For 2011 one of Audemars Piguet’s exotic complication pieces will be this Millenary Minute Repeater watch. I was told by Audemars Piguet that their Millenary line is undergoing an overhaul. Looks like 2011 will not be the year we see new Millenary cases and style, but we will see this sophisticated Minute Repeater with another interesting balance wheel and escapement device.
The terminology throws me off a bit. There are terms like “AP Exhaust Pulse Direct.” Not sure what that is, but it sounds like something from a race car, not timepiece. Previous to this new movement, Audemars Piguet Millenary Automatic Replica showed off its AP Escapement. That escapement was really fast, to allow for greater accuracy. The AP Escapement was one that they developed to run at something like 72,000 bpm (amazing). Here in the Millenary Minute Repeater, the movement has slower 21,600 bpm movement, but AP uses one of those trendy new “double balance spring.” These are pretty neat and are supposed to help cancel out error making the movement more accurate. Basically the balance spring attaches at two points (versus the older Breguet over-coil style attachment). If I had larger images I would show you a closeup of the escapement so that you could see what I am talking about.
Double balance springs (also called “double flat spiral here) work pretty well I hear, but I don’t have a quantifiable number as to how much better they are. It is part of a brand new movement which is the Caliber 2910. It mixed that exotic new double balance spring with a minute repeater. Cause you know, having a minute repeater is never not appreciate. AP does however make it clear that the watch is NOT water resistant. Most good minute repeaters aren’t – because sealing a case makes minute repeaters often sound like crap. The watch has a power reserve of 165 hours, which is really long. That is between two barrles. A third barrel is in there for the minute repeater’s power needs. The movement is also neat because it is oval in shape – which I find cool.
The Millenary case here is 47mm wide and in titanium. AP is still on their “light” watch kick. At least it is not in a precious material – that would really harm the sound of minute repeater. Over on the front of the watch is a combo of a real dial and an open movement. The mix is well done from a style perspective. AP designers did a good job at combining a sense of technical sophistication with old world elegance. On the right of the dial the pink gold tones hour makers and hand are traditional and attractive. Moving to the right the dial is more futuristic. This starts with the white and red colors of the subsidiary seconds dial, as well as the open movement and exposed double balance spring style escapement. Great use of contrast by AP right?
Like most contemporary AP watches, the Millenary is a dominating presence on the wrist, with its elongated case stretching all of the way across. At its widest point (what in geometry is called the significant axis of an ellipse) it measures 47 mm, rivaling some of the biggest watches available on the market — think Panerai — but the smaller diameter (minor axis) of the oval, that is the one which possibly provides the maximum discomfort on the wrist, is 42 mm, explaining why it wears far more comfortably than the 47mm big axis would make you think. Every choice Audemars Piguet needed to consider in openworking and redesigning this watch was — I am told — an incredibly demanding one, but it’s clear they’ve stuck to the principle that form must follow, or even operate in the strictest sense of the term, then the requirements ordered by the openworking process. A case in point is that the AP logo; it’s located on the dial of this non-openworked version of this Millenary (the Millenary 4101) but at the openworked version, it’s been placed on the far left — at this logical place given the remainder of the layout it might also have been the emblem’s original place.
The movement design is also interesting because of how elements are arranged. The front of the watch has elements like the minute repeater hammers and gong, as well as the escapement. These elements tends to be reserved for the back of a movement. Last, there is a new security mechanism the prevents the user from setting the time while the minute repeater function is in operation. This would otherwise potentially damage the movement. Details such as this are necessary for fully appreciating the work that went into a piece such as this. Not sure about price or how many will be made. I will learn more soon.
Tech specs from Audemars Piguet:
- Manufacture Caliber 2910
- Hours / minutes to 3 hours off-center, off center at 7 seconds
- Winding stem with 3 positions
- Bolt: repeat triggering minutes 7am
- Movement dimensions (WxH): 37.90 x 32.90 mm
- Casing diameter (WxH): 37.00 x 32.00 mm
- Total height of movement: 10,05 mm
- AP Exhaust Pulse Direct
- Balance with weights varying inertia
- Beam diameter: 11.90 mm
- Double flat spiral
- Power reserve: 165 hours
- Frequency: 21,600 vph (3Hz)
- Number of components: 443 parts
- Ruby: 40 stones
- Finish: hand-decorated all components: bevelling hand, reentrant corners, snailed, haggard, “CÃ´tes de Genève and horizontal graining on the plate
- Oval titanium casing
- Width: 47 mm
- Height: 42 mm
- Sapphire back
- Anthracite dial, gold applied Roman numerals, pink, silver small second counter
- Hand-sewn alligator strap black “large square scales with AP folding clasp in titanium
- Hours and minutes
- Small seconds
- Minute repeater