Alongside the sophisticated Royal Oak wristwatches, Audemars Piguet unveils a series of highly complicated and technically advanced timepieces for 2023, including the Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT. The latest Concept watch introduces the new cal. 4407, the first serial-production, automatic split-seconds flyback chronograph movement from the Le Brauss maker, and sports a refreshed design both inside and out.
Though the ultra-bold design is the first thing that catches the eye, the defining feature of the new Concept is naturally its high-complication movement. Based on the cal. 4401 that debuted in the Code 11.59 Chronograph, the newest cal. 4407 has been thoroughly re-engineered with impressive new features.
As evident from the back of the watch, the cal. 4407 has been given a split-seconds mechanism that allows the chronograph’s seconds hands to split and measure two elapsed times. A split-seconds mechanism is meant to add height to a movement, and in theory, an automatic watch with a rotor over a split mechanism should add even more height. However, the engineering team at Audemars Piguet optimised the space by locating the split-seconds mechanism within the ball bearing system for the winding rotor, making the two sit flush and reducing height (but it didn’t really work for the large Concept case anyway).
More notably, the cal. 4407 also demonstrates a flyback function, which allows the chronograph seconds hands to reset while in operation. This is a rarity in chronographs, let alone split-seconds chronographs, and is thanks to a patented mechanism for the instantaneous reset.
The cal. 4407 also receives upgrades on the dial side, including a double-digit big date at 12 o’clock and a GMT hand and a day-and-night indicator at 3 o’clock, a common complication in Concept watches.
It’s worth mentioning that the cal. 4407 now includes an overcoil hairspring, which the original cal. 4401 lacked. Although it’s a minor upgrade compared to the complications, the overcoil hairspring demonstrates the watchmaker’s attention to detail and commitment to precision timekeeping.
At the same time, the newest Concept watch features a reimagined case that emphasises geometrical facets and highlights its angular profile. The octagonal bezel remains similar, but the case middle and lugs have stronger lines and more nuanced finishing, giving the watch an upscale look while enhancing its avant-garde feel.
To complement the upgraded case, the dial has been opened up to showcase the mechanics within, with a design reminiscent of a movement bridge. The dial is crafted from a single piece of German silver, cut in a geometric shape, and finished with a black PVD coating and polished bevels.
Over two decades after the Concept line’s debut, Audemars Piguet continues to push the boundaries and occasionally delivers surprises. The latest Concept watch is the most noteworthy since the Laptimer Michael Schumacher, which was an incredibly complicated watch with three column wheels to facilitate different operations for measuring lap times. Despite not being as complex, the most recent Concept watch stands out for its pure, classic appeal in its execution of the chronograph complication, which embodies both split-seconds and flyback functions.
While Audemars Piguet has a rich history of producing fine chronographs, it is not widely recognized as a specialist in this field. Nevertheless, the watchmaker continues to deliver excellent examples, such as this one, that speak volumes about the engineering team’s prowess in creating great chronograph movements.
The good news is that this is only the beginning. Outgoing CEO Mr. Bennahmias has announced that “18 movements are in development across collections,” and the “launch of the new Concept Split-Seconds is part of our ongoing effort to build the future of AP.”
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT
Movement: Cal. 4407; automatic; power reserve 70 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, large date, and splits-seconds flyback chronograph
Case: 43 mm x 17.4 mm; titanium steel; water resistant to 50 m
Strap: Black rubber strap with grey accents and additional rubber strap in black