Three new models are being added to the Millenary collection at SIHH next month, with smaller cases and more sparkle than ever. The Millenary is one of three collections from Audemars Piguet that contain ladies’ watches, but essentially, it is the most female-centric of the full collections within the brand. The Royal Oak and the Royal Oak Offshore both have ladies’ versions, but they began as, and are known mainly as men’s collections. The jewelry collections are limited-edition one-offs, certainly not made for everyday wear or pocketbooks. That leaves the Audemars Piguet Millenary, with its distinctive elliptical case and off-center dial.
The white gold bracelet version of the Audemars Piguet Millenary
The Millenary collection, which was launched in 1995, has always been a platform for watchmaking’s metiers d’art, about a decade before the resurgence of these crafts in the rest of the watch world. Gem-setting is a particular strength of the collection differentiating the watches from the sportier Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore ladies’ pieces. At the same time, a partially openworked dial gives the Millenary a technical aspect – a reminder that it comes from one of the foremost makers of mechanical movements. The Millenary, last updated in 2015, will be refreshed with three new models at SIHH next month in Geneva, including two all-gold versions set with diamonds and one gold case version with a strap.
The Frosted Gold case version of the new Audemars Piguet Millenary.
The case on the strap version has a “frosted gold” finish that gives it the look of hand-finished jewelry. Frosted gold is a collaboration between Audemars Piguet and Florentine jewelry designer Carolina Bucci, using a technique known as the Florentine method. It is created by using a diamond-tipped tool to make tiny indentations across the surface, culminating in a shimmering sparkle, like snow. The finish was introduced last year on the ladies’ Royal Oak. On the Millenary, it is applied between polished sections on the stepped bezel and lugs, as well as to areas of the case side. The signature offset sub-dials that record hours, minutes, and seconds are set with opal, a new dial material for this collection. Audemars Piguet also adds a fashion watch element to the strap version. It is available in several colors and textures, including rubber, alligator, textile, or velvet, and a choice of blue, grey, red, pink, light green, or purple.
The rose gold bracelet version of the Audemars Piguet Millenary.
The white or pink gold bracelet versions are fitted with bracelets that, like the frosted finish, have a hand-crafted element that gives the watch a jewelry aesthetic. Audemars Piguet calls it the Polish bracelet because it is produced with a distinctive weave-pattern design making for a more supple-feeling on the wrist. It is constructed by weaving gold threads, much like a Milanese mesh-style bracelet, but with a difference (which according to Audemars Piguet makes it more comfortable to wear). In the Polish bracelet, the gold threads are braided in a right-over-left pattern rather than in the same direction. The result is a bracelet that is more flexible and therefore hugs the wrist like a second skin. This is made more possible by the ability to closely size the bracelet by adding or removing links in 5mm sections. The sub-dials on the bracelet models are mother-of-pearl.
The strap version of the new Audemars Piguet Millenary is available in several colors and textures.
The cases on all three new Millenary watches are scaled down to 39.5mm, making them more wearable than the 45mm pieces in previous models, and a lot more wearable than the 47mm Millenary 4101, a model more intended for a man’s wrist. The new, scaled-down models make the Millenary more purely a ladies’ collection, which is a good move for Audemars Piguet. All three new models contain the manually-wound Caliber 5201, which is reversed to display some of its components on the dial side. Pricing for the new Millenary models will be available in mid-January. audemarspiguet.com
Regardless of the svelte profile though, the gold 15202 is a very heavy watch. This tactile illusion is due, of course to the fact that gold density is nearly 3 times that of stainless steel, lending the assertive wrist presence of a much larger sports watch to one that can otherwise slip easily beneath the cuff of a dress shirt. When you examine the bracelet and case when considering the weight of the gold, the slim profile but strong gold appearance gifts a contrasted personality which works well. It’s secure, but a modern design icon within an old-school material.From that the dial-side, the look and texture of the 15202 is distinctly timeless — like a classic re-issue of the first 5402 in gold. Inside though, defeats another story. It’s an ultra-thin automatic motion measuring 3.05mm thick, and characterized with a unique 2.75Hz (19,800 vibrations per hour), though that marginally lower-than-average alternance isn’t easily visible as the 15202 doesn’t feature a running seconds hand. Contrary to the 5402 that inspired it, the 15202 gets a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback, by the cal. 2121’s 21-carat gold strand is observable, as it glides back and forth about the round railing conducting the circumference of the movement — one of the tricks enabling the 2121’s signature thinness.In complete, the 15202 will probably be available in three versions — the new gold alternatives (yellow gold on champagne yellow, or yellowish gold on blue) combine the existing stainless steel 15202 which was re-introduced back in 2012. While the stainless steel Extra-Thin Jumbo Royal Oak begins at roughly $22,000, people seeking to ‘stay gold’ could expect to part with over double that — $55,000 for its 18-carat gold variants.