The latest in the line
The new Millenary Minute Repeater in rose gold perpetuates a line of complicated Audemars Piguet wristwatches which includes such exceptional pieces as the Tradition d'Excellence No. 5, the MC12, the Deadbeat seconds and the Carbon One. Cased in pink gold the watch features hours, minutes, seconds and minute repeater functions together with a specifically developed winding system making it - like its illustrious forebears - an exquisite blend of technical sophisticaton, innovative materials and watch making savoir faire.
Its distinctively-shaped case provides an instantly recognisable setting for the eye-catching, gold with enamel subdials which beg closer inspection of the remarkable mechanism within.
What the viewer discovers is that Audemars Piguet's watch makers have blended the long standing tradition of minute repeater construction with the manufacture's very latest technical breakthroughs, not least of which is the AP escapement.
Vital to the smooth running of a watch, the escapement serves to transmit the energy from the barrel to the movement in a perfectly smooth and linear way. Inspired by the work of French, 18th century clock maker Robert Robin, Audemars Piguet's invention combines the high efficiency of a direct impulse escapement with the reliability of a traditional, Swiss lever escapement.
In blending the two, the watch makers at Le Brassus have succeeded in reducing energy losses and in eliminating the need to lubricate the pallet stones - groundbreaking technical advances which have enhanced rating accuracy, long-term stability and shock resistance.
Entirely conceived, developed and produced by Audemars Piguet, the new hand-wound calibre which drives the Millenary Minute Repeater is further distinguished by the atypical construction of the regulating organ which is composed not just of one balance spring, but of two placed top to tail.
This flat, opposite-facing double spring system offers numerous advantages: it ensures automatic compensation for potential poising flaws; it eliminates the need for the 'overcoil' terminal curves of so-called Breguet-type balance springs (which are notoriously difficult to make) and it does away with the imprecision resulting from the vertical position of the watch without needing to resort to a complex device such as a tourbillon.
All of these features serve to ensure finer adjustment of the balance spring assembly, which oscillates at 21,600 vibrations per hour. The two movement barrels, meanwhile, guarantee an exceptional seven days power reserve and a third barrel, dedicated to the striking mechanism, is two-and-a-half times larger than normal, thereby enhancing the regularity of the note.
Finally, in terms of security, the Millenary Minute Repeater is equipped with a balance-stop system designed to ensure time setting accurate to the nearest second. The new winding system also incorporates a security device that prevents time setting while the striking mechanism is in operation in order to avoid any potential risk of damage.
Dynamic three-dimensional architecture.
Such an exceptional mechanism deserves, of course, to be further enhanced by equally excellent finishing. The oval-shaped Millenary case is made from brushed pink gold and topped with a polished pink gold bezel.
The positioning of the gold with white enamel hours and minutes dial, offset at three o'clock, and the small seconds at seven o'clock allow the major movement components to be clearly seen, revealing a wealth of hand-bevelled edges and interior angles as well as the overall anthracite-coloured, galvanic treatment. Note, too, the beautifully 'blued' gong of the minute repeater which is visible from the top as it curves elegantly around the circumference of the case.
This exceptional level of detail can be admired from both sides of the watch thanks to the transparent case back, allowing two distinct views of the Millenary Minute Repeater's truly dynamic three-dimensional architecture.
The contribution made by this watch to Audemars Piguet's long history of minute repeater craftsmanship is, indeed, decisive - not least, perhaps, because it brings 21st century craftsmanship to a centuries-old complication.