosite.com/?show=forumpostf&fi=17=2469556&ti=412121&s=0
You can see from the photo report of the event (see link above) that my AP Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar performed perfectly. The transition from Friday February 29th over to Saturday March 1st happened right at 12 oclock midnight.
I loved wearing the gold perpetual calendar but I have to admit that it wasnt exactly perfect. There were a few minor details that I felt was missing on being the grail watch for me. My first issue was on the dial side. My Royal Oak model subdial at the 12 oclock position indicated only the month. Especially during the transition from February 29th I really wished that it had the leap year indicator. Another dial side item that I didnt really care for is the shape of the hour and minute hands. I felt that it looked really plain having simple straight gold hands. It also was a little hard to read the time because the gold hands blended in with the gold dial in strong sunlight.
Turning the watch over the case had a solid gold caseback. Besides perpetual calendars I like having skeleton watches so that I can view the intricate engraving and polishing done on the movement. So my third wish for the perfect perpetual calendar would be a transparent caseback so that I can enjoy staring at the decorated movement.
Well fast forward to 2011 when I made a trip out to (where else?) Las Vegas to attend IGOTT2. Ive been seriously thinking about getting another AP Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar mainly for the transparent caseback and the leap year indicator. A fellow PuristS was wearing the model 25829ST which is the perpetual calendar skeleton version. It was so beautiful that I knew that I had to get one.
So a few months later I ended up with the Royal Oak stainless steel perpetual calendar skeleton. Its such an amazing watch to see in person and it had all the qualities that I really wished for when compared to my original gold version. So lets take a closer look at this complication.
The following series of photos were taken on February 29th so that I can see the performance of the perpetual calendar transition for leap year. I was on business travel during this time and was just arriving back home so unfortunately I couldnt join with fellow SoCal PuristS for the Perpetually PuristS GTG but I did the best I could with a few pics capturing the time starting at 10:35pm. As you can see the subdials indicate Wednesday but the date subdial at 3 oclock position has already started the transition between 30th and 31st.
Even when the time was around 11:30p there really wasnt much happening to the subdials. Most of the movement was still at the date subdial at the 3 oclock position:
But once the time approached 11:50p things were starting to really move:
After just a few minutes when the time past 11:55p the day subdial at the 9 oclock position was nearly on Thursday and the subdial for the date at 3 oclock was almost on the 1st. The month was still in February.
I then switched my little point and shoot camera to video mode and captured some shaky video of my watch at it swept past midnight. Ill try to post the video as soon as possible but Im really proud to say that the AP watchmakers did a great job with this piece since it transitioned properly to March 1st at midnight.
Next lets take a look around the various angles of the Audemar Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Skeleton. Just like my gold version, the case thickness is a thin 9.3mm. I wear a suit and tie to work every day, not even a single casual Friday sad , and it fits fine under my dress shirt. I think it works well with a suit and sport enough to pair with casual weekend clothes.
And speaking of comparing the gold versus the stainless steel skeleton, Im really surprised by how light my new watch really feels. Everyone that has handled it always comment about the lightness.
Still in the side views of the case, the month and leap year indicator has corrector buttons at the 2 oclock position. The moon phase has the corrector located at the 4 oclock position.
On the side opposite of the crown we have two more correctors. The day can be updated with the corrector at the 8:30 position and finally we have the fourth corrector for the date at the 10 oclock position. An interesting note about the correctors is that if the watch is stopped for less than 3 days I can simply use the crown and adjust the time and all of the functions (day, date, month, leap year and moon phase) are all synchronized. But if the watch has been stopped longer than 3 days Ill need to adjust the watch using the correctors.
Luckily I haven't really need to pull out the stainless steel stylus to make any adjustments. I usually wear this perpetual calendar on a daily basis but on weekends I sometimes put it in the winder to keep it fully activated. My Royal Oak does come with its own winder which is also the storage box or as the AP instruction booklet calls it presentation case. The exterior is the typical wood finish of the Royal Oak boxes with a dark slightly reddish tinted wood. It has a faceted glass display window and is a little bit larger than the regular box.