Last year, Audemars Piguet gave us a tantalising peek at the Royal Oak Concept RD#1—a watch with the recognisable faceted case shape that also boasted both a minute repeater as well as chronograph and tourbillon complications. It was a concept piece then, but the brand has made it a reality with the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie.
The minute repeater—a highly desirable benchmark of watchmaking skill—chimes the hours, quarters, and minutes past the most recent quarter hour on command. Achieving just the right tone, tempo and volume for the chime is a complex process, and to this end, Audemars Piguet has developed a number of pioneering patents as the result of its chiming watches sound study programme, started in 2006. The research has helped the brand overcome obstacles in the design of wristwatches that have been a hindrance to creating just the right acoustics.
The super-light titanium case of the Supersonnerie has been developed to prevent sound absorption, with the gongs of the minute repeater attached to a material underneath the movement that acts as a soundboard. The system works in much the same way as a guitar, transmitting vibrations to the soundboard instead of the mainplate—as was previously the case—and boosting the amplification of sound. The Supersonnerie also features a redesigned striking regulator for a cleaner tone, as well as improved timing.
The openworked dial, finished by hand, pays tribute to Audemars Piguet’s heritage of traditional skills—but the technological advancements of the minute repeater embrace the future of mechanical watchmaking.