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Watches really are miniature works of art. Some collectors value the craft and innovation of the mechanisms. Others appreciate the aesthetics of the design or the quality of the materials used. And every now and then there’s a timepiece that combines all of these attributes to create an object that is simply beautiful on the inside and out.
Audemars Piguet’s three new, smaller-sized Millenary timepieces, introduced at Dubai Watch Week in November, includes one of those rare wow watches: an 18k pink gold timepiece with an off-center, white opal dial designed in collaboration with the jewelry designer Carolina Bucci.
The original Millenary collection debuted in 1995 and was named in anticipation of the year 2000 and the new Millennium. Its now instantly recognizable ovoid look was inspired by contemporary design, architecture, and art.
In 2015, the line was re-imagined with some subtle tweaks, starting with updated, fantastically finished, Manufacture movements. All Millenaries showcase these lavishly detailed mechanisms with a skeletonized dial and glare-proof, sapphire case back.
And technically, all Millenaries are gender neutral, but Bucci’s take is definitely tailored to the tastes of woman watch aficionados. First off it is smaller with a 19-jewel hand-wound, caliber 5201 housed inside a case with a width of 32.74 mm and thickness of 4.16 mm. The movement also has a 49-hour power reserve and the watch is water-resistant to 20 m.
Then there are the materials. This timepiece marks the first time an opal dial has been used in the Millenary collection. Any gem setter will tell you how difficult it is to cut an opal (a very soft stone) thin enough to be used as a dial while still maintaining the fire and play of light of the gem. The craft involved is a natural wonder in itself.
A dial this opulent deserves a great setting. Originally used on the Frosted Gold Royal Oak that Bucci created for Audemars Piguet in 2017, this watch features a shimmering finish created by using a modern spin on the ancient Italian Florentine technique. This surface treatment process is achieved by beating the gold with a diamond tipped pneumatic tool to make tiny indentations on the surface that leave a “diamond dust” effect.
This play of textures and materials is further complemented by its bracelet. One small criticism of the previous generation of female-centric Millenaries is that they were a little fussy for women who wanted an everyday watch. The Frosted Gold Millenary comes with a hammered blue rubber strap with 18k pink gold pin buckle, which adds an elegant yet less blingy look.
Additional alligator straps in light blue and black are also available.
The Millenary is made even more versatile with Audemars Piguet’s new line of interchangeable straps. They come in a vast variety of easily swappable finished, patterns and colors (you can experiment with variations online).
While you won’t have to wait until the next Millennium to get this watch, you’ll have to ring in the new year first. The Audemars Piguet Frosted Gold Millenary will be available in 2018.
Price available upon request; audemarspiguet.com.