In a union of Swiss craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology, Audemars Piguet has added a fascinating new chapter to its storied Royal Oak collection. For the first time, the esteemed Haute Horlogerie manufacturer presents the Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie in a black ceramic case, accentuated by white gold and titanium details. The ceramic caseback of these masterpieces features a multitude of apertures, specifically designed to amplify the minute repeater’s chime, showcasing the intricate manufacturing processes that ceramic components undergo.
Each case component is polished and satin-brushed by hand, ensuring the highest quality finish. The remarkable hue of the black ceramic is achieved through a sintering process at a temperature exceeding 1,000°C, involving Zirconium Oxide powder (ZrO2). To pay homage to its acoustic prowess, the casebacks have been artistically engraved with sonic waves.
The black monochromatic allure extends to the Grand Tapisserie dials, which house minute trains and small seconds counters at 6 o’clock, with snailing finishing. The first model brandishes white gold hour-markers, while the second shimmers with 13 baguette-cut diamond hour-markers. Both versions feature white gold Royal Oak hands coated with luminescent material for maximum readability.
While ceramic is not traditionally known for its sound conductivity, Audemars Piguet’s patented Calibre 2953 and the state-of-the-art Supersonnerie mechanism defy that notion, offering an acoustic performance that is nothing short of extraordinary. This is thanks to eight years of collaborative research with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and a dedicated group of watchmakers, engineers, and musicians.
Unlike traditional construction where gongs are attached to the mainplate, here they are connected to a special titanium membrane that acts as a soundboard. This amplifies the minute repeater’s chimes, achieving an auditory experience typically reserved for pocket watches. Small apertures in the caseback create a resonance chamber, allowing the sound to fill the space, undeterred by the ceramic case.
Chiming mechanisms are a historic forte of Audemars Piguet, dating back to its inception in 1875. Records indicate that over half of the watches produced between 1882 and 1892 featured a chiming mechanism. Despite a decline in chiming wristwatches through most of the 20th century, the company reintroduced them in the 1990s, with the Royal Oak collection incorporating minute repeaters in 1997.
In 2015, the Supersonnerie technology was launched in a Royal Oak Concept, marking a significant advancement in the acoustic performance of wristwatches. The technology was integrated into the main Royal Oak collection in 2019 and has since seen variations in case materials from titanium to platinum and 18-carat golds.