With all the dazzling watches the independents throw at us, one would almost forget how creative the old maison’s are! And what better example is there then the Audemars Piguet Star Wheel? It was in 1989 that this watch was first introduced. Back then still in a classical round case, with the time indication on the top. This proved to be the founding father of a collection which would later include the John Schaeffer Star Wheel (with minute repeater) and perhaps the most famous of them all; the Millenary Star Wheel.
The Audemars Piguet Millenary Star Wheel 125th Anniversary Limited Edition
We were fortunate enough to get an up-close-and-personal with a watch we can only refer to as the star of the Millenary Star Wheel collection: a pink gold 125 anniversary model. The greatness of this watch is that it combines everything that makes Audemars Piguet and the Star Wheel so desirable. When you first lay eyes upon this model there is no doubt about it that this is a very exclusive watch. Audemars Piguet’s sense of style is clearly visible in a color combination that is daring, but also breathtaking. Pink gold and a grey dial make for a warm eye catcher that is neither overly sporty nor distinctively dressy. This is even more amplified by the stunning strap made from sanded stingray.
The Star Wheel complication also works very well with the Millenary case. This original case shape hasn’t always been the success for Audemars Piguet that it is today. The reason for that is that it simply doesn’t work for every type of watch. A time-only with date tends to look slightly odd in this case, while the perpetual calendar can only be described as a solid home-run, just as the more recent Millenary 4101 we showed you. But even those watches must make room when this Star Wheel comes into play. The dial is perfectly balanced; you have the time indication on the right side, the Star Wheel spectacle in the middle, and the Audemars Piguet name on the left. Strangely, this is all it takes to give you the impression that the watch is symmetrical, while literally speaking that is of course not the case.
The 125th Anniversary Star Wheel comes with a closed case back that, when removed, would show Audemars Piguet Caliber 2224/2811. This movement is actually based on Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 889. A beautiful and reliable movement that Audemars Piguet also used as a base movement for their Royal Oak Offshore chronographs before they developed their own in-house base. The closed case back doesn’t, however, prevent us from seeing the part of the movement that gave the Star Wheel its name. This part is visible in plain sight, dead center under each of the 3 sapphire disks. It is those star shaped gears that play a key part in positioning the right number on the right disk at exactly the right time.
The star wheels of the Star Wheel
The Star Wheel has always been a rare watch, and also the 125th Anniversary Star Wheel was a very limited edition. Not as you might expect 125 of each color of gold, but 125 pieces total! This number was strangely divided over 50 pieces in yellow gold with a white dial, and 75 pieces in pink gold with the grey dial, as we have here. There was also a separate limited edition of 125 pieces in steel, where Audemars Piguet unfortunately felt the need to adorn the blue dial with a couple of random stars. As if the stars under the sapphire dials aren’t enough proof why this model is called the Star Wheel.
In the end we cannot conclude anything else then that this Star Wheel is a landmark piece. Not only for Audemars Piguet but for the entire community. It also proves that one doesn’t have to be an independent to make innovative watches in both design as well as technical approach. And the most beautiful Star Wheel to prove all this, has to be this one!