The Royal Oak has seen many ceramic iterations, but Audemars Piguet has yet to create a full-on ceramic iteration — that is, until SIHH 2017. The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Black Ceramic (reference number 26579CE, if you must) is now ceramic from end to end, and that includes its bezel, case and every single link on the sleek matte black ceramic bracelet.
In its full-on perpetual calendar glory, this Royal Oak is the same size as its standard namesake 41mm, but takes way longer to craft, and we’re talking about five times longer here. An ordinary steel Royal Oak bracelet takes six hours to machine, polish, hand-finish and assemble, but not this ceramic version; it takes 30 hours. This is also after more than 600 hours of research and development, so it comes as no surprise that the timepiece is virtually scratch-proof, resistant to heat, age and thermal shock. For all those qualities you actually end up with a lighter watch — it only weighs 126.9g compared to the stainless steel’s 164.4g — and also a heftier price tag of around S$120,000, one that’s almost equivalent to buying a gold version.
To match the swanky hand-finished case is a slate grey dial adorned with the Royal Oak’s trademark checkerboard Grande Tapisserie guilloche and traditional perpetual calendar registers that reveal the date, day, month, leap year and a stunning photorealistic moon phase indicator. On the outer chapter ring, the 52 weeks of the year are indicated via a corresponding central hand, which isn’t a common trait in perpetuals in the same price league.
Behind, the calibre 5134 — based on the extra-thin calibre 2120/2121 from the original 1972 Royal Oak — sits pretty within the titanium display case back. The famous movement provides a power reserve of 40 hours while oscillating at an unusual frequency of 19,800 vph. Expect this watch to only be available in the second half of 2017. This watch might not be a true limited edition, but it shouldn’t be a cinch to obtain just by virtue of the difficulty in producing it.