Swiss Audemars Piguet has been creating some of the most technically interesting watches in their Royal Oak Concept collection for the past couple of years. Last year, they showed off the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer, a highly complicated chronograph with three column wheels that could measure consecutive lap times. And earlier this year, they unveiled the equally complex Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie Tourbillon Chronograph watch, a minute repeater exemplifying Audemars Piguet’s obsession with sound clarity and quality.
Of course, it would be cruel to show you pictures and tell you about this watch’s amazing sound without a video to let you hear it, so do play the video above to hear it for yourself. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph watch is a piece that took Audemars Piguet eight long years to develop, and the goal was to create the ultimate striking watch. The minute repeater complication is often regarded as one of the most difficult and… well, complicated to make – so imagine how hard it is to create one from scratch. The next thing to remember is that Audemars Piguet didn’t only want to create a new minute repeater watch, they wanted to create one that would be the best.
Now, the “best” for Audemars Piguet means their striving to create the most clear and crisp sound of any minute repeater. The brand points to three accomplishments demonstrated in this watch, which I will briefly run through. First, the unique preparation of the steel used to create the gong structure allows the watchmakers to more accurately and easily adjust and hone the pitch, tone, and harmony of the minute repeater. Second, the way the case is built minimizes sound absorption and maximizes amplification. I’ll discuss this “soundboard” technique more a little bit later on. Finally, the striking regulator is redesigned so the anchor system acts like a shock absorber, minimizing shock noise.
One of the most important components of a minute repeater watch is the case because it is responsible for amplifying the sound. It is often said that gold is the best material for the job because it produces a richer sound, but the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie Tourbillon Chronograph watch opts for titanium. Titanium is a very light and strong metal, and its low density allows sound to pass through with less resistance. If you have any doubts about this, you only need to look at exotic supercars and their titanium exhausts. Titanium is also used elsewhere around the watch to improve the quality of the sound, but more on this later.