Openwork 25668BA Audemars Piguet Quantième Perpétuel
We all know the three neo-vintage QPs that brought watchmaking back from the dead, but the pair of openwork or skeletonized references from AP and VC have always stood a bit apart, out of the spotlight. They’re not just less often seen, they’re divisive. Perhaps they skirt too close to the edge or horological pornography or perhaps they’re just the Daft Punk of the watch world: brilliant but faceless. It may have been the height of AP as the non-Royal Oak company. But given the immense effort in finishing required, 422 examples in total were created of the openworked QP over two references and tens years, about 40 per year across all metals. There are 107 25558s and 205 25668s, with just 94 of these 25668s in yellow gold (the 25668 is the exhibition back, the one I’d want).
VC’s 43032 has the edge on rarity. But this 25668 has history on its side. AP were first back from the dead, it was the reference 5548 that resurrected Swiss mechanical watchmaking as an art form with the 5548 in 1978. The story behind the development of the calibre 2120/2800 is outrageous. In short, a team of 3 senior watchmakers at AP (Michel Rochat, Jean-Daniel Golay, and Wilfred Berney) developed this perpetual calendar movement in secret during evening hours after clocking out, as the team didn’t think the management brass would approve of the spend required to develop this movement at the height of quartz uncertainty. What resulted was the thinnest self-wound perpetual calibre ever (7.5mm) that went on to establish AP’s reputation in watchmaking for decades to come and was a complete passion project from a crack Skunkworks team. Necessity is absolutely the mother of invention.
This calibre was the success that brought AP, and most of Switzerland, back from the dead; not the Royal Oak. AP could stand to do more with this all time great today, its just been left to the history books. Its insane development story and triumphant history are perhaps why I still hold it in higher regard than competitors, even though I adore the VC’s lugs. Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but the second of anything can never be as memorable or impressive as the OG. Except wine, where as we all know second cheapest is always best.
This example sports a light to moderate degree of surface wear and full lugs. The clasp is still included and the case dates to ’93. I see no egregious bashes, just the signs of normal daily wear. That is how I personally like these things. It comes with its full set from a well-regarded Dubai retailer.