Wednesday in Givrins, Switzerland at the Corinna Schumacher CS Ranch, Audemars Piguet unveiled its latest concept watch: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher. Scroll down to learn more.
In late 2010, F1 legend and Audemars Piguet ambassador Michael Schumacher posed an apparently simple question to the engineers at Audemars Piguet: would it be possible to create a mechanical wristwatch that would make it possible to measure consecutive lap times?
This would be the first time a “brand ambassador” influenced the creation of a brand’s grand complication model and the creation of a completely new movement, at least for Audemars Piguet. The Concept watch took five years from conception to the final prototype, which is the world’s first luxury watch to feature two angular indexing systems on a single chronograph, each with an independent “memory.”
Unlike a split-seconds chronograph, in which both seconds hands run simultaneously until the split-second push-piece is pressed, one hand stops allowing the reading of intermediate time, while the second hand keeps going, the the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher, features a single chronograph driving two central hands which can be controlled independently via three push-pieces. The first sited at the conventional two o’clock position to start and stop the chronograph; the second sited at the four o’clock position to reset the chronograph, and the all-important third push-piece sited at the nine o’clock position.
This third push-piece makes it possible to simultaneously stop either of the two chronograph hands, while returning the other to zero and restarting it — meaning that, while the time of the most recent lap is being noted down, timing of the next lap is already underway. The watch therefore negates the need for two or more hand-held timing devices, streamlining the operation within a single wrist chronograph.
The new Audemars Piguet 2923 calibre will have a pending patent covering its unique functionality using three column wheels. The gear train is driven by two mainspring barrels set in parallel which provide double the usual amount of torque and 80 hours of power reserve and operate at a frequency of 28,800 vph (4 Hz). It will feature a variable-inertia balance wheel, which is capable of recording times down to 1/8 second and, to ensure exceptionally smooth operation, the watch features specially developed conical gear teeth which mesh seamlessly and accurately at all points in the movement’s cycle for a perfectly linear torque transmission. A new oscillating wheel coupling mechanism has been developed for jerk-free action when the chronograph is stopped or started.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher is the world’s first mechanical chronograph with alternating consecutive lap timing and flyback function specifically designed and engineered for continuous action and relentless precision in timing laps on the racetrack. The watch will have a 44-mm case made of forged carbon with titanium bezel, case edges and caseback as well as ceramic and rose-gold pushers. The concept watch will be a limited-edition collection of 221 pieces, in recognition of the number of F1 world championship point-winning races in which Michael Schumacher competed during his career. The timepiece will retail for $229,500 and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each watch will be given to the ICM (Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière).
The Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher will be the second Audemars Piguet chronograph to carry the name of the celebrated driver, the first being the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Michael Schumacher from 2012, which he helped to design and which was produced in an edition of 1,000 units in titanium, 500 in rose gold, and 100 in platinum.