Monthly Archives: October 2016

Cheap Replica Audemars Piguet Historian Explains The Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher

As we recover from the surprise launch of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher, in-house Historian Michael Friedman explained the historical significance of the new release by retracing the brand’s early deadbeat seconds in his latest article: Every second counts

In October of 2014, the Audemars Piguet Heritage Department published Stopping Time: The replica Vintage Audemars Piguet Chronograph, an article that shared our research regarding the technical attributes, design aesthetics and rarity of the firm’s exceptional chronograph wristwatches produced between 1930 and 1950. For this article, we plan on stepping back further into the past by exploring a few unusual chronograph pocket watches made during the first 25 years of Audemars Piguet’s history.

Historical dialogues and narratives occasionally shift course as new discoveries are made. This has certainly been the case with the history of chronograph watches in recent years. In 2012, Christie’s Geneva sold a time measurement device made by Louis Moinet circa 1820 with a distinct start, stop and reset function that many global Horological experts have now determined to be the earliest known chronograph. This device, which also has a phenomenal frequency of 30 Hz, was created as a precision timing tool for astronomical observations.

By the early 1800s, clocks and watches had already had a long history of being inextricably linked to scientific observation and advancement. Prior to the invention of the chronograph, precision clocks and watches were developed and utilized to accurately measure and display the passage of time, especially in the fields of navigation, astronomical observation and surveying – John Harrison and his pioneering Longitude timepieces made from the 1730s – 1760s epitomizes this relationship and relevance.

Clocks with precision escapements and deadbeat seconds displays by leading English makers were increasing in production and use by the end of the first quarter of the 18th century and watches with deadbeat seconds and jumping 1/4ths and 1/5ths fractional second displays were being made by the last quarter of the 18th century – these devices can certainly be viewed through the lens of chronograph ancestry as their purpose was to measure and display elapsed time as accurately as possible in specific contexts.

As the 19th century progressed, the functions of jumping fractional seconds, and to a lesser extent, deadbeat seconds, would eventually and occasionally be incorporated into watches with chronograph and split second chronograph complications, including examples made by celebrated watchmaker, Louis Audemars, great uncle of Jules Audemars, and by Audemars Piguet beginning in 1875.

unusual-chronographs-inv-
Circa 1875. Jules Louis Audemars’ school watch (Inv. 8)

Jules Louis Audemars’ school watch was completed in its first incarnation prior to the origins of Audemars Piguet in 1875 and transformed in the workshops over the following two decades. It is a poignant demonstration of his exceptional watchmaking talents even at a young age. The complicated masterpiece combines perpetual calendar with a quarter repeating mechanism and includes the rarely seen independent deadbeat seconds function. The deadbeat seconds is displayed by a central hand that distinctly stops or ticks at each seconds’ indicator before precisely jumping to the next position – 60 jumps per minute. By comparison, most mechanical watches have a small seconds (i.e. subsidiary seconds) or center seconds that is continuously sweeping around the dial.

Jules’ school watch is cased in 18K pink gold and the dial is made of white enamel, featuring Roman hour numerals, outer seconds track and Arabic five-minute divisions all in black. The large 20’’’ movement requires not one, but two spring barrels. The deadbeat seconds consumes such a large amount of energy, hence the need for a dedicated spring barrel and gear train.

unusual-chronographs-inv
Sold in 1889. Split second chronograph with jumping seconds pocket watch (Inv. 18)

Audemars Piguet crafted No. 3316, an exemplary replica Audemars Piguet 18K yellow gold hunter case watch with 19’’’ movement in the mid-1880s. In addition to the split second chronograph mechanism, the watch also precisely measures and clearly indicates each quarter of a second by means of the jumping 1/4ths of a second, displayed by the subsidiary dial at the 6 o’clock position. The jumping 1/4ths makes one complete revolution per second, thereby allowing the user to not only time events to the second, but to the precise quarter of a second. The subsidiary dial at the 12 o’clock position is a 30 minute counter, measuring the overall elapsed time of an event or race lasting between one and thirty minutes. By this time in history, the split second chronograph was widely used, particularly in the sport of horse racing.

Like the deadbeat seconds watch, jumping fractional seconds consumes such a large amount of energy that they need their own dedicated spring barrel. Watches with jumping fractional seconds are sometimes referred to either diablotine, a French term meaning devilish, or to foudroyante, a French term meaning lightning, due to the incredibly rapid movement of the jumping hand.

unusual-chronographs-inv_
Sold in 1890. Split second chronograph pocket watch (Inv. 25)

Produced in the late 1880s and sold in 1890, No. 3824 is a double complication, featuring both split second chronograph and minute repeater. It is important to note that complications were the focal point of luxury fake Audemars Piguet watches from the origins of the company. For example, between 1882 and 1892, approximately 80% of all watches made by Audemars Piguet included at least one complication.

