Dive deep into the world of haute horlogerie as we explore the remarkable journey of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Carbon watch, a masterpiece born from a blend of tradition and futuristic vision.
In 1972, Gérald Genta designed one of the most iconic watches of all time: the Royal Oak. The Royal Oak CONCEPT range was born 30 years later, in 2002, to celebrate this exceptional anniversary. This new family quickly stood out from other collections with its innovative and avant-garde character. Even today, Audemars Piguet continues to develop the Concept collection, using it as a platform for experimentation, a testing ground for exceptional limited series, in collaboration with Michael Schumacher or more recently Marvel, for example.
While several creations have marked the history of this collection, one of the most notable to date is reference 26265FO.
This one was born in 2008 and its full name, in the title of this article, will quickly be shortened by collectors around the world to the name "Concept Carbon". Its revolutionary design is immediately identifiable: it takes the original design of the Royal Oak and its octagonal shapes, incorporating a "high-tech" aesthetic, a futuristic display, and innovative materials. Rare variations with a colored stripe have been produced, whether in red, orange, or yellow.
Regularly seen on the wrists of many personalities, such as Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, or Thierry Henry, the Concept Carbon quickly rose to the status of "grail watch" for many watch enthusiasts, both for its look and its technicality.
When you hold the Concept Carbon for the first time, the initial sensation is surprising: it is a very light watch weighing just 100 grams! Contrary to what its 44mm black case and its significant height (18.76mm) suggest, it is a surprising counterpoint that has the advantage of offering real comfort to its wearer.
Despite the use of black ceramic for its bezel, pushers, and signed crown, the other materials involved bring a real lightness to this extraordinary reference: forged carbon, titanium, aluminum...
Already used in other industries such as industrial design or aeronautics, it was the first time that forged carbon was used in the high-end watchmaking sector. An innovation hailed by all industry players for the technical feat of adapting this material to the dimensions of a wristwatch.
The manufacture also developed a center bridge in anodized aluminum, an electrochemical process that provides a surface color, here green, as well as unique anti-corrosion properties.
The transparent sapphire case back allows you to admire the striking contrast of these bright colors and the attention paid to the finish of each component.
As exceptional in its design as in its presentation, the 2895 caliber is a fantastic technical achievement, a true demonstration of know-how and avant-garde. It brings together 384 components for a total diameter of 34.6mm.
The 2895 is built around a system of fast-rotating double barrels offering a staggering power reserve of 10 days. The power reserve display is particularly reliable, as the "real" autonomy of the watch is estimated at 290 hours. The 237 hours mentioned in the official press kit refer to optimal operation, where the mechanism transmits a constant force.
For the bridge part, at the back, the opening at the bottom reveals the column wheel of the chrono, the true beating heart of the mechanism.
From the front, the absence of a dial as such allows you to admire its tourbillon cage, gathering 70 pieces, and its unique inline chronograph, an aesthetic choice that naturally leads us to the next point.
As the different series of the Royal Oak Concept range will prove, the aesthetic choice is always strong and unique. For the first time in Audemars Piguet's history, the chronograph minute counter is presented in the form of a linear display.
At first glance, reading the chronograph minute counter may seem confusing, but it is quite quick to master. When you activate the chrono function, the counter will indicate a countdown for 30 minutes. For this, two vertical scales are visible: the tens of minutes on the left, graduated from 1 to 2, and the "units" of minutes on the right, graduated from 0 to 9. Each of these scales offers square openings, which will change from white to black depending on the indications to be transmitted.
Parallel to the chrono line, at 9 o'clock, the unique design of the tourbillon cage echoes it, always in an atypical linearity for this type of complication. At 12 o'clock, we observe the indicator of the impressive power reserve, which is, remember, more than 10 days!
The bottom of the dial offers an original selection indicator, inspired by the automotive world, offering 3 distinct variants depending on the position of the winding stem:
N for Neutral
H for setting the hour and minutes
R for Winding
Zoom on the selection indicator and corresponding position on the adjustment crown.
Sketch extracted from the Audemars Piguet instruction manual.
Historically, Audemars Piguet has always wanted to go beyond conventional codes and innovate. The Concept collection remains today a reflection of this approach, offering its customers spectacular, futuristic, and exclusive timepieces.
The launch of reference 26265FO truly marked a turning point in the brand's history, propelling it towards a new modern and pioneering positioning, where other historical manufactures have remained more focused on tradition. Beyond its unique aura, the myth of the Concept Carbon is also linked to its exclusive character. A rare watch on the market, its price can easily exceed 200,000 euros.
The Concept Carbon is statutory, it is an object with a revolutionary design, it fascinates both for its conception and its realization: it is a true watchmaking UFO that has a special place, whether in a collection or in the world of High-Horology.
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