The perpetual calendar is among the most highly regarded complications in horology – and with good reason. The way its all-mechanical brain knows the lengths of the months throughout the years and makes the date display jump from the 28, 29, 30 or 31st day to the 1st all by itself, even in leap years, is genuinely amazing to all watch enthusiasts – while its exact workings is understood by much fewer. The four new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar watches for 2015 bring back the terrific looks of the original “RO QP” – the Royal Oak Quentième Perpetual – albeit at a slightly larger size.
Originally designed in 1981, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar to this day, remains one of the most timelessly beautiful dress watches with this complication. What’s new in 2015 is that the “new” models, by the reference 26574OR.OO.1220, are 2 millimeter wider, coming in at 41 millimeters now (that is, excluding the crown, as always).
Two versions in steel and two in pink gold, the updated models all contain the Audemars Piguet 5134 caliber which is an updated version of the 2120 – for this mere 2 millimeter increase in case diameter, the manufacture has redesigned the movement somewhat so that it is in accordance with the slightly larger case size. A perpetual calendar with automatic winding, the 5134 still comes in at a mere 4.31 mm thick and is exposed by a sapphire caseback.
The dial layout of the 2120 remains, meaning that you have the months and leap year indications at 12, date at 3, phase of the moon display at 6, and the day of the week at 9 o’clock on the dial. What appears to be new is the 52-week indication that is displayed via a central hand pointing towards its respective scale on the flange ring, right on the periphery of the dial.
While Audemars Piguet refers to the 5134 caliber as “new,” beyond the beautiful dial layout what remains as a less welcome heritage from its predecessor is the set up of push-pieces sunk into both sides of the case. Given that AP say they bothered updating the movement, it would have been nice to see at least some of these gone – right now, it appears that there are a total of 5 pushers set into the side of the case to allow for the adjustment of the different calendar indications. It is more than likely that it is the remarkable thinness of the 5134 caliber that didn’t allow for some of these corrector buttons to be replaced by new setting positions of the crown – nevertheless, it would have been a more technically impressive development to see some of these gone for good.
Still, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, with its silver or deep blue “Grande Tapisserie” guilloche dial arguably remains one of the all-time greats among perpetual calendar watches – and with this new, 41mm-wide and yet still very thin case, it will, without the shadow of a doubt, wear beautifully on the wrist. Price for the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar 41mm 26574OR.00.1220 is $60,900 in steel and $95,700 in pink gold. audemarspiguet.com