This watch has an 18K pink gold case and white enamel dial with slender black Roman numerals; outer seconds track in black and Arabic five-minute divisions in red. What makes this watch unusual and important is that it includes a security device for the chronograph functions. This device increases the stability of the mechanism by reducing recoil and unwanted motion in the gears and hands when the chronograph is first activated.

unusual_chronographs-inv
1899. Central instant minute counter chronograph pocket watch (Inv. 57)

While subsidiary dials or counters are the traditional way to indicate how many minutes have passed since a chronograph mechanism was activated, there are other less conventional ways of doing so. No. 6225, made in 1899, features an unusual system for indicating the elapsed time of the chronograph.

Upon careful inspection, one will see there are actually four hands attached to the center axis. The first two are the hour and minute hands. The third is the chronograph hand. The fourth hand is where things get interesting: it is this hand that is recording how many minutes have passed since the chronograph was activated, permitting the user to easily record the time duration of an event or race up to 60 minutes. This is referred to as a central instant minute counter.

The dial is made of white enamel with Roman numerals, outer seconds track and Arabic five-minute divisions all in black. There is a subsidiary dial at 6 o’clock indicating the seconds. The movement is a large 20’’’ calibre and is housed in an 18K yellow gold hunter case.

Audemars Piguet’s pursuit of developing and crafting cutting edge chronograph watches is an on-going endeavor that is echoed throughout the entire history of the company: from the chronograph pocket watches that date to the origins of the company, to the first single button chronograph wristwatches produced by sale replica Audemars Piguet watches in the early 1930s, to the exceptional and highly collectible chronograph wristwatches made during the mid-20th century, to the charismatic automatic chronographs of the 1980s, to the release of the Royal Oak Offshore (“The Beast”) in 1993, and to the meticulously executed contemporary Haute Horlogerie chronographs of the 21st century.

UK Cheap Replica Audemars Piguet Watches Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie

When Audemars Piguet first showed the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie in SIHH this year, the halls were abuzz with collectors and journalists asking each other if they have already heard the sound of the minute repeater. Most reports then was that the sound is very loud, very clear, but perhaps needed a bit more tuning to sound beautiful. Fast forward to October, and in a special event to launch the watch in Singapore, we got a close look and listen to the marvel, and came away awed. There are three new concepts put forward by AP to achieve the superb sonics, and we will explore each in turn in this review.

The watch was first presented as a concept in 2015 as the cheap replica Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept RD#1. We covered the essential information of that release in the link. The production model following the concept exploration of the RD#1 is now incarnated in this new, commercially available Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie. The watch is cased in a titanium case, with a titanium bezel, and a ceramic crowns and push pieces for the chronograph, and is water resistant to 20m.

The dial is black openworked with black counters, white gold hands with luminiscent coating and a black inner bezel, and looks almost the same as the RD#1.

ap-supersonnerie

The Singapore launch was held at Infinity Studios, a sound post production facility. The room where the presentation was held boasted of state of the art acoustics, and equipment to match.

infinity-studios

Before we cover the innovations, let’s take a look at the common problems faced by traditional minute repeaters. First the room full of state of the art sonic equipment was put to good use. An UK exacr fake Audemars Piguet pocket watches minute repeater from the turn of the century (1900s) was made to strike. The sound of the strikes were loud and clear. And even in the very quiet, acoustically treated room, the buzz of the regulator was not detected from where we were seated, a distance of about 3m from the watch. But holding the watch close on one’s hand, the buzz of the regulator can be clearly heard, albeit softly in the background. A graphical representation mapping each tone over time shows the following curves:

pocketwatch-chart

Then an Audemars Piguet wrist watch with a minute repeater from the 1920 was sounded. This is a small watch, using an extra-thin caliber 9½SMV6. The sound can barely be heard from where we were sitting about 3m away. On closer examination from about arm’s length, the strikes are very clear, but very soft. The chart is shown below:

johnschaefer-chart

And finally the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie. It was loud, clear and easily heard from 3m away. At arm’s length, the strikes had a high intensity accompanied with a good tempo. The regulator was largely silent until one holds the watch to one’s ear while it is striking. The graph shows the following:

supersonnerie-chart

So subjectively, as compared to its forbears, the pocket watch and 1920s small wrist watch, the Supersonnerie’s strikes are as loud or louder than the pocket watch, have a harmonic richness which is equal to both and a noise floor which is comparable to the small wrist watch of the 1920s. Seemingly a “Best of both worlds” scenario. So how did AP achieve this?

AP established a Sound Lab program in collaboration with the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in 2006. This lab is a dedicated community of watchmakers, technicians, academics and musicians who explore the sound of the minute repeater and try and push the envelop towards a more perfect performance. This lab developed the following three innovations which are incorporated in the RD#1 and the Supersonnerie.

ap-supersonnerie-oblique-crown

The classical minute repeater consists of a set of steel gongs fixed to a mainplate so that the chiming sound is transmitted via the watch’s movement, through the mainplate and other components and communicated to the case. In the Supersonnerie, luxury replica Audemars Piguet considered a system much like that of an acoustic guitar or stringed instrument.

guitar

As the string is plucked or strummed, the sound from the string is enriched harmonically by the enclosure of the guitar box, and is amplified and transmitted through the sound hole towards the listener. The AP Sound Lab hit on this concept and used it as a model for their repeater.

ap-supersonnerie-blowup

The construction of the Supersonnerie is very similar to that of the guitar. The gongs behave like guitar strings, the hammers being the analog to the guitar players fingers plucking on the strings. The gong stud were the gong is soldered to acts like the guitar’s bridge, and the internal soundboard spread beneath the movement is the body of the guitar. The soundboard in the Supersonnerie acts much like the sondboard of the guitar, the volume encapsulated enriches the harmonics, and amplifies the strikes, and propels it out through the vented case back seen at the bottom of the blowup diagram above.

ap-supersonnerie-back-1

The soundboard made of a thin plate of titanium, but it is conceivable that it can be made of stiff paper or wood. Titanium was selected because it is more stable, and can be subject to ingress of water as the watch remains water resistant, but water can enter into the soundboard chamber without entering the movement proper.

