Audemars Piguet, Switzerland’s top watchmaking brand, caused a sensation in the watch industry when it launched the Royal Oak series. Prior to it, luxury watches with stainless steel cases had never appeared in the watch industry. The launch of the Royal Oak series also announced the birth of the first stainless steel luxury watches. The price was no less than that of precious metal models, creating a steel watch. As expensive as a gold watch.
The first Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch from 1972, reference 5402ST
As we all know, the basic material of steel is steel, and steel is smelted from iron. It can be smelted from iron filings by electric furnace steelmaking or electric arc steelmaking, and iron ore can also be smelted in a high-temperature furnace. The pig iron obtained by these methods has high carbon content and many impurities, is very brittle, and cannot be used. It has to be processed again.
The pig iron will be further processed by technologies such as alkaline oxygen blowing. Fill the converter vessel with liquid pig iron at a high temperature, and then blow oxygen into the molten iron with high pressure to heat the mixture to 1,650 degrees Celsius. During this process, impurities in the pig iron are oxidized and turned into gas or slag to be eliminated. After removing the impurities, different types of steel are made according to the composition and use. Among these, only steel that reaches a specific purity can be called a refined steel.
Don’t underestimate these steels used in watches, which are quite difficult to handle. These steels of a certain purity can only be processed with particularly tough tools. Only after complicated pretreatment and fine grinding can the appropriate construction materials be provided for the watch.
A high-quality watch case must pass a high level of manufacturing and post-processing to present a perfect appearance. First of all, the metal strips used for the case are punched out of the basic shape with abrasive tools, and these abrasive tools are individually made according to the shape and size of each case. After the first stamping, the final shape of the case cannot be obtained, and a very complicated multiple stamping process is required. Only the bottom of the case requires up to 10 to 15 stamps to complete.
Then the blank case is further processed into shapes after casting, turning, etc. In order to solve the internal stress caused by this, a heat treatment must be performed after each process to heat the metal to about 1,000 degrees Celsius. After the heat treatment, likewise, the case must be cleaned, deburred and the edges polished with sanding stones.
After the case is formed, the polisher will use his superb skills to remove the processing marks of the case and restore the bright luster of the metal surface. Add a lubricant to the round wheel or sanding belt for sanding. From the first grinding process to the next grinding process, the lubricant used is becoming more and more fine. After two to three fine polishings, polishing, brushing, matte and other treatments are performed according to demand to show the final appearance of the case.
Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak series stainless steel watch needs more technical challenges than ordinary stainless steel watches due to its unique shape and many cutting faces. After the iconic stainless steel octagonal bezel is cut and shaped, it requires 70 manual retouching procedures to polish and polish the eight bevels. The eight platinum screws also need to be polished and polished. The monobloc case requires 44 steps to finish the sanding process after the stamping process.
The process of the integrated strap is more complicated. There are 138 corners of the strap links of different lengths that need to be sanded and polished manually, so that each link achieves a completely symmetrical bevel on the left and right, as well as the visual beauty of polishing and frosting. These exquisite craftsmanship that cost endless effort and ingenuity make each Royal Oak stainless steel watch show a distinctive color, mild but unforgettable. With the angle of light and shadow more refracting mysterious and intelligent light, it is worthy of steel s King’.