The art of gem setting Audemars Piguet goes next-level beauty with latest line of timepieces

Inspired by Marvel's most technologically-advanced nation, Wakanda, Audemars Piguet created the Black Panther edition of the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon, which was a conversation piece when launched earlier this year.

After a superhero titanium model, the Swiss watchmaker however didn’t go after the powerful Infinity Stones but searched for earthly gemstones instead to decorate a new series of the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon presented in a 38.5mm white or pink gold case.

Haute horlogerie meets haute joaillerie in the dazzling timepieces, which particularly showcase the art of gemsetting carried out at the independent and family-owned company, founded in 1875 in Le Brassus, in the Vallée de Joux.

Audemars Piguet’s avant-garde haute horlogerie is expressed by the Royal Oak Concept, launched in 2002 to mark the 30th anniversary of the iconic Royal Oak.

For almost two decades, the Royal Oak Concept has been a platform for leveraging advanced technologies and ancestral craftsmanship in creating futuristic timepieces.

The art of gem setting involves techniques that ensure that the precious stones light up each model in its own unique way.

The art of gem setting  Audemars Piguet goes next-level beauty with latest line of timepieces

A pink-gold version adorned with 208 baguette-cut graded blue sapphires.

For the six new versions of the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon, finding the right stones, colours and contrasts was a crucial step in the design of each piece and no easy task for timepieces set with as many as 468 brilliant- or 208 baguette-cut graded gems.

Moreover, 12 different types of gemstones, including rubies, tsavorites, emeralds, topaz, tanzanites, and amethysts, have been meticulously chosen for a smooth and colourful gradation in two models with a rainbow effect.

The progressing shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple also bring out the geometry of the case and bezel, reflecting light to create an optical experience akin to that of a rainbow.

The precious stones have been individually cut and polished to achieve the desired shape and size before being set in gold by the jewellers, who are challenged by the diminutive size of the design and movement components.

For instance, baguette-cut sapphires in 144 different sizes precisely match the curves of the case and the architecture of the dial and movement components. The quality of the cut is as important as the inherent quality and clarity. Each baguette needs to be flawless with no visible inclusion by the naked eye while its lines and stepped facets have to be perfectly symmetrical and aligned.

Reaching a smooth gradation between the blue hues is another challenge. Once combined, the baguette-cut sapphires give a certain edge to the piece, while further enhancing the movement’s 3D effect and play of light.

The art of gem setting  Audemars Piguet goes next-level beauty with latest line of timepieces

Baguette-cut multicoloured gemstones light up the bezel of this white-gold version.

Invisible gemsetting is another painstaking task requiring 150 hours of work for each timepiece. Tiny grooves are delicately incised in the stones, which are then meticulously snapped one by one into a hidden rail mounted in the gold component, giving the impression that they are holding on their own.

The demanding work extends to the small and feather-like flying tourbillon, which shimmers with brilliant-cut gemstones while compensating for the effect of gravity in enhancing accuracy. The mechanism makes its rotation at 6 o’clock on the dials, whose faceted pyramids are further paved with blue sapphires, diamonds or rainbow-coloured gemstones,

Visible at 11 o’clock, the hand-wound movement’s openworked barrel gives a rare glimpse of the coiled mainspring — the power source, which assures a minimum of 77 hours in precise timekeeping.

Audemars Piguet has released four models of the high-jewellery Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon series, and the two other variations set with baguette-cut sapphires will be available in 2022.

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