Audemars Piguet Rutilated Crystal Inline Tourbillon
in platinum
v.4

Precious and rare, a materials and mechanical landmark piece.

Specifications:

Sometimes, a watch comes along that defies all attempts to categorize it.

A jewelry piece? There are no shiny stones, yet there is definitely something showy about this watch. A technical piece? Tourbillons are universally recognized as a classical grand complication, and the sheer difficulty of cutting and shaping the rutilated mineral crystal for this watch's plates required the adaptation of a cutting process likely unique in the watchmaking field.

"The mineral crystal used for the bottom plate contains inclusions which enhances its innate value."

Yet, if conventional machining techniques were used to cut and form the raw crystal blank, upon encountering an inclusion, the machining edge would too often shatter the crystal, rendering the blank useless.

Adapting machining technology from a completely different field, Audemars Piguet and the geniuses at Renaud and Papi employed an abrasive powder in liquid suspension. The use of this abrasive liquid suspension on natural mineral crystal is a world first for AP and Renaud et Papi.

The process is painstakingly slow and meticulous, abrading only 1mm per hour but yielding extremely high precision, on the order of 1/100ths of a millimetre.

There has been much comment about the "handlebar mustache" of the bridge design. In fact, there is historical inspiration for this.

Galileo Gallilee, the famed mid-16th to mid-17th century renaissance man whose thoughts, theories, and discoveries, are fundamental to 20th century Western science and life, did quite a bit of theorizing and experimentation on the qualities and applications of pendulums, including their possible use as a timekeeping regulator.

In his later life, Galileo lost his sight, and described his conceptualization of a pendulum regulated clock to his son, Vincenzio. Vincenzio in turn committed those ideas to a rough sketch, shown right. That sketch, in turn, served as the inspiration, in 1877, for Eustachio Porcellotti, a Florentine clock-maker, to create the working model (photo, left) of the diagram made by Vincenzo Viviani and Vincenzio Galilee.

Florence - Iron, brass. Height: 325 mm

Source: IMSS webpage

First shown at SIHH Geneva in 2001, only 3 pieces are expected to be completed and available for 2002, each one slightly different, due to the unique patterns and structure of the mineral crystal plate. In a way, each piece is thus a unique piece.

As befits a landmark piece such as this is, the box and accessories are haute de gamme and simply magnificent -


It is rare that a landmark piece is also actually wearable. Often, so much attention is focused on the complication and micro-mechanical wizardry inside the case, it is forgotten that the basic raison d'etre for a wristwatch is to be worn on the wrist, to tell the time.

How does the AP Edward Piguet Rutilated Mineral Crystal Inline Tourbillon actually look on the wrist? 

From its oversized Edward Piguet platinum case with its two godroons to its main plate which can be made of quartz, meteorite, or any mineral crystal with inclusions, it looks just fine, thank you very much!

Audemars Piguet has been going from strength to strength for over the past decade, releasing one technological masterpiece after another. Drawing on a heritage of daring and audacity in design, coupled with a tradition of technical prowess second to none, AP is poised to rise to the very top of the haute horlogerie industry, a position many would argue has already been its rightful place for quite some time.

ThomasM

With special thanks to Curtis Thomson and John Davis, who helped me verify and reference some dim (and erroneous, as it turns out) memories regarding Huygens and the Galilee's.

All photos and diagrams shown are either AP marketing photos or from the private archives of ThePuristS.com, except Vincenzio Galilee's drawing of his father's pendulum clock concept.


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