Now, just 12 months later, that concept has become reality. In 2016, Audemars Piguet presents an outstanding new wristwatch: the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie, a minute repeater of superior acoustic intensity with a supremely clear, sustained tone. Three new pioneering chiming sound developments have become technological achievements, patented innovations. Presented in a super-light titanium case, this exclusive production timepiece is precision-made to awaken sound. It brings unprecedented acoustic performance, exceptionally refined sound quality and the clear, harmonic tone of traditional pocket-watches to a contemporary minute repeater wristwatch.
That tradition continues through pioneering chiming watches sound study programme, started in 2006, in collaboration with the EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). Today, sound-measurement facilities are installed at the Manufacture, where various amplification methods, such as an anechoic chamber and microphone recordings, assist a dedicated team of watchmakers, artisans, technicians and academics in creating chiming technologies for the future. Restrictions of necessary technology, such as waterproofing, which diffuses sound, are being overcome; acoustic performance is scientifically augmented.
The outcome of the study programme is a new method for pre-preparing the steel used to create the gong structure, to achieve a unique minute repeater sound. A scientific system of performance targets was devised according to material cross-section, length and rigidity. Today, these pre-defined targets anticipate the final performance of the steel used by the watchmaker to make the gongs, assisting him to hone the right pitch, tone, and harmony. The result is a shortened, precision-mastered tuning process and a unique sound.
The Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie presents a newly developed case construction that prevents sound absorption, boosting amplification. In traditional minute repeater technology, the gongs are fixed to the mainplate. In the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie they are attached to a new device, a material spread beneath the movement that acts as a soundboard. Now, the gongs transmit vibrations directly to the soundboard – not to the mainplate. The technology functions like the upper body of a guitar. With the vibration-to-air system improved, sound quality, tone and amplification are richer.
The Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie is not simply a striking watch; it is devised as a musical instrument. In an acoustic guitar, the strings are pulled tightly over the bridge. When plucked, the strings vibrate at a certain frequency and produce a beautiful, tonal sound. This sound is then carried into the body of the guitar – the soundboard – via the bridge. As it travels around the body of the instrument, the sound is amplified. No longer controlled by the player, the sound is freed.
In the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie:-
- The gongs behave like guitar strings
- The hammers are the guitar player’s fingers
- The gong stud is the guitar bridge
- The internal soundboard spread beneath the movement is the body of the guitar
- The sound is amplified, the tone improved
Model: Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie
Hand-wound Manufacture Calibre 2937
Total diameter: 29.90 mm (13 ¼ lignes)
Total thickness: 8.28 mm
Number of jewels: 43
Number of parts: 478
Minimal guaranteed power reserve: 42 h
Frequency of balance wheel: 3 Hz (= 21,600 vibrations/hour)
Minute repeater on two gongs
Chronograph with central sweep-seconds hand
Titanium case, glare-proofed sapphire crystal, titanium bezel, black ceramic screw-locked crown, black ceramic and titanium push-pieces, titanium push-piece guards, water-resistant to 20 m.
Black dial, open-worked, satin-brushed, black counters, white gold hands with luminescent coating, black inner bezel
Black rubber strap with titanium AP folding clasp