Millenary hand-wound Minute Repeater
with Audemars Piguet escapement
The Watch Quote™ - December 3rd, 2010
The audible indication of the time, initially created to “tell” the time in the dark in an age when electricity had not yet been invented, is the oldest of all horological complications. Audemars Piguet has made it part of its fundamental identity, by creating minute repeater and grand strike models right from the time of its founding in 1875. The new Millenary Minute Repeater model is in direct line with this tradition. This exceptional watch with its oval case and three-dimensional architecture reveals the essentials of its refined movement: a new AP escapement, a double balance-spring, as well as the striking mechanism and its gongs. The result is a genuine visual delight.
Perpetuating a line of exceptional watches
Drawing upon the time-honoured know-how cultivated by Audemars Piguet, the new Millenary Minute Repeater is enriching a classic and sculptural collection that already includes such exceptional models as the Tradition d’Excellence N°5, MC12, Deadbeat Seconds and Carbon One watches. Endowed with hours, minutes, seconds and minute repeater functions and equipped with a winding system specially developed for its hand-wound Calibre 2910, the Millenary Minute Repeater – like its illustrious forerunners – is a concentrated blend of expertise, technical sophistication and innovative materials. Its titanium oval case provides an atypical stage-setting for a truly magnificent sight featuring offset gold subdials inviting the observer to plunge into the mechanism’s deepest secrets. The AP escapement, the double balance-spring, as well as the hammers and the striking gongs, all become the key players of a truly three-dimensional creation.
The striking mechanism is the oldest of all complications. As early as the 15th century, certain pocket-watches already sounded the hours in passing, whereas quarter-repeating mechanisms striking the hours and quarters on demand appeared in the late 17th century. These watches endowed with a mechanical memory and which initially served to tell the time in the dark are now one of the greatest demonstrations of horological expertise, and the exclusive preserve of a few rare movement manufacturers.
A complication inscribed in the brand genes
At the time of its founding in 1875, Audemars PIguet already made minute repeater and Grande Sonnerie (or grand strike) models. As time went by, it added other complications, such as a perpetual calendar and a chronograph, as well as a power-reserve indication in 1885. The experience thus acquired enabled it to make the first minute repeater wristwatch in 1892. This masterpiece of miniaturisation lastingly inscribed this complication in the brand’s genes, to the extent that in the late 1980s, when there was no more research on these models that had sadly fallen into oblivion, Audemars Piguet became one of the first manufacturers to revive this genre.
1892, Audemars Piguet creates the first minute repeater wristwatch.
The new Millenary Minute Repeater is entirely in line with this longstanding tradition, while adopting the latest technological breakthroughs developed by Audemars Piguet, starting with the new AP escapement. As an essential component in the smooth running of a watch, the escapement serves to sequence the linear energy transmitted by the barrel. Drawing inspiration from a mechanism created in the late 18th century by a watchmaker named Robin, Audemars Piguet developed a new escapement combining the high efficiency of a direct-impulse escapement with the reliability of a Swiss lever escapement. The watchmakers in Le Brassus thereby succeeded in reducing the energy losses and in eliminating the need to lubricate the pallet-stones. This groundbreaking technical development in turn enhanced rating accuracy, long-term stability and shock-resistance.
A sophisticated device
Conceived, developed and produced by Audemars Piguet, the new hand-wound Calibre 2910 driving the Millenary Minute Repeater is also distinguished by the atypical construction of the regulating organ. The latter is composed, not of one balance-spring, but of two balance-springs placed top to tail. This flat opposite-facing double balance-spring system boasts numerous advantages: it ensures automatic compensation for potential poising flaws; eliminates the need for the “overcoil” terminal curves of so-called “Breguet-type” balance-springs, which are always very tricky to make; and also does away with the imprecision resulting from the vertical position of the watch without needing to resort to such a sophisticated device as the tourbillon. All these special features serve to ensure finer adjustment of the balance-and-spring assembly oscillating at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour.
The two movement barrels guarantee an exceptional seven-day power reserve. A third barrel dedicated to the striking mechanism is two and a half times larger than normal, and enhances the regularity of the note. Finally, in terms of security, the Millenary Minute Repeater is equipped with a balance-stop system designed to ensuring time-setting that is accurate to the nearest second. The new winding system also features a security device that prevents time-setting while the striking mechanism is in operation, thus avoiding any risk of inappropriate handling.
Dynamic three-dimensional architecture
Such refined mechanical features naturally deserved to be matched by equally excellent finishing. The oval-shaped Millenary case in brushed titanium – a material featuring exceptional resonance qualities – is framed by a polished titanium bezel. The various organs within are barely concealed by the anthracite grey hours and minutes subdial offset at 3 o’clock, and by the small seconds at 7 o’clock. Particular care has been lavished on the hand-polished bevelling, on the interior angles and on the concentric circular-grained motif. The movement is also adorned by a horizontal Côtes de Genève. This wealth of details is visible both from the top and through the transparent caseback, which together serve to highlight a particularly dynamic three-dimensional architecture.
Through its impressive combination of performances and technological accomplishments, the Audemars Piguet Millenary Minute Repeater makes a decisive new contribution to the history of this collection.