Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Ref. 25654BA, Quantieme Perpetual, Yellow Gold

£124,500
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This Quantième Perpetuel reference 25654 represents an effort by Audemars Piguet to combine one of their most innovative movements and disruptive designs from the 20th century. In combination, their ultra-thin, automatic perpetual calendar and angular Royal Oak helped the manufacture weather the aftermath of the Quartz Crisis, making this combination as striking as it is historically important.

ORIGINS OF THE QUANTIÈME PERPÉTUEL

In the late 1970s, complicated wristwatches were exceedingly rare.

The Quartz Crisis had decimated the watchmaking industry, with the number of watchmakers in Switzerland having dropped from 1,600 to 600. Against all odds, three watchmakers at Audemars Piguet decided to develop the world’s thinnest automatic perpetual calendar movement. The project was carried out in secret, with the manufacture’s upper management completely unaware of what was going on. The watchmakers worked in their free time, often meeting at night to discuss their work.

In 1977, they surprised Georges Golay, the CEO of Audemars Piguet at the time, with the finished calibre. A risk taker who’d already released the Royal Oak a few years prior, Golay was confident that the manufacture could successfully commercialise the automatic perpetual calendar. When it was launched in 1978, the Quantième Perpetuel was the world’s thinnest automatic perpetual calendar. To put things in perspective, in 1984, only 1,066 perpetual calendars were produced in Switzerland. Of those, Audemars Piguet made 675.