Launched in 1978, the Quantième Perpétuel was the world’s thinnest automatic perpetual calendar. Created during a time when the watchmaking industry was battling to stay afloat amidst the Quartz Crisis, the Quantième Perpétuel fought against the tides of change to uphold traditional watchmaking techniques.
The early reference 5548 is distinguished by the small “Swiss” signature at the bottom of the dial rather than the later “Swiss Made”, signalling that this watch is part of the earliest watches to leave the manufacture, and the watch has a case number of below 300. Sources note that total production was documented at 2183 pieces, and of those, yellow gold cases were the most widely produced.
The lines of the Quantième Perpetuel were penned by Jacqueline Dimier, who is considered by some as the protégé of the legendary Gérald Genta. The perpetual calendar indications are laid out in an intuitive manner. The date and day are shown at three and nine o’clock respectively, with the months displayed at twelve o’clock. A moonphase indication is placed at six o’clock, with graduations for the moon position just above. The “Audemars Piguet” font is flat and restrained, imbuing this piece with a certain vintage appeal. Later versions of the same reference are known to have a more contemporary font, giving them a distinctively more modern appearance.
As this is one of the earlier examples, the sub-dials are not recessed, enclosed between two thin black strokes, with the 6 o’clock sub-dial in a semi-circle. Meanwhile, the gold stick hands provide excellent legibility against the white background. The case is a double-stepped bezel, with three pushers only very visible when the watch is turned over. At 36mm in diameter and less than 8mm thick, this 5548BA sits comfortably on the wrist. On the reverse of the yellow gold case, the watch features finely-engraved markings, confirming the watch’s individual case number.
The reference 5548 is the first watch to be fitted with the ultra-thin, automatic calibre 2120/2800, derived from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s legendary ultra-thin JLC 920 movement. The Caliber 2120 was an initial project of Jaeger LeCoultre in 1967, funded and contributed by Audemars Piguet, and famous for its adoption by Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Audemars Piguet Quantième Perpétuel will be subject to 20% VAT