Imagine the responsibility and challenges of producing 50Th-Anniversary watches honoring the pioneer and undisputed leader of the luxury sports watch. Fortunately, Audemars Piguet was undaunted by the challenges and celebrated its Royal Oak 50th birthday with standout models such as the Jumbo Extra-Thin 16202 with a newly developed movement. A few months after the initial euphoria, AP unveiled the first jumbo equipped with a flying tourbillon. Merging the classic design cues of the iconic Jumbo with the new extra-thin flying tourbillon movement (caliber 2968), the 39mm steel case displays the signature blue A short garment Dial. Given the challenges of developing a new caliber to fit the jumbo’s slim 8.1mm case height, the project was handed over to AP’s Research & Development department to become the RD#3. History repeats itself today as AP unveils the second version of its Royal Oak RD#3 with the classic in an even smaller 37mm case size. A short garment Dial in a bold plum color.
When is a jumbo not a jumbo?
Revered as a design icon, the Jumbo is as close as you can get to Gerald Genta’s original 1972 Royal Oak. Its 39mm, extra-thin stainless steel tonneau-shaped case, integrated bracelet, octagonal bezel with eight exposed screws and A short garment Dial, Jumbo has become one of the most sought after models in the world. Nicknamed the ‘Jumbo’ in the 1970s due to its ‘large’ 39mm case, many fans feared for the Jumbo’s soul when AP killed off the legendary reference. 15202 in 2021 to pave way for 50Th-Anniversary ref.16202 of 2022. Fifty years later fitted with a new extra-thin in-house movement – a JLC 920 ebauche – the latest Royal Oak Jumbo 16202 Monochrome team is in focus, almost identical to the original on the outside but even better on the inside.
Although the spirit of the ‘jumbo’ lives on in this 37mm, and I’m tempted to call it a ‘baby jumbo’, this new watch cannot be considered a jumbo as it does not meet the exact specification of the 39mm case size AP. The castle is in place to protect its king. The best way to understand this new 37mm model classification is in the context of AP’s Research & Development models, which include creations such as the RD#1 RO Concept Minute Repeater Supersonnerie and the RD#2 RO Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra. -Thin engineering. The 39mm RO Jumbo Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin RD#3 marks the third innovation and is now accompanied by this smaller 37mm, both powered by the new caliber 2968.
Case and dial
The smaller 37mm model has the 8.1mm case height and 50m water-resistance of its larger sibling, and is also fitted with a sapphire crystal caseback. Like the facelift that Royal Oak’s permanent members underwent earlier this year, the polished bevels are wider and the increased taper of the bracelet gives the watch a slimmer profile.
Although the 37mm model’s diameter qualifies it as a jumbo, it shares some features with the 39mm jumbo, including price! One, the dial is adorned with a signature A short garment A guilloché pattern but chosen in a very vivid plum color. To ensure a homogeneous long-lasting color by chemical vapor deposition (CVD), the dial incorporates the bathtub-shaped original markers from 1972 in white gold and royal oak hands with luminescent coating. The Audemars Piguet signature and minute track are printed in white, and the aperture at 6 o’clock reveals the titanium flying tourbillon cage.
Developed over five years, the extra-thin flying tourbillon movement – caliber 2968 – powering the 39mm and 37mm models is a technical achievement. AP’s technical team had to rethink the construction to reduce the thickness of the flying tourbillon, a problem previously reserved for 41 mm diameters. One of the solutions was to fit a tourbillon cage with a peripheral drive. The peripheral drive allowed the tourbillon to reduce in thickness to fit in a slim 8.1 mm case, while improving energy efficiency. Another change is the increase in amplitude of the oscillator. To enhance the sight of the flying tourbillon, the geometry and position of the balance wheel arms have been modified and the tourbillon has been positioned at dial level.
The caseback reveals the openworked bridges and rotor of the automatic 2968 caliber. The movement is based on the new 7121 caliber equipped with an extended power reserve and ball-bearing mounted rotor inside the automatic Jumbo 16202. With 226 parts and 33 jewels, it measures 29.6mm across and is just 3.4mm tall (just 0.2mm taller than a straight automatic). Like any other Royal Oak 50Th-The anniversary watches feature a 22k pink gold rhodium-plated rotor with a special “50 Years” logo. From 2023, the dedicated anniversary rotor will disappear. Hand-decorated movement parts have a more modern line-cut (Features Tires) Finishes on the mainplate and bridges, traditional Côtes de Genève are in place.
Availability & Price
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-thin RD#3 37mm in stainless steel, reference 26660ST.OO.1356ST.01, not limited edition. It may be small, but it comes with a ‘jumbo’ price tag CHF 165,400.
For more information, please contact audemarspiguet.com.