In the snow and rain of Le Brassus, at the aptly titled Hotel des Horlogers, Audemars Piguet unveiled a totally new escapement on which the company's watchmakers have been working for more than six years. Based on a 1791 Robert Robin escapement design, which was never truly realized, this new patented escapement uses direct impulsion (instead of the indirect impulse of the traditional Swiss lever escapement), where the energy is transmitted directly from the escapement to the balance, thereby reducing energy loss. In addition, it has two (yes, two) hairsprings, promises greater precision, the option of increased frequency or a longer power reserve and complete resistance to shock. Add to this the fact that the escapement needs absolutely no lubricating oils for its operation and you can see why the watchmakers at Audemars Piguet are excited.
The new escapement is debuting in the brand's newest model in the Tradition d'Excellence collection, Cabinet No. 5. Audemars Piguet plans to incorporate the new escapement into all its watches in the future, according to Georges-Henri Meylan, CEO of Audemars Piguet. “But we are starting step by step,” he says. “We are still making tests on the escapement, so it might be a few years before you see it in our full range.”
AP's Tradition of Excellence Cabinet No. 5 is a Millenary Perpetual Calendar with deadbeat seconds and power reserve indication, a limited edition of 20 pieces. The watch features a platinum 47mm case, 323 components, 42 rubies and a seven day power reserve. The frequency of this new watch will be 21,600, though the new escapement has been tested up to 43,000 and the test units have been functioning without oil for two and a half years.
The two hairsprings are offset at 180 degrees to provide optimal balance, better regulation, easy adjustment, improved stability and greater precision.
“We strive to do something special, something different, to improve watchmaking,” Meylan explains. “Using no oil is a big step forward, because the overhaul of mechanical watches is an ever-increasing cost to the end user. This is not to say that our watches with the new escapement won't need an overhaul, but it will be less involved. In addition, our fans want us to innovate and this gives people something to get excited about and something to talk about.”
The folks at Audemars Piguet are justifiably proud of this development in watchmaking. “This new escapement is the result of hours and days and years of passionate work all stemming from a love of watchmaking,” Meylan adds. “If it was easy, this revolutionary new development would have been invented years ago.”
Features of the Audemars Piguet new escapement include:
Lubricant Free — the design and geometry of the escapement means that it never requires lubrication.Detached single-beat escapement — resulting in high efficiency. Direct impulsion — energy is transmitted directly from the escapement to the balance, with no need for a lever, thereby reducing energy loss. Excellent shock resistance — the design guards against tripping and overbanking. Optimal long term stability. Improved chronometry