Audemars Piguet Star Wheel
 

The Audemars Piguet Star Wheel uses a very unconventional method of time indication. Three transparent sapphire disks, or star wheels, are each inscribed with four hour indicators and attached to a rotating center wheel. As the assembly turns, the current hour indicator is rotated into view and then passed across a 120-degree minutes sector. The time is read by noting the visible hour pointing to the current minute.

Since the early 1990s, Audemars Piguet has made several different Star Wheel models.

Antecedents

The "wandering hour" dial first appeared in the 17th century. The epicycloidal system was first employed by the Campani brothers of Rome, who used it in their clocks. In the 1920s and 1930s Breguet sold wandering hour watches with a system patented by Robert Cart around 1925. The pocket watch shown below is from the 2001 Antiquorum Geneva auction "The Sandberg Watch Collection" with a description taken from the auction catalog:

ChronosBreguet, Etablissement Mixte, circa 1820. Very fine and rare 18 ct. gold eight-day going 'wandering hour' watch.

Case: Four-body, 'Empire', engine-turned back cover, fluted band, gilt spring-loaded cuvette. Case stamped inside back cover 'PHPI, 6237' and with later French gold marks, cuvette signed 'Etablissement mixte, Breguet'. Diameter: 61 mm. Dial: White enamel a segment with minute divisions and Arabic numerals set in the top of a gold mask engraved with the figure of Chronos, wandering Arabic blued-steel hour numerals passing through the minute segment window, pointing to the correct minute. Dial engraved 'Breguet et Fils'. Movement: 54.4 mm, gilt brass, unusual bridge calibre, 6 jewels, free-standing barrel, cylinder escapement, plain three-arm gold balance, flat balance spring, balance and escape wheel jewelled, free-standing barrel, third and fourth wheels in skeletonised steel bridge.

Published in the Sandberg book (Terence Camerer Cuss, The Sandberg Watch Collection, Antiquorum Publishers), page 196-197.

Star Wheel Wristwatch

The original Star Wheel wristwatch (Ref. 25720) was made in the early 1990s. While not a limited edition, it saw limited production. There are two dial variations, one with a barleycorn guilloché and one engraved with an arabesque pattern. The display back shows the 21K gold-rimmed rotor of the automatic-winding AP cal. 2124, which is based on the Jaeger-LeCoultre cal. 888. Basic specifications are 26.0 mm, 33 jewels, and 21,600 bph. Case diameter is 36 mm.

John Schaeffer Star Wheel

In the mid-to-late 1990s Audemars Piguet made the John Schaeffer Star Wheels. In addition to the Star Wheel display, these cushion-shaped watches were minute repeaters. They were issued as limited editions of 5 in yellow gold, 25 in pink gold, and 10 in platinum.

The movement is the manual-winding AP cal. 2267 with basic specifications of 9-3/4''' and 32 jewels. There were two types of dials, one with a full display (Ref. 25881?) and one with a crescent-shaped aperture (Ref. 25797). The case is 33 mm wide and has a display back.

In 2003 this movement was also seen in the round Jules Audemars case and a dial with a vertical pattern of Geneva waves.

Extra-slim Star Wheel Pocket Watch

In 1992, Audemars Piguet made the Extra-slim Star Wheel Pocket Watch. Cased in 18k yellow gold, it housed the 16''' AP cal. 5020 movement with a guilloché dial.

Star Wheel Two Faces Pocket Watch

The Star Wheel Two Faces Pocket Watch has indications on both sides of the case. On one side conventional hands displays hours, minutes and small seconds at 6; on the reverse side a star wheel displays month and date.

There are three unique pieces, Ref. 125040 (18k pink gold), Ref. 125050 (18k pink gold with diamonds on the dial, bezel, and loop), and Ref. 125060 (18k pink gold with black dial and diamonds on the dial, bezel, and loop).

There is also the Star Wheel Two Faces Millenary Pocket Watch, Ref. 25913, a limited edition of 25 pieces in platinum, issued in 2000 to commemorate the 125th Anniversary.

The movement of these pocket watches is the AP cal. 5026/2813.

Star Wheel Millenary

The Star Wheel Millenary (Ref. 25898) was created in 2000 to commemorate Audemars Piguet's 125th anniversary in 2000. The oval-shaped watch is a limited edition, with 50 pieces in yellow gold, 75 in pink gold, and 125 in stainless steel.

The automatic-winding movement is the AP cal. 2224/2811, based on the JLC cal. 889/2. Basic specifications are 26.0 mm, 35 jewels, and 28,800 bph. The back is solid with "Serie Limitee 125 Ans" engraved.

Others

Urwerk, a member of the AHCI, uses a similar mechanism employing two disks to display time across a 180-degree arc.

References

Images are from Antiquorum, Audemars Piguet, and Urwerk.

Copyright © 2001-2004
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