Despite what you may have seen in recent months, Audemars Piguet do not just produce the Royal Oak. Their history is peppered with ambitious complications, even through the mid-century when few cared. Moreover, AP were first to bring back the art form of complicated watchmaking after the quartz crisis with the 5548. Three senior watchmakers within AP (Michel Rochat, Daniel Golay, and Wilfred Berney) developed an ultra-thin perpetual calendar movement that would become an icon. They feared executives would not allow spending on development and so spent extra hours in this passion project unasked. Their foresight and determination placed Audemars Piguet in a position of watchmaking prowess when mechanical luxury returned to dominance. This 25661 built on that reputation and was first to proudly display the watchmaker’s efforts through a sapphire back.
Often mistaken for the 25657, this 25661 offers the same second generation’s sunken subdials and was produced three years after the former 25657’s debut. Thanks to excellent record keeping, we know that total production across all metals yielded only 342 examples, with this yellow gold comprising the bulk at 244 watches. Interestingly, there are just 29 pink gold examples of this reference ever produced; a hunt for one braver than I. The enjoyment a simple sapphire back adds cannot be overstated, as the calibre 2120/2800’s 3.95mm height is a monumental achievement. In addition, the 21k gold rotor is decorated beautifully. This watch is archetypal neo-vintage, and collectors are increasingly seeking the original Quantieme Perpetual line as its importance to modern watchmaking is becoming more widely understood.
This example has a full 36mm case with even light surface wear and small evidence of botched strap changing. The dial is clear of fault and the same may be said of both crystals. It comes with original papers and buckle from a well-regarded Singapore based retailer.
Find this 25661 here from D-Timepieces for 32500 USD.