For 2011 one of Audemars Piguet’s exotic complication pieces will be this Millenary Minute Repeater watch. I was told by Audemars Piguet that their Millenary line is undergoing an overhaul. Looks like 2011 will not be the year we see new Millenary cases and style, but we will see this sophisticated Minute Repeater with another interesting balance wheel and escapement device.
The terminology throws me off a bit. There are terms like “AP Exhaust Pulse Direct.” Not sure what that is, but it sounds like something from a race car, not timepiece. Previous to this new movement, Audemars Piguet Millenary Date Automatic showed off its AP Escapement. That escapement was really fast, to allow for greater accuracy. The AP Escapement was one that they developed to run at something like 72,000 bpm (amazing). Here in the Millenary Minute Repeater, the movement has slower 21,600 bpm movement, but AP uses one of those trendy new “double balance spring.” These are pretty neat and are supposed to help cancel out error making the movement more accurate. Basically the balance spring attaches at two points (versus the older Breguet over-coil style attachment). If I had larger images I would show you a closeup of the escapement so that you could see what I am talking about.
Double balance springs (also called “double flat spiral here) work pretty well I hear, but I don’t have a quantifiable number as to how much better they are. It is part of a brand new movement which is the Caliber 2910. It mixed that exotic new double balance spring with a minute repeater. Cause you know, having a minute repeater is never not appreciate. AP does however make it clear that the watch is NOT water resistant. Most good minute repeaters aren’t – because sealing a case makes minute repeaters often sound like crap. The watch has a power reserve of 165 hours, which is really long. That is between two barrles. A third barrel is in there for the minute repeater’s power needs. The movement is also neat because it is oval in shape – which I find cool.
The Millenary case here is 47mm wide and in titanium. AP is still on their “light” watch kick. At least it is not in a precious material – that would really harm the sound of minute repeater. Over on the front of the watch is a combo of a real dial and an open movement. The mix is well done from a style perspective. AP designers did a good job at combining a sense of technical sophistication with old world elegance. On the right of the dial the pink gold tones hour makers and hand are traditional and attractive. Moving to the right the dial is more futuristic. This starts with the white and red colors of the subsidiary seconds dial, as well as the open movement and exposed double balance spring style escapement. Great use of contrast by AP right?
The movement design is also interesting because of how elements are arranged. The front of the watch has elements like the minute repeater hammers and gong, as well as the escapement. These elements tends to be reserved for the back of a movement. Last, there is a new security mechanism the prevents the user from setting the time while the minute repeater function is in operation. This would otherwise potentially damage the movement. Details such as this are necessary for fully appreciating the work that went into a piece such as this. Not sure about price or how many will be made. I will learn more soon.
Tech specs from Audemars Piguet:
- Manufacture Caliber 2910
- Hours / minutes to 3 hours off-center, off center at 7 seconds
- Winding stem with 3 positions
- Bolt: repeat triggering minutes 7am
- Movement dimensions (WxH): 37.90 x 32.90 mm
- Casing diameter (WxH): 37.00 x 32.00 mm
- Total height of movement: 10,05 mm
- AP Exhaust Pulse Direct
- Balance with weights varying inertia
- Beam diameter: 11.90 mm
- Double flat spiral
- Power reserve: 165 hours
- Frequency: 21,600 vph (3Hz)
- Number of components: 443 parts
- Ruby: 40 stones
- Finish: hand-decorated all components: bevelling hand, reentrant corners, snailed, haggard, “CÃ´tes de Genève and horizontal graining on the plate
- Oval titanium casing
- Width: 47 mm
- Height: 42 mm
- Sapphire back
- Anthracite dial, gold applied Roman numerals, pink, silver small second counter
- Hand-sewn alligator strap black “large square scales with AP folding clasp in titanium
- Hours and minutes
- Small seconds
- Minute repeater
On the wrist, however, at 47 mm, this is clearly a watch whose real bodily existence strongly refutes the thought that it had been designed as, and intended to be, a more sedate option to the Royal Oak. The struggle, for AP, has been really getting on the wrists of those who doubt its its ability to have an equal, if definitely different, impact.And Audemars Piguet surely have not treated it as a second-class citizen. Around since the mid-1990s, the Millenary has housed multiple luxury complications and introduced new types, but still it’s been overshadowed by the sheer popularity of its brethren. On the wrist yet, there is no denying the Millenary, such as the Royal Oak, has a strong and dynamic architecture and existence all its own. The struggle, for AP, has been getting it on those who hesitate at its somewhat unusual case shape.Enter that the Openworked Millenary: an exceptionally skeletonized, timepiece that instead of attempting to compete with anything else in the AP stable, stakes a claim to its powerful design language. Audemars Piguet possess a history of hammering timepieces to the bone via the art of openworking, starting in 1921 with among their pocket watches, and ever since then they’ve become famous for the excellence of the openworking in many, many different wristwatches also, up to and including members of the Royal Oak family (see for instance that the Extra-Thin and Tourbillon Extra-Thin openworked versions).