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New Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet

Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet proudly unveils its latest research and development breakthrough (RD#3) with the Royal Oak Self-winding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin. The 39 mm stainless steel anniversary model measures 8.1 mm in thickness. Representing the first “Jumbo” in history equipped with a self-winding flying tourbillon, the watch is powered by the Manufacture’s new self-winding ultra-thin flying tourbillon movement, Calibre 2968, measuring just 3.4 mm thick. The piece also boasts a novel combination of traditional and contemporary hand-crafted adornments. Audemars Piguet’s watchmakers have obviously met several technical challenges to bring this timepiece to life. Of course, they also devoted particular attention to aesthetic details and pushed the boundaries of feasibility. A second 37 mm version for slimmer wrists, enriched with a dial of a different hue, will complement this model from September.

The 39 mm Royal Oak Self-winding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin in stainless steel integrates a self-winding flying tourbillon into a “Jumbo” case. Placed at the dial level, the rotating tourbillon cage appears at 6 o’clock.


Calibre 2968 forms the heart of this new innovation. The ultra-thin self-winding flying tourbillon movement took five years to develop. Audemars Piguet’s engineers and watchmakers took on numerous challenges in order to accommodate this complication – previously reserved for 41 mm diameters – into the smaller volume of a “Jumbo”. It is a first for the Manufacture and one of the rare examples in the watch industry as a whole.

Considering the extra-thin nature of the form language, this self-winding flying tourbillon obviously required creative rethinking. Of course, certain components needed repositioning to reduce the thickness required to house this complication. Notably, the tourbillon cage, crafted in titanium, for the first time features a peripheral drive. The combination of these two elements not only makes the distribution of energy to the tourbillon more fluid but also served to lighten and refine this regulating organ.

The Royal Oak features

In order to provide optimum visibility of the tourbillon and the movement, Audemars Piguet engineers completely redesigned the architecture of the mechanism. The Royal Oak Self-winding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin features a new escapement to accentuate the aesthetic details while also revealing part of the movement’s workings. The geometry and positioning of the balance wheel arms changed to make the watch’s beating heart even more perceptible. The technical design of the movement results in the flying tourbillon showing at the dial level, for a greater visual experience.

Royal Oak hand-finishing techniques

The hand decoration of the movement components, visible through the sapphire caseback, combines the dynamism and classicism of V-angles with the modernity of traits tirés. The finish appears on the main plate as well as bridges, and replaces the traditional Côtes de Genève. The open-worked, rhodium-toned bridges offer an unobstructed view, contrasting especially beautifully with the pink-gold-toned colour of certain mechanism elements.

“The Royal Oak continues to evolve and cut through the timeline 50 years after its creation and will do so for the next 50 years and beyond. It remains a platform for both technical and aesthetic development, as demonstrated by the new ultra-thin flying tourbillon making its debut on both the classic 39 mm and the celebrated 37 mm Royal Oak models. The movement architecture was designed to offer a unique view of the smaller cage while showcasing an engaging contrast of hand-finishing techniques throughout. ”

Michael Friedman Head of Complications


Of course, the new RD#3 remains true to the aesthetic codes of the iconic “Jumbo” models. The stainless steel case as well as bracelet feature the collection’s signature satin-brushed and polished hand finishes. A Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 Petite Tapisserie dial obviously pays tribute to the original model. The Manufacture obtains the colour using a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) process. This guarantees a uniform as well as lasting tone across all the dials. Similarly to the 1972 model, this new “Jumbo” reference features bathtub-shaped hour-markers. This includes hands filled with luminescent material to ensure optimal readability in the dark.

Like the minute track, the Audemars Piguet signature is printed in white on the Tapisserie motif. The titanium flying tourbillon cage rotating at 6 o’clock stands out against the blue Tapisserie backdrop to create an airy effect. In contrast to the to the original model, the contemporary version boasts a sapphire caseback, which reveals the new ultra-thin movement and the dedicated oscillating weight.


The Royal Oak Self-winding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin features a central oscillating weight mounted on ball bearings and is equipped with two reversers that ensure bidirectional winding. The timepiece is fitted with the dedicated anniversary open-worked oscillating weight in rhodium-toned 22-carat pink gold. It bears the “50-years” logo as well as the Audemars Piguet signature engraved on its surface. Matching the tones of the stainless steel case and bracelet, it is also adorned with the collection’s trademark polished and satin-brushed finishes.

 Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin


In 1986, Audemars Piguet introduced the world’s first self-winding tourbillon wristwatch. Imagined by Jacqueline Dimier, the design placed the tourbillon escapement on the dial side for the very first time. Calibre 2870 is housed in an ultra-thin case measuring a mere 5.3 mm thick. Its titanium tourbillon cage remains one of the smallest in the world today. Incredibly, it has a diameter of only 7.2 mm. It is also one of the lightest with a weight of only 0.123 grams. This model became known as the Tourbillon Self-winding Ra. This reference to the Egyptian sun god came about because Jacqueline Dimier’s design gave the tiny regulator the appearance of a sun, with its rays spreading across the dial. This complicated wristwatch, of which 401 were produced until 1992, opened up a new avenue for Haute Horlogerie. We are certainly seeing a comeback of prestigious mechanisms including tourbillon watches.

Thirty years after Jacqueline Dimier’s model, the Manufacture, known for its ability to innovate, launched a series of Research and Development models. In 2015, Audemars Piguet revealed its first RD#1 Royal Oak Concept Minute Repeater Supersonnerie prototype at SIHH after eight years of research in partnership with EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne and a panel of experts composed of watchmakers, engineers, musicians and sound specialists. RD#1 marked a significant step forward in terms of acoustic performance, sound amplification and sonic beauty, with the launch of the Supersonnerie mechanism. This system, for which three patents were filed, combines a novel chiming mechanism with an innovative case construction. The commercial Royal Oak Concept Minute Repeater Supersonnerie version followed one year later. It won the “Mechanical Exception Watch Prize” at the 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.

New innovation

In 2019, Audemars Piguet unveiled a new innovation with its 41 mm Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin. They presented the prototype a year earlier at SIHH under the name RD#2. This 6.3 mm-thick calendar watch houses a movement that is only 2.89 mm thick. This made it the world’s thinnest automatic calendar wristwatch of its time. To achieve this feat, the calendar functions usually mounted on three levels were brought together on a single plane. The experts at the Manufacture also developed two patented innovations relating to the integration of the end-of-month cam with the date wheel and the association of the month cam with the month wheel. This marked a turning point in the history of complication watches. The Royal Oak Self-winding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin earned Audemars Piguet the “Aiguille d’Or” award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in November 2019.

This year, the Manufacture’s latest technical advance, the Royal Oak Self-winding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin, obviously follows in the footsteps of previous innovations. This RD#3 timepiece, powered by the new Calibre 2968, combines technical innovation and aesthetic refinement to pay a fine tribute to the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary.

“Born in Le Brassus, raised around the world.”


Royal Oak closeup


Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin (RD#3) // 39 mm

Flying tourbillon, hours, minutes.

Stainless steel case, glare-proofed sapphire crystal and caseback, water-resistant to 50m.
Case thickness: 8.1 mm

Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 dial with Petite Tapisserie pattern, white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating.

Stainless steel bracelet with AP folding clasp.

Selfwinding Calibre 2968
Total diameter 29.6 mm (13 lignes)
Total thickness 3.4 mm
Number of parts 226
Number of jewels 33
Minimum power reserve guaranteed 50 h
Frequency of balance wheel 3 Hz (21,600 vibrations/hour)

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All images © courtesy of Audemars Piguet
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