A combination of icons
In the late ‘70s, 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 George 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.
A few years later, the manufacture chose to combine this innovative movement with their iconic Royal Oak cases. In 1983, they released the reference 5554, which is also designated as the reference 25554. This reference 25654 was introduced in a subsequent iteration of the concept, featuring the same parred back aesthetic as the original design. Only 800 examples of the reference 25654 were produced between 1983 and 1998, limited to just 422 in yellow gold.
At the time, the combination of the sporty, Royal Oak case and complicated perpetual calendar movement was an unusual, forward-thinking approach by the brand, combining luxury with one of its most utilitarian pieces. In recent years, the Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel has since been the canvas on which Audemars Piguet have experimented and redefined its perpetual calendars, introducing various unique interpretations. This reference 25654 represents one of the first steps in this ongoing legacy.
This gold, Ref. 25654BA example features a lightly-textured golden dial with black indicators and blued subsidiary hands. The layout of the dial includes all the traditional indications of a perpetual calendar: day, date, astronomical moon (with graduation for moon age), and month. The piece also features original gold stick hands, a characteristic rarely found in Royal Oak watches. The sub-dials are slightly recessed, giving the dial greater depth and texture. Additionally, the dial displays the "Audemars Piguet" signature in small lettering, which is only found on the earlier examples of the 25654 reference, before the brand adopted its modern signature style.
The gold case and bracelet are excellently finished, with chamfered, beveled and polished edges - striking the perfect balance between utilitarian function and elegant design. The polished screws, bezel and case edges provide a distinct contrast with the brushed surface of the case and bracelet. The watch possesses its original unsigned crown, white gold clasp and clasp cover with the correct "AP" signature.
At 39mm in diameter, and only 9.3mm thick, the Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel case is a beautiful twist of perspectives and size. On the reverse, the outer-case back correctly displays the unique serial number (C-55XXX), along with its sequential case number (5XX). The reference 25654BA is housed in a 39mm case, like the original 5402 '"Jumbo" from 1972.
This Quantième Perpetuel Automatique is powered by the Caliber 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.
The ultra-thin automatic 2120/2 calibre features 38 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. The movement remains the thinnest full-rotor self-winding movement in the world, considered by many as one of the most technically refined wrist-watch movements ever made.
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