I have heard it said that art may have no other purpose than itself. I find this a useful mnemonic to delineate what I consider artful approaches in our sphere of horology. A 2446 Big Eye Autavia is beautiful, but in this light it is not art. That is a watch which was created to measure lap times of a 917 around Le Mans (not actually, but that’s where it wound up). The base steel Royal Oak comes closer, however that is an object of design and luxury, still intended to display the time for its lucky owner. However, when one removes the main dial surface and finishes every single component within an inch of its life? There is no practical purpose in that effort. One does not perform this action to tell the time accurately or sell more units. There is no other reason to display the movement in such spectacular style other than to elevate the Royal Oak Quantième Perpetual to something of an art form.
This watch represents a confluence of archetypal AP influence. The manufacture because synonymous with the perpetual calendar after that complication resurrected the brand (in the ref. 5548) and much of Swiss industry as a mechanical bastion of luxury post quartz crisis. The ultra-thin movement three senior watchmakers within AP (Michel Rochat, Daniel Golay, and Wilfred Berney) developed would serve as a basis for this latter sporting variant, housed in a rose gold take on the iconic Royal Oak shape. This 25820-based case is still the 39mm variant, which was overtaken in 2015 by a larger, slightly more ungainly proportion.
AP also have made openworked skeletonization something of a party piece, as if I needed to explain that after one look at this thing. To contrast that effort on this QP, they have created sapphire dial and specialized blackened gold hands. Visible components have been given an extra level of finish, reserved for these highest of high purposes. The movement is still the JLC 920-derived calibre, but with all the standard AP work to make it their own. This is one of the most technically advanced ultra-thin calibres every to have been successfully produced at scale. The full-diameter rotor on this example is also decorated, skeletonized more than standard, but with an extra gold edge to make up for the lack of weight in its centre. It also runs a beryllium rail for durability (cool, no?). That small detail is emblematic of the entire effort on display here. This watch is a celebration of mechanical artistry, packaged in familiar form, and hewn from materials most suited to their job. Whether art or just an exceptional QP, I’ll leave you to make up your own mind.
This example is certainly something of a safe queen. I see no surface wear. The all-important brushed bracelet appears quite clear of any substantial marks. It comes with a full set including including its wind box and extract from a very reputable retailer in the upper echelon of horology.
Find this Openworked QP here from Xupes listed as POA.