A Star Is Reborn

Audemars Piguet, the Swiss luxury watchmaker, has unveiled a new Mini Royal Oak quartz model, measuring a mere 23 mm in diameter and executed in 18-carat yellow, white or pink gold.

These mini monochrome timepieces combine the strong aesthetic codes of the original Royal Oak with the shimmering brilliance of Frosted Gold to create a striking visual effect.

Inspired by Audemars Piguet’s rich history of miniature and jewellery watches, this trio of petite watches offers a contemporary interpretation of the 20mm Mini Royal Oak launched in 1997.

By rethinking the proportions, architecture, design and performance of the smallest Royal Oak ever made, the new Mini Oak collection builds on the watchmaker’s legacy to open up horizons for the slenderest wrists, while adapting to a contemporary lifestyle with a quartz movement offering more than seven years of battery life.

A Refined ‘Frosted’ Jewellery Aesthetic

Blurring the line between jewellery and watchmaking, the Mini Royal Oak models, crafted in 18-carat yellow, pink or white gold, combine the powerful aesthetic codes of the original Royal Oak designed by Gérald Genta in 1972, with the delicacy and sophistication of Frosted Gold for a unique, shimmering monochrome aesthetic.

Inspired by an ancient Florentine jewellery technique, the Frosted Gold finish was revisited by jewellery designer Carolina Bucci and adapted by Audemars Piguet artisans in 2016 to adorn the manufacturer’s timepieces. Tiny indentations are made on the gold surface using a diamond-tipped tool, creating a sparkly effect similar to that of precious stones.

The visual impact of this decoration underlines the Royal Oak’s affinity with the jewellery world. Back in 1972, Genta, a trained jeweller, created the Royal Oak with a facetted case and bracelet playing with light like the facets of a diamond. The elaborate integrated bracelet was also reminiscent of the sophisticated metal bracelets that had adorned women’s timepieces since the 19th century.

“These mini creations pay tribute not only to Audemars Piguet’s long tradition of miniature and jewellery watches, but also to the women who have left their mark on the history of the brand, including Jacqueline Dimier to whom we owe the first Royal Oak for women, and Carolina Bucci, the mastermind behind the Frosted Gold finish,” said Ilaria Resta, Chief Executive Officer, Audemars Piguet.

Glamorous Play of Light

Playing with the Royal Oak’s jewellery sensitivities, the new Mini Oak models contrast the diamond-dust effect of the Frosted Gold with the polished bevels that outline the instantly recognisable octagonal bezel and the individual links of the tapering bracelet, creating an endless play of light.

The satin finish on the case and bracelet flanks adds depth, texture and light. For its part, the solid caseback combines sandblasting, satin brushing and polishing to echo the design of the case. This meticulous juxtaposition of finishing techniques required perfect alignment throughout.

The jewellery aesthetic of these dainty creations continues on the dial. The tone-on-tone Petite Tapisserie enhances the play of light created by the Frosted Gold case and bracelet. The luminous dial is complemented by facetted gold hour-markers matching with the colour of the case and filled with luminescent material for optimum visibility in the dark.

The Audemars Piguet signature at 12 o’clock is printed in black on a cartouche to enhance legibility, while the date indication and seconds scale have been omitted to enhance both legibility and the refinement of the guilloché dial. True pieces of jewellery, these timepieces will adorn the wrist with the elegance of a bracelet.

Long Live Quartz

The trio of Mini Royal Oak watches are powered by the quartz movement, Calibre 2730, one of the best in its class for watches of this size. With a battery life of more than seven years, this movement is ideal for a contemporary lifestyle.

In addition, Calibre 2730 is equipped with a ‘switch’: by simply pulling on the crown, the wearer can deactivate the battery temporarily. In keeping with the tradition of Haute Horlogerie, this quartz mechanism is finished with refined decorations.

Mini Watches With A Mighty Legacy

Since the 19th century, Audemars Piguet has created an array of small watches for women that have pushed the boundaries of miniaturisation, gemsetting and aesthetic refinement.

From timeless classics and jewellery pieces to avant-garde artistic creations, these timepieces reflect the technical and aesthetic challenges of their respective eras, often anticipating the evolving tastes and expectations of their female clientele.

 Audemars Piguet’s first feminine creations featured extremely small, complicated mechanisms fitted in elegant, yet discreet pendant, brooch or ring watches, often adorned with enamelled cases set with precious stones.

These smaller models served as a platform for innovation, pushing Audemars Piguet craftspeople to explore new realms of miniaturisation and creativity. The brand developed a host of miniature movements in the early decades of the 20th century, including the world’s smallest five-minute repeater movement, Calibre 7MV5 (15.8mm / 7 lignes) in 1921 and Calibre 5/6SB, the watchmaker’s smallest baguette-style movement (15.9 x 5.8 x 3,3mm) released in 1927.

These feats of miniaturisation resulted in the creation of new styles of bracelet watches, wristwatches and pendant watches for both men and women. Miniaturisation took yet another turn following the introduction in 1972 of the groundbreaking Royal Oak, designed by Genta.

Jacqueline Dimier, who was the head of the design office from 1975 to 1999, was tasked with the mission to design a version for women, giving rise to the Royal Oak II in 1976. This timepiece, powered by the small self-winding Calibre 2062, retained all the codes of the original model (5402) but significantly reduced its proportions to grace smaller wrists.

At 29mm, model 8638, and its gemset 8756 derivative, remains the smallest self-winding Royal Oak ever made.

The introduction and miniaturisation of quartz movements in the 1980s opened up new horizons for high-performance miniature watches, as the efficiency of self-winding mechanisms decreased significantly below a diameter of 29mm.

In 1980, Audemars Piguet launched a 26mm quartz Royal Oak, followed in 1986 by a 24.5mm version powered by the Calibre 2508. Thinner than its predecessor (1.6mm vs. 1.98 mm), this quartz mechanism allowed the diameter of the women’s Royal Oak to be reduced by 1.5mm.

The miniaturisation of the Royal Oak in 1997 coincided with the collection’s 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Audemars Piguet unveiled the Mini Royal Oak (Model 67075), measuring just 20 mm in diameter, alongside the first Royal Oak Grande Complication (model 25865) housed in a massive 44mm case size.

Unveiled together, the two watches embodied both the extreme contrasts of the 1990s and the immense creativity of the brand.

The Mini Oak was powered by the quartz Calibre 2601 created by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1982, which was not only the thinnest quartz movement of its time, but also one of the world’s smallest. 1,254 units of this miniature model were released in 1997, including 465 in steel, 328 in yellow gold, 272 in a two-tone combination, 101 in white gold and 88 in pink gold.

Two gemset variations, models 67076 and 67202 were also launched the same year, produced in 549 and 13 units respectively.

In just three years, 26 models were launched with 1,965 units documented, all presenting a wide variety of creative designs, ranging from Haute Joaillerie versions to rings, pendants and cuff link reinterpretations.

Inspired by the highly creative Mini Oak models produced at the dawn of the new millennium, the latest Mini Royal Oak Frosted Gold Quartz timepieces seamlessly bring together heritage and modernity in a powerful design, whose glamour and play of light are sure to catch the eye.

“Small, charming, creative, almost frivolous, the new Royal Oak Mini watches revive a feminine myth born in 1997,” said Sébastian Vivas, Heritage and Museum Director, Audemars Piguet.

“They demonstrate the extraordinary plasticity of the Royal Oak collection, which transcends decades, gender, trends and dimensions.”

For more information, please visit www.audemarspiguet.com.

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