Easily one of the most beautiful engraved and skeletonized watches at SIHH 2016 is the Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon Openworked. Classy, handsome, useful, and timeless, the Jules Audemars Tourbillon Openworked is an easy answer if you are ever asked the question, “what, other than a Royal Oak, would you recommend from Audemars Piguet?”
SIHH 2016 sees absolutely no shortage of skeletonized watches. It was very clear a few years ago that like “ultra-thin” watches, skeletonized (Audemars Piguet prefers the more genteel term “openworked”) watches were experiencing or about to experience a major surge in new products. That surge is here, and my only hope is that at least some of this new generation of hand-decorated skeletonized watches end up being priced in the $10,000-and-under range. With that said, containing copious amounts of hand-decoration and a tourbillon-based movement, the Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon Openworked is resolutely a timepiece for the upper-end price segments.
One of the reasons that the luxury watch industry has no qualms about producing a lot of skeletonized watches is that the technique so nicely asserts the value of a fine watchmaker. It doesn’t take too much to simply produce and assemble the parts necessary to create a mechanical movement. Companies in China do that every day for next to nothing. What does take a lot of work (in addition to making complicated watches that actually operate) is the meticulous effort and skill needed to finish, engrave, or otherwise decorate a mechanical watch. Thus, skeletonized watches offer without any obstruction a view of exactly where the value in a luxury watch exists. For the reference 26143PT.OO.D005CR.01 Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon Openworked, Audemars Piguet didn’t just skeletonize the calibre 2875 movement, but it also richly engraved many of the surfaces.
This combination of an operworked dial with a skeletonized and engraved movement makes for something truly special. With that said, one should not discount the effort required in making the timepiece actually function as a legible wrist watch. Over the movement is a sapphire crystal disc which is for the most part transparent, but given applied 18k pink gold rings and hour markers, as well as anthracite smoked regions to enable legibility on the various subdials. The only sections of the dial which are truly open to the movement are a central ring in the upper subdial which indicates the hours and minutes, as well as the exposed window for the tourbillon.
Thus, Audemars Piguet has been able to fully showcase the beauty of skeletonization while maintaining adequate legibility when trying to read the time, date, or power reserve indicator. On top of that, the Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon Openworked benefits from additional convenience by being an automatic.
The in-house-made Audemars Piguet calibre 2875 automatic movement is produced from 268 parts operating at 3Hz (21,600 bph) with a power reserve of 54 hours. You might notice that conspicuous lack of crown on the case, but Audemars Piguet intentionally designed the Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon Openworked with a perfectly symmetrical case that includes a “hidden” crown which is inset to the side. With that said, the watch is only water resistant to 20 meters – so I’m just going to say that if you have one of these, please don’t get it wet. That means someone else is doing the dishes. And don’t forget to bring a soft pillow with you wherever you go so that you can remove your watch and set it on the pillow each time you are required to wash your hands. If it is raining outside – you certainly aren’t going outside… at least not with Mr. Jules Audemars on your wrist.
To add to the prestigious nature of this watch, Audemars Piguet has produced the 41mm-wide case in solid 950 platinum. I have to say that it is a bit surprising how much platinum (and the related metal palladium) are showing up in watches at SIHH. For a market that is yelling for more steel watches, I find it interesting to see brands also focus on producing timepieces in the most expensive of metals as well. Then again, for a skeletonized and engraved Audemars Piguet tourbillon, would you expect anything less?
Matched to the platinum case is a gray-colored alligator strap with a platinum folding buckle. This reference 26143PT.OO.D005CR.01 Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon Openworked is the type of watch dreams are made of, and while it exists toward the upper end of exclusivity, it is certainly the type of watch I like to have out there for people to aspire to perhaps owning someday. Pricing is $218,300.