Next, AP tackled the problem of the buzzing regulator. Lovers of traditional minute repeaters often love the buzz of the regulator. The regulator times the tempo of each strike. Too fast, and the repeater sounds like its in a hurry. A stressful situation. Too slow, and it seems lazy and languid. But strike at the right tempo, like music, it stirs the excitement, and creates a certain elation. So a well tuned regulator is essential. Some love the sound of the buzzing regulator, but others loathe it.

ap-supersonnerie-oblique

But AP’s Sound Lab figured that a silent regulator, making a dark noise floor is better to appreciate the strikes. So they went about to redesign the strike regulator. The spinning regulator is re-designed to have a more flexible anchor system so that it absorbs the hum. This is not the first time minute repeater engineers have tackled this problem. This is quite ingenious, as the flexible anchor now flexes instead of strikes the cogs as it goes about its job of regulating the speed of the wheels.

The watchmakers at Seiko Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater use air resistance to silence the regulator. They needed this as the Spring Drive system which powers the watch is totally silent, absent of the familiar tick-tock of an anchor escapement, and needed a lower noise floor.

And finally, the third innovation. The new chiming mechanism reduces the quarter-hour silence, and enables the watch’s strikes to move from striking hours to striking minutes to take place within a shorter timespan when there is no quarter hour to strike. For example, in a classical repeater, 5:05 is struck as 5 high pitched strikes, a silence the length needed to strike 3 high/low sets usually several seconds, and 5 low strikes for the minutes. In the Supersonnerie, it goes 5 high strikes, very short silence which sometimes seem to be almost absent, and then quickly followed by 5 low strikes.

ap-supersonnerie-dialup

And finally a security function which shields the crown from being activated for hand-setting while the repeater is striking. In a traditional repeater, moving the hands to to set the time while the repeater is striking is best left to the brave or the foolish, as the watch would often break and require a trip to the watchmaker.

First the sound. The sound is indeed as promised. Loud, clear, clean. With a beautiful decay, and an excellent tone.

Interestingly, when the watch is strapped on the wrist, it sounded even better. The intensity seemed to be amplified, and the beauty of the harmonics come through clearer. This is due to the fact that the Supersonnerie’s internal sound board is transmitting the sound through openings in the case back as opposed to the case back carrying the sound in a traditional minute repeater. The classical repeater’s case back comes into contact with the wrist, and the sound becomes muffled. But for the Supersonnerie, the Sound Board is inside the case proper and does not come into contact with the wrist, and chamber within can resonate, and propagate the sound. The case back now, becomes a board to bounce the sound off, and direct it away from the wrist. Quite amazing.

ap-supersonnerie-wrist

Visually, the watch is quite a spectacle. Large and imposing. The case measures 44 mm x 16.5 mm, although as the case upper is curved, the fit on the wrist is rather reasonable. The case is similar to earlier Royal Oak concepts watches, which to our eyes are a step in the right direction as a more avant garde interpretation over the traditional Royal Oak case designed by Gerald Genta or the Royal Oak Offshore case designed by Emmanuel Gueit.

ap-supersonnerie-dial

Priced at a princely sum of S$ 780,000 with GST, this watch is not for the casual observer, but should be on the shortlist of those searching for the ultimate in minute repeater and/or grand complications of a sporty twist. The prospective buyer probably have already explored and owned minute repeaters from the usual suspects, viz Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and perhaps even a vintage Audemars Piguets. And may be less fazzed with the high price of entry than the rest of us. But even the less economically endowed among us must pause, and applaud AP for the daring and gumption to push the limits of the age old mechanism of the minute repeater. And for the triumph they have created with their investment. For that we take our hats off. Chapeau!

ap-supersonnerie-tourbillon

Functions: minute repeater, chronograph, with tourbillon.

Case: titanium with ceramic crown and pushers, water resistant to 20m, 44 mm in diameter, with inner sealed “sound board” and case back apertures to allow sound to escape.

Movement: hand-wound caliber 2937, 29.90 mm x 8.28 mm; 21,600 bph with 478 components running in 43 jewels. Black rubber strap with AP folding buckle.

Postscript: Did we leave out the tourbillon or the chronograph. Well, sorta. But the striking system is the main draw of the Supersonnerie. The chronograph is quite standard lateral clutch controlled by a column wheel. And the tourbillon is a standard APRP (cheap replica Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi watches) bridged tourbillon, which admittedly is quite well executed and rather a beauty on its own.