How The Audemars Piguet Millenary Minute Repeater Has The Blues
Thanks to the slew of popular sports watches based on Audemars Piguet’s evergreen Royal Oak that appear on the market every year, it should come as no surprise that the Audemars Piguet Millenary line often gets overlooked.
While on an intellectual level, the reasoning is understandable, on an emotional level it remains a bit of a riddle.
The dynamic Millenary, which first appeared in 1995 with its oval case shape and architectural dial formation, has always been a line that appeals to our artistic sensibilities.
Outfitted with a melodic repeater, this latest addition to Audemars Piguet’s elegant family ups an already very high technical ante.
I am, of course, referring to its escapement with that poker allusion, which is a proprietary construction based on the principles of French horologist Robert Robin. This direct-impulse escapement, which was first introduced in 2009, beats at a fast 43,200 vph (6 Hz). It now contains a double balance spring, which ensures automatic compensation of potential poising errors.
The direct impulse and double balance spring basically make the escapement more efficient and precise. While almost all other non-lubricated escapement styles contain components crafted in new materials such as LIGA and silicon, this one proudly utilizes only traditional materials.
Creator Giulio Papi confirms that APRP uses nickel-phosphorus LIGA-manufactured components in the prototyping phase, but that the final components are traditionally stamped and then finely polished and finished to achieve the desired angles and degree of fineness.
It is the new geometry of the components that actually negates the friction and allows them function perfectly without lubrication. “To increase frequency speed, there are two problems: lubrication and the inertia of the components, specifically the escape wheel, Papi has told me. “Our escapement doesn’t need lubrication because it works without friction – an important point to understand – for which reason it can use traditional materials without lubrication.”
Papi also confirms that his company continues to experiment with escapements and faster frequencies. “For 43,200 vph we can still use steel, but if we want to increase the speed we need a lighter material – if only to decrease the inertia,” he explains. “We are looking for a strong and light material to make an escapement wheel for higher speed.”
Meanwhile, we very much enjoy this charismatically designed minute repeater, whose gong encircling the movement has been blued for an added touch of that which makes the horological heart beat faster.
For more information, please visit www.audemarspiguet.com/en/watch-collection/millenary.
Case: 47 x 42 mm, rose gold
Movement: manually wound Caliber 2928 with direct-impulse escapement
Functions: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds; minute repeater