First Frost

Audemars Piguet puts a cool new spin on an age-old material.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Audemars Piguet puts a cool new spin on an age-old material. 

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“Women will go insane,” Audemars Piguet CEO Francois-Henry Bennahmias prophesied of the brand’s new Royal Oak collection during an interview with us last year, months before the range was announced.

Hyperbole aside, he may well be right. Recently launched in Florence to mark the 40th anniversary of the women’s Royal Oak, the Royal Oak Frosted Gold watches feature subtly sparkling, textured cases, and bracelets created using a process rooted in an ancient gold-hammering technique. This traditional process, known as the Florentine technique, has been adapted by jewellery designer Carolina Bucci; she has used it to create subtly dazzling accessories for years.

Bucci’s collaboration with Audemars Piguet in creating the Royal Oak Frosted Gold range marks the first time this technique has been used on watches. It took months of experimentation between Bucci’s Florentine artisans and the watch manufacture’s experts to work out how to apply this surface finishing to the Royal Oak case and bracelet in a sufficiently refined manner that would maintain the watch’s clean lines and the supple feel of the bracelet

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Gold Frosted watches are available in 37mm (automatic movement) or 33mm (quartz) sizes, and in white or pink gold. According to Bennahmias, these new timepieces will be produced in relatively small quantities, and will be available soon after the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), which takes place this month. Added the CEO, with his charming flair for drama: “I’m confident that they will all be sold by the end of March. I can sign this in my blood.”