Sometimes, all you want is a timepiece that simply looks good without going into details of the complications. While the general public might think of Audemars Piguet as a manufacturer of iconic, overly complicated sports watches – the RD#2 comes to mind – the brand has long pursued watchmaking for purely aesthetic purposes. Amongst a certain subset of female collectors, the Millenary line occupies just such a niche — it comprises timeless 39.5mm pieces that are a kind of communion between mechanical watchmaking and artistic enterprise. Happily, none of the pieces fall short on the mechanical front either.
For 2019, the brand is adding to the collection with the Frosted Gold Philosophique — a style that pares the Millenary design language back to its core tenets, and in doing so, encourages wearers to conceptualise time not as a mathematical measurement but more of a metaphysical sensation.
The new Philosophique novelties are actually inspired by an archival design of the same name — first developed by Audemars Piguet in the 1980s. Steeped in the heritage of 17th-century clockmaking, the first Philosophique’s defining attribute was a dial that didn’t display the precise time, in spectacular fashion. The new Philosophique is much the same: a single hour hand is the only moving component dial-side, tracing an arc that resembles the oval-shaped Millenary case. Unlike conventional wristwatch hands — which rotate on a single axis — the elliptic motion of the Philosophique is made possible by mounting the hour hand on two axes. At the centre of the dial, wearers can clearly see a rotating disc, to which the hour hand is affixed.
Much of the visual uniqueness of the hour hand, in both motion and aesthetic, is down to the new dials. Where previous Millenary watches usually featured an open-worked configuration — in which a series of smaller dials were mounted over the balance wheel — the new Philosophique is the first entry to utilise a solid dial. The base itself is decorated with an irregular ‘hammer-like’ motif, which provides a geode-inspired, almost otherworldly backdrop against which the hour hand moves.
The classic ‘frosted gold’ case of the Millinery — made using techniques inspired by the Florentine jeweller Carolina Bucci — is put to good use here, adding contrast and visual interest to the already striking treatment of the dial.
Underneath the razzle-dazzle of the new Philosophique beats the calibre 3140. Essentially a reworking of Audemars Piguet’s robust calibre 3120 (adjusted to account for the unique motion of the hour hand), the 3140 is an automatic in-house movement, capable of generating up to 50 hours of reserve power. All of the usual decorative elements that come along with even your garden variety movement are present, though the 3140 is notable for having included a solid gold rotor — decorated with the Audemars and Piguet family crests respectively, and then injected with lacquer corresponding to the colour of the dial.
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong.