25668PT Audemars Piguet Quantième Perpétual Openwork
The 90s are in. I’m not a judge of fashion, or indeed style. But I did hear someone say hella in my grocery store self-checkout last week and thought I’d entered some Doctor Who time-based joke. But I hadn’t. Nowhere is this more true than watches, where the 90s and early 2000s are just entering peak collectability. In fact, neo-vintage is being applied to just about anything that can loosely fit the definition. I have a neo-vintage Sony Walkman hanging around come corner my mother’s place if anyone wants to pay 20x over retail for that too. In the mean time, Ben over at Watch Brothers London, who’s kind of the best, has you covered with a much less reasonable but far more beautiful proposition. And it pretty much invented the term: first of the modern era of mechanical watchmaking.
We often cite the 3940, 43041, and 5548 as the trio that returned haute mechanical watchmaking to preeminence. But in truth, AP really did the heavy lifting, well before the other two. This was thanks to Michel Rochat, Daniel Golay, and Wilfred Berney who developed the mind-blowing calibre 2120/2800 in secret, without AP’s consent, in late hours, out of love for the art. The openwork 25668 (skeletonized 25661) was produced from 1988-1993 after the original had already seen significant success, designed by Jacqueline Dimier, but in tiny numbers. When I say tiny, we’re talking just 79 in this platinum case. I like to think of the 25668 as a victory lap from Usain Bolt: AP started first, raced hard, finished first, and knew how to celebrate properly. And unlike VC’s skeletonized offering, the pushers sit recessed in its case, so the wrist view is unmarred.
A few weeks ago, AP unveiled the most technical, complicated watch they’ve ever made in the 11.59 RD4. Basically, if you can think of the complication easily, it’s in there. I call it the 12.01 though, because to my eye, deeply impressive as it is, it missed the mark entirely.
Watchmaking prowess isn’t proven by jamming as many complications as you can into a case that looks like Jean-Luc Picard developed a fetish for Gerald Genta. You prove prowess by creating a watch people love. A watch people can buy and wear. A watch like this did for AP in 1988. It’s not one man’s doing, but I quite look forward to what’s to come post Bennahmias AP next year. Until then, buy my Walkman, buy this, and have a hella good time.
This one has a full case with deep hallmarks, little surface wear. Lugs are KFC crispy. It comes with an Extract of Archive, 2021 service paperwork from AP, platinum pin buckle, and a blue AP strap from a well-regarded London retailer.
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