The Audemars Piguet Tradition Tourbillon Minute Repeater Chronograph (reference 26564) is one of those watches that will never be in my financial reach, but nevertheless very enjoyable to see and to try on my wrists. It is one of those advantages if you are going to SIHH or BaselWorld, you are able to see and try watches that have 5 digit (sometimes even more) price tags.
The Tradition timepiece clearly shows that Audemars Piguet is more than the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore watches. Although being the best sellers of their collection, the Tradition and Millenary collections are definitely worth investigating as well for those who are looking for classic and / or high-end timepieces.
Normally, I think the Tradition collection consists of watches executed in precious metals. This Tradition Tourbillon Minute Repeater Chronograph is quite different from the other Tradition models I have seen. The case is huge for instance. Although 47mm is not that exceptional anymore, it is for a classic timepiece like this. Also, the case of the version I discuss here is crafted in titanium. There will be a version of this watch in pink gold as well. Limited to 10 pieces each. Both versions have white gold elements as well, as on this titanium version, the crown, pushers and case back.
There is a reason for the size of the Audemars Piguet Tradition Tourbillon Minute Repeater Chronograph, which is the minute repeater complication. The large case maximises the sound volume of the minute repeater, as the Audemars Piguet representative demonstrated to me in Geneva.
The back side of the Audemars Piguet Tradition reference 26564 looks like this:
The sapphire crystal on the back side gives us a view on the AP caliber 2874 movement. Proof that Audemars Piguet is not only about Royal Oak Offshore sports watches and chronograph module movements, but certainly plays a role in the highest regions of premier league watchmaking. Audemars Piguet timepieces like this proof that they shouldn’t be regarded less than the likes of Vacheron Constantin or Patek Philippe.
The hand-wound AP caliber 2874 movement consists of 504 parts, the tourbillon cage alone has 83 parts. The finish is impeccable and all done by hand. For instance, the hammers of the minute repeater mechanism have a mirror polish and beveled angles. According to the AP press release, the watchmakers in Le Brassus joke that even “a glance is enough to scratch it”. I wonder whether the same joke goes around for the bezel of the stainless steel Royal Oak models though.
Anyway, this 13 1/4 ligne or 29.90mm movement has 38 jewels, a power reserve of 48 hours and measures 7.65mm in height. The column-wheel chronograph has, as you can see on the first photograph, a large seconds hand and a 30 minute counter positioned on the right of the center pinion. The two white gold pushers are there to start, stop and reset the chronograph mechanism. The slider on the left operates the minute repeater, that will strike the current time using two gongs.
Even though I am very interested in the technical aspects of watchmaking and love a good complication or two, what intrigues me most however, is the shape and finish of the Tradition case. Audemars Piguet states that it grabs back to the 1920s cushion-shaped pocket watches they had in their Audemars Piguet museum in Le Brassus. However, there have been – and still are – Tradition wrist watches in the AP collection before this new Tradition Tourbillon Minute Repeater Chronograph was introduced.
The perfectly crafted silvered opaline dial and pink gold applied hour markers in combination with the brushed bezel of the case are just stunning to me. The other Tradition wristwatches that Audemars Piguet produces are the Tradition Extra Thin, Tradition Perpetual Calendar and the Tradition Perpetual Calendar Minute Repeater. These models have the same superb finish on dial and bezel and just look awesome to me.
Somehow, the Tradition collection never got much public attention and I hope this will change because of this latest addition, the Tradition Tourbillon Minute Repeater Chronograph.