It's nearly three years since I had the unexpected and very rare honour of being able to photograph one of the most elusive, beautiful, and horologically significant timepieces of the century.
I refer, of course, to the somewhat pompously-titled Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Watch With Audemars Piguet Escapement...
This absolutely gorgeous creature landed inside my light tent under very odd circumstances, recounted here. The watch you see above is a prototype that had been living on the wrist of its creator, Fabrice Deschanel (of Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi) for some two years, although the watch had only been announced some two months prior to my encounter with it.
For the life of me I can't remember what case material was used for this prototype - possibly white gold. But the most significant thing about this watch is the fact that it was the very first to use AP's in-house modified Robin escapement at the extremely high beat rate of 43,200vph, with no lubrication.
Well, blow me down with a feather if a similar thing didn't happen last week. There I was at the AP booth in SIHH, photographing the new releases. I decided to ask my rep whether she had anything "really special" to show me. Possibly misinterpreting my request, she disappeared for a few minutes, and came back....with this....
Omigod omigod omigod.... it's the production version of the Audemars Piguet Audemars Jules Audemars Watch with Audemars Piguet Audemars Escapement...in rose gold.
And I thought the white metal version was beautiful. This thing is more than beautiful. It's heartbreaking.
You've already noticed by now that a gently spiralling brushed treatment has replaced the Clous de Paris finishing of the dial-side movement bridge, which if memory serves correctly, is now made from ruthenium.
Other substantive changes include register dials in black, and hands in gold instead of blued steel.
Holding the watch up to your ear, you can hear the thrillingly rapid little clacketty-clacketty-clack of the small escape wheel, beating its heart out twelve times per second -
The rose gold/brushed ruthenium treatment is repeated on the watch's obverse face -
...with a particularly unusual finishing effect on the twin barrel covers, which gives the impression that they are concave, or perhaps toroidally concave (is there such a term?) -
Here, for comparison, is the prototype from '09 which had quite a different treatment for its barrel covers -
I really loved the Clous de Paris finishings on the proto, but dammit, I really love the brushed ruthenium on this production version. AP had better not dare bring out a white-metal version with the previous finish reinstated - I will be utterly unable to decide which one I can't afford to buy!
I tend to state this a lot on blogs...but this really is one of the most beautiful watches I have ever seen.
And so, having completed my photos, I emulated Stanley in Pinter's The Birthday Party as he receives his birthday present of a toy drum and gingerly, tenderly asks: "Shall I hang it around my neck?"...
...by turning to the charming Aphrodite (yes, that was her name) and asking: "Shall I strap it on my wrist?"
And then I handed it back, Aphrodite walked out of the room, and the watch was gone. The pain, the pain.
Yes, the Audemars Piguet Audemars Jules Audemars Watch Audemars With Audemars Piguet Audemars Escapement Audemars is truly a magnificent timepiece. What a shame about that unwieldy name though...why couldn't they have just called it something simple, like "Kevin"?