What originally started in concept form has now hit the mainstream. Audemars Piguet has just announced a 41mm Royal Oak featuring a flying tourbillon, and it’s available in three surprising variants – 18k pink gold (not that surprising), titanium (OK, OK, OK), and…steel (hey now). While this is not at all the first time that the Royal Oak has played host to a tourbillon, this is the first time that a non-concept model has rocked a flying tourbillon, and they’ve even thrown in automatic winding to boot.
The first Royal Oak Tourbillon dates back to the model’s 25th anniversary and was launched in 1997. The new Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon follows that late-’90s lead within the now-modern 41mm format. AP reference nerds will want to take note of a new brand signature featured on these models, which for the first time is rendered in galvanic growth 18k gold (Audemars Piguet says the process is similar to 3D printing), a delicate process that was originally used for the lacquered dials of the Code 11.59 family.
The three references are easily differentiated by their dials, with the steel 26530ST model featuring a radiant blue coloring over a tappisserie pattern that emanates from the center of the tourbillon. Likewise, the gold 26530OR model has a smoked grey iteration of the same dial design. Finally, the titanium 26530TI goes its own way with a truly gorgeous and entirely understated sandblasted slate grey dial. As a quiet backdrop for a very flashy complication, this pairing strikes a lovely balance that looks to work beautifully with the 26530TI’s titanium case and bracelet.
These Royal Oaks deliver their high-flying functionality from Audemars Piguet’s Calibre 2950, an automatically wound movement that ticks at 3 Hz while offering 65 hours of power reserve to keep the hands moving and that tourbillon spinning. While the 2950 was originally launched in the Code 11.59 line, flying tourbillons are a flagship complication for Audemars Piguet and are characterized by a tourbillon that does not have an upper (dial side) tourbillon bridge. Supported by the backside of the mechanism (via a component called the arbor), flying tourbillons allow a better view of the animated function as it spins. Since that captivating motion is a huge part of a tourbillon’s appeal, if you’re going to pay for a tourbillon, you might as well see as much of it as possible, right?
As is the case with all Royal Oaks, one really must see them in the metal, and I’m quite excited to see live photos and wrist shots (especially of the titanium version) as these undoubtedly exclusive watches start to find homes with lucky new owners. Pricing is stated as “available upon request” and, while I most certainly did request, AP must have known there was no way I could consider myself a qualified buyer. Tourbillon or not, I suppose I need not fly too close to the sun.
Brand: Audemars Piguet
Model: Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon
Reference Number: 26530ST, 26530TI, 26530OR
Case Material: Steel, titanium, or 18k pink gold
Dial Color: Blue (steel), grey (titanium), grey with Evolutive Tapisserie (pink gold)
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Integrated matched metal bracelet
Caliber: AP Calibre 2950
Functions: Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon
Power Reserve: 65 hours
Frequency: 21, 600 vph
Pricing & Availability
Price: Available upon request