A different face to Audemars Piguet
In 1875, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet founded the watchmaking manufacture Audemars Piguet in Le Brassus, Vallée de Joux. Since then, the brand has become synonymous with aesthetic refinement, mechanical craft and historic lineage. Alongside Patek Philipe and Vacheron Constantin, it is considered to be part of the "Holy Trinity" of horology, which comprises the finest Swiss manufacturers. Though Audemars Piguet is probably most widely recognised for introducing the Royal Oak in 1972, their contribution to watchmaking is far greater.
This ultra-thin, two hand ref. 5381 speaks to the manufacture's sense of refinement. Its white gold case features a distinctive hobnail bezel, paired with a lightly brushed silver dial. Rather interestingly, it is powered by the Caliber 2121, which is derived from the mythical Jaeger-LeCoultre 920. This was the thinnest automatic movement in the world when it came out in 1967, and was used in the original Royal Oak, having also been adopted by Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
A Classic Design
The white gold case of this Audemars Piguet ref. 5381 features a range of subtle, yet thoughtful, details. The hobnail pattern on the bezel brings an added touch of complexity to an otherwise pared back design. This generates a range of different effects when it interacts with the light from various angles, whilst also adding to the watch's visual presence on the wrist. At 33.5mm in diameter, with 39mm lug to lug, the proportions of this piece are perfectly balanced, helping it fulfil its role as a classic dress watch. The straight lugs, as well as the relatively large 18mm lug width, help the watch feel larger on the wrist than its dimensions would otherwise suggest. With a thickness of around 8mm, it also hugs the wrist, in a way that is both comfortable and elegant.
The case also integrates a few details which imbue this piece with a vintage aesthetic, such as the domed crystal. The screw-down caseback also has a notched design, which is reminiscent of many mid-century pieces. The white gold hallmarks, found on the outside of the caseback, remain crisp and deep. On the inside of the caseback, you can find further engravings, including the maker's hallmark for Spillman of La Chaux-de-Fonds, a famed casemaker who also produced cases for some of the earliest Rolex Daytona's, amongst others.
The silver dial features a subtle brushed pattern, which adds further texture to the design. Perhaps one of the most appealing details of this piece is the contrast between the "Audemars Piguet" and "Automatic" signatures - one is austere and timeless, whilst the other is much more playful and expressive. These are thoughtfully balanced, both in layout and aesthetics. A date disc at 3 o'clock adds a further touch of functionality to this piece.
This Audemars Piguet is powered by the Caliber 2121, which is based on the Jaeger LeCoultre 920. This movement was developed by Jaeger LeCoultre in 1967, having been adopted by Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
The ultra-thin automatic 2121 calibre features 36 working jewels, a Gyromax balance and four ruby wheels to support the full-diameter rotor, which runs on a beryllium rail for stability. The rotor is decorated with Geneva stripes and edged with 21-carat gold, to increase the oscillating mass.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Audemars Piguet ref. 5381 will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.