The distinction between gentlemen’s and ladies’ watches is becoming less and less well defined as time marches on. Case size, which used to be an important factor, is less significant than ever as men embrace smaller sizes while women are taking on bolder, traditionally masculine designs. This trend is showcased by Audemars Piguet’s collection of Women’s Novelties 2021, which would look just as good on any man’s wrist regardless of their intended audience. There are four watches in the collection so let’s take a look.
Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph
A classic Royal Oak Chronograph is typically 41mm in diameter but since 2019 Audemars Piguet have also offered a smaller 38mm option, a collection that is being expanded with this new timepiece that combines the classic appearance of the Oak with a lavender dial. The purple Grande Tapisserie was achieved through a new colour treatment developed by AP, coating the dial with multiple layers of purple PVD to create a layered effect that makes the colour appear to change hue under different lighting.
As for the 38mm case, it’s made of pink gold and the Royal Oak’s octagonal bezel is embedded with 32 baguette cut amethysts. Pinks and purples might be typically regarded as feminine colours but let’s not forget that purple is first and foremost the colour of royalty and this chronograph is in many ways a kingly watch.
Housed inside is the Calibre 2385, an automatic chronograph movement with a power reserve of 40-hours. It controls the hours, minutes, small seconds and date functions alongside the chronograph hand, 30-minute timer and 12-hour timer. To be honest, it could do with an update to increase the power reserve by a couple of hours but it’s barely an inconvenience as is.
It’s a handsome watch and if you want a statement timepiece, definitely worth considering. After all, if it was in emerald rather than amethyst then we wouldn’t think twice about it, if you’ve seen Drake’s blinged up Nautilus you know what we mean.
Ref: 26319OR.AY.1256OR.01 | Case/dial: 38mm diameter, 18k prink gold, bezel set with 32 baguette-cut amethysts with a “Grande Tapisserie” pattered purple dial | Water resistance: 50m | Movement: Calibre 2385, automatic, 37 jewels, 304 parts | Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz) | Power reserve: 40h | Functions: Hour, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph | Strap: 18k pink gold bracelet | Price: £74,700, available at Audemars Piguet boutiques
Royal Oak Rainbow Double Balance Wheel Openworked
This timepiece is a two-for-one because it’s available in both 37mm and 41mm diameters – so really it’s designed for men and women and size preference is all it comes down to. The case itself, in either size, is crafted from frosted white, pink or yellow gold, materials which appear to sparkle and glitter in the light. It’s a bold look that’s made all the bolder by the rainbow bezel, set with 32 baguette cut gemstones in a vivid colour spectrum.
Rainbows are definitely in right now with most watchmaking brands integrating the colourful design into their work, then again, rainbow designs always have been popular and will likely continue to be. At the extreme end they can overwhelming but this AP manages to stay on the right side of gaudy thanks to a serious haute horology dial.
The openworked dial reveals the Calibre 3132, an in-house automatic movement first released in 2016 with an innovative double balance wheel design that bolsters the precision and stability of the piece. The components and bridges are all dark coloured, with a few gold highlights here and there, which provides a much needed contrast to the case and bezel. The balance wheel arrangement is great to look at, especially with its 45-hour power reserve that will keep it moving.
Personally, rainbows aren’t what I look for in a timepiece but there’s no doubt that these new watches are cool and will give plenty of credit to anyone who picks one up.
Ref: 15468OR.YG.1259OR.01-A (37mm, 18k pink gold case, pink gold-toned dial), 15468BA.YG.1259BA.01-A (37mm, 18k yellow gold, yellow gold-toned dial), 15412OR.YG.1224OR.01-A (41mm, 18k pink gold case, slate grey dial), 15412BA.YG.1224BA.01-A (41mm, 18k yellow gold case, slate grey dial), 15412BC.YG.1224BC.03-A (41mm, 18k white gold case, slate grey) | Case/dial: 37mm or 41mm diameter, 18k pink gold, 18k yellow gold or 18k white gold case, bezel set with 32 rainbow baguette-cut multicoloured gemstones with an openworked dial | Water resistance: 50m | Movement: Calibre 3132, automatic, 38 jewels, 245 parts | Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz) | Power reserve: 45h | Functions: Hour, minutes, seconds | Strap: 18k pink gold, 18k yellow gold or 18k white gold bracelet | Price: POA, available at Audemars Piguet boutiques
Royal Oak Black Ceramic
There is something seductive about black ceramic, its smooth, tactile appearance is innately satisfying and it has a soft edge of menace akin to stealthy, blacked out timepieces. All of which is to say that there have been some stunning watches that have embraced the material recently, most notable the Tudor Black Bay. And while plenty of APs have featured it, now the 34mm Royal Oak has joined the party.
34mm is undoubtably small for a modern watch, almost a full centimetre smaller than the prevailing average of around 42-44mm. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a serious look, there are plenty of men out there with slimmer wrists who appreciate classically sized timepieces. And with its brooding aesthetics – albeit with gold hands and indices – this Royal Oak has a surprisingly masculine feel.
Below the hardwearing, lightweight ceramic is the automatic Calibre 5800, a fairly new addition Audemars Piguet’s line-up that was unveiled in the Royal Oak 34mm last year. As befits a new calibre, it has a great 50-hour power reserve, which is the highest on this list despite being found in the smallest timepiece (matched by the next watch we’ll look at because it also houses the 5800).
The only draw-back, which is true of all these watches, is the 50m water resistance, which feels especially low given the Royal Oak’s sports-luxe appearance. Sure, you’d never take one swimming anyway but 100m feels like a reasonable minimum these days. I only mention it now because it feels particularly egregious on a ceramic watch, considering the renowned durability of the material.
Ref: 77350CE.OO.1266CE.01 | Case/dial: 34mm diameter x 8.8mm height, black ceramic case, black dial with “Grande Tapisserie” pattern | Water resistance: 50m | Movement: Calibre 5800, automatic, 29 jewels, 186 parts | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 50h | Functions: Hour, minutes, seconds, date | Strap: Black ceramic bracelet | Price: £41,200, available in Audemars Piguet boutiques
Royal Oak Frosted Gold
The final watch in the Women’s Novelties 2021 is perhaps the most conventional of all, adhering closely to the classic appearance of the Royal Oak. The 34mm case, again, is small but as we’ve already discussed that’s neither here nor there these days – if you like smaller watches then you might consider this instead of a larger AP, end of story.
However, dismissing this piece as just a small Oak is a bit of a disservice because it’s my favourite of the lot. In frosted white gold and with a pale blue Grande Tapisserie dial, it has a cool, wintery feel that is crisp and satisfying. The blue is also evident on the background of the date function at 3 o’clock, which is a nice touch that blends it in with the dial.
Inside is the Calibre 5800, the same 50-hour power reserve movement that has been used on all Audemars Piguet’s 34mm Royal Oaks. Identical to the ceramic model above.
Ref: 77353BC.GG.1263BC.01 | Case/dial: 34mm diameter, hammered 18k white gold case, light blue dial with “Grande Tapisserie” pattern | Water resistance: 50m | Movement: Calibre 5800, automatic, 29 jewels, 186 parts | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 50h | Functions: Hour, minutes, seconds, date | Strap: Hammered 18k white gold bracelet | Price: £45,100, available at Audemars Piguet boutiques
While the label ‘Women’s Novelties 2021’ might immediately put some men off, there’s nothing here that wouldn’t look great on a man. The chronograph and openworked pieces are both fairly large and the two smaller models are pretty masculine in style. They’re all solid additions to the Royal Oak legacy.
More details at Audemars Piguet.