Instead of talking about a watch a celebrity is merely wearing, this week we thought we’d celebrate a horological masterpiece that pays tribute to a racing legend by rethinking how a driving watch works and looks. Enter: the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher.
In 2010, Schumacher teamed up with Audemars Piguet as a brand ambassador. At the time, he challenged the Swiss manufacture to create a mechanical wristwatch, which would make it possible to measure and record an extended series of consecutive lap times. Schumacher also challenged himself by being hands on during the development of this timepiece, the design of which was finalized before the driver’s life-threatening 2013 ski accident.
And now, five years later, the Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher has arrived.
First of all, this is a total gearhead’s watch—it’s hard to even know where to begin with its complications! The Laptimer Michael Schumacher is the first mechanical chronograph with alternating consecutive lap timing and fly back functionality. Most of the greatness comes from the new Caliber 2923 movement, which features three column wheels and two central hands. They are controlled independently via three pushers: one at the two o’clock position to start and stop the chronograph function; the second is at the four o’clock position to reset the chronograph; and the all-important third push piece is at the nine o’clock position. Push this button twice and the stopped hand will fly back to zero and start timing a new lap while the other hand will pause for you to record your time.
This caliber also houses a double-barreled gear train, which provides an 80-hour power reserve. The mechanism’s specially developed conical gear teeth interconnect for a super smooth linear torque transmission. And an oscillating wheel coupling mechanism has been introduced for smooth action when the chronograph is stopped or started.
One also expects a certain amount of stylistic flair from AP’s concept series, and The Laptimer Michael Schumacher certainly delivers. A skeletonized dial allows you to admire its inner workings while the mechanism is set in the familiar, chunky Concept case, this model is made from forged carbon with a brushed titanium bezel for lightness. The crown and pushers are a mix of black ceramic and rose gold for an elegant finish.
The Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher is limited to 221 pieces and is available at Audemars Piguet boutique locations in New York, Bal Harbour and Las Vegas. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each watch will be given to the ICM: Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière in Paris, a leader in Brain and Spinal Cord research.
This watch is so much more than a celebrity-endorsed timepiece—it is a work of engineering art that might just set a new course for future chronographs. And it is also a fitting tribute to one of the greatest racers of all time.