The resounding success of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and its sportier sibling, the Royal Oak Offshore, can at times appear to overshadow some of the other delightful horological gems within the brand’s range.
The Millenary was first released in 1995 and eschewed typical circular cases and the octagonal forms popularised by the maison in favour of an oval-shaped case. With the dawning of the third millennium approaching, Audemars Piguet chose the ‘Millenary’ moment.
Initial models were only slightly oval and appeared virtually round. However, buoyed by early success, the company became more adventurous and as time went on the elliptical form became more pronounced with the width becoming significantly greater than the height.
Typical of Audemars Piguet, a maison known for producing complicated watches, it was not long before the company offered Millenary models featuring perpetual calendars, dual-time displays, tourbillons and other complications.
Millenary Selfwinding 4101
Perhaps one of the most interesting iterations of the oval-shaped timepiece, launched in 2012, is the Millenary Selfwinding 4101. The watch showcases the ingenuity of Audemars Piguet, breaking the rules and positioning the balance bridge at 9 o’clock, front of house.
The hour and minutes are positioned off-centre on a small asymmetric dial, incorporating Roman numerals of differing sizes. The small second’s display, presented on a snailed subdial, partially floats above the main plate. The Selfwinding 4101 dispenses with the usual dial of most watches, revealing the reverse of the main plate instead.
Despite the novel, atypical approach adopted by Audemars Piguet, some traditions are still respected. The shape of the main plate follows the contour of the case, conforming to watchmaking etiquette and it is adorned with Côtes de Genève motif.
Millenary Ladies’ models
Ladies have also not been overlooked, with the watch company releasing several feminine models, some of which incorporate gem-set cases.
In January 2015, at the Salon de International de la Haute Horlogerie, Geneva (SIHH), Audemars Piguet released a new Millenary collection for women. This version of the Millenary featured a newly developed in-house, hand-wound movement, the Calibre 5201 with a case measuring 39.5mm x 35.4mm.
At first glance, this new offering appears like a small version of the Selfwinding 4101 but, as well as being hand-wound, it is imbued with feminine design elements such as a crown set with a cabochon, mother-of-pearl dials and gem set cases.