Audemars Piguet is celebrating 40 years of the women’s Royal Oak timepiece at the SIHH this year. Unveiling the new Royal Oak Frosted Gold, the maison has reinvented an iconic design in collaboration with Florentine jewellery designer, Carolina Bucci.
In 2016, the Le Brassus Manufacture honoured the style and character of the female designers who have contributed to the Royal Oak legacy: from Jacqueline Dimier who reinterpreted Gérald Genta’s initial 1972 model and imagined the first Royal Oak for women in 1976, to Carolina Bucci today.
The Royal Oak Frosted Gold enriches Audemars Piguet’s tradition of experimenting with jewellery techniques in fine watchmaking. The watch is set apart by its shimmering sparkle that comes from a surface treatment process rooted in an ancient gold hammering technique known as the Florentine technique. Carolina Bucci has reinterpreted this technique in jewellery design while Audemars Piguet’s experts developed it into a horological craft suited to the unique case and bracelet construction of the Royal Oak.
The link between the tactile quality of the Florentine finish and the unique brushed and polished work of the Royal Oak’s case and bracelet – a defining detail of this iconic design – triggered the idea of a collaboration between the two parties.
In the past, the Florentine finish has been used in Carolina Bucci’s in small and large jewellery pieces alike. The soft sparkle is achieved by beating gold with a diamond tipped tool. This creates tiny indentations on the surface that give a sparkle effect similar to that of precious stones, like diamond dust. Audemars Piguet’s craftsmen overcame several challenges to apply this surface treatment technique across the case and bracelet of the watch without altering the clean lines that define the Royal Oak’s form. The original gradating bracelet construction has also been maintained and it took months of collaborative efforts between Bucci’s Florentine craftsmen and Audemars Piguet’s manufacture to alter the surface of the gold in such a way that it sparkled when catching the light, while retaining the softness and flexibility of the Royal Oak’s bracelet. The delicate alchemy wherein nothing was added, nothing removed, but the watch was transformed was pulled off with impressive results.
Marking the 40th anniversary of a 1970s house icon, the launch of the Royal Oak Frosted Gold underlines Audemars Piguet’s dedication to an independent view, while celebrating watch veteran Jacqueline Dimier’s initial creation. As one of the very few female watch designers of the modern era, Jacqueline Dimier has shaped the nature of many Audemars Piguet timepieces for both men and women in the past. She has been responsible for establishing a lasting design language that still resonates in the Le Brassus Manufacture today.
When she joined as a designer in 1975, Dimier’s first task was to evolve Gérald Genta’s original Royal Oak design into a modern wristwatch for women. Yet, rather than play down its masculine looks, Jacqueline Dimier shifted the approach and played to the Royal Oak’s strong character, adapting its handsome proportions to obtain a lighter, sleeker look.
It is a timely link to the house’s collaboration with Carolina Bucci today whose vision, although decades apart from Jacqueline Dimier’s, was to give the Royal Oak an appeal that captures the attention from a distance, injecting feminine sensibility while retaining the key design codes of the original piece.
Today Audemars Piguet has merged Jacqueline Dimier’s timeless design with Carolina Bucci’s contemporary approach, marking a dazzling link between modern horology and contemporary jewellery; The Royal Oak Frosted Gold, when a watch icon turns 40 years young!