Model Profile: Audemars Piguet Star Wheel Ref. 25720
Renowned for their uncanny ability to think outside of the box and successfully execute on ideas that many other watchmakers would consider too significant a risk, Audemars Piguet are rightfully heralded for their avant-garde timepieces that challenge horological boundaries. However, while models like the Royal Oak and its cousin, the Royal Oak Concept, immediately come to mind as unique models that challenged the industry's norms when they were launched, there is one AP model that fits the same bill and is still relatively unknown, the Star Wheel ref. 25720. Having directly influenced and inspired modern brands like Urwerk with its unique layout, its place within AP's hallowed halls as yet another trend-setting timepiece is all but secured, and we are lucky enough to have two examples in stock, the 18kt yellow gold ref. 25720BA and the platinum ref. 25720PT.
Launched in 1991, the Audemars Piguet ref. 25720 Star Wheel was rather unconventional for the 1990s, given the seismic shift that occurred with the proliferation of large sports watches, which Audemars Piguet themselves caused by releasing the Royal Oak in the 1970s. Taking inspiration from a rather unlikely and unusual source, as always, AP designed the Star Wheel with the wandering hours complication in mind, which dates back to the late 17th century. This inspiration was executed through the use of three sapphire disks that rotate across the northern-most 120-degree hemisphere of the dial.
The minutes are displayed in black on a white linear track that sits across the upper portion of the dial spanning between where 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock would be on a traditional display. Each sapphire disk passes over this white minute indicator and displays the hour as it passes across. With three different disks, as one disk finishes passing over the minutes track, the next follows with the third in the bottom portion of the dial, thus highlighting the cyclical nature of time in a manner that is representative of how time was initially tracked; the sun's movement across the sky.
The effortlessly luxurious Star Wheel ref. 25720 is produced only in precious metals, in extremely limited quantities, and features a stepped bezel and short lugs with a polished surface across the entirety of its construction. Measuring a svelte 36mm in diameter and a 9mm thickness, the Star Wheel is a classically designed timepiece, in keeping with its most traditional of inspirations. Indeed, this sizing further flies in the face of the prevailing watch designs during the 1990s, going to prove that the Star Wheel was not a timepiece designed for the masses but rather a horologically inclined clientele.
Providing a wealth of fine details to get lost within, the Star Wheel also features a stunningly well-executed guilloche dial that adds a further level of high-end watchmaking to its already mesmerizing display. Offered in silver on the platinum variant and gold on the yellow gold variant, the Star Wheel's dial results in an aesthetic that is rather monochromatic and thus allows its wearer to focus on the finer details. Alongside this stunning guilloche pattern is the all-white minutes track, which is then contrasted entirely by the central mechanics that drives the three sapphire disks.
Powered by the automatic cal. 2224, which is also visible behind the Star Wheel's exhibition caseback, the movement displays hand-finishing throughout, as pleasurably viewable through the Star Wheel's dial. With angling, polishing and sand-blasting throughout, this blend of mechanical textures adds to its already intriguing display, resulting in an utterly captivating timepiece. While one might expect this level of forethought and attention to detail from a member of watchmaking's Holy Trinity, it's always a pleasure to enjoy nonetheless. One of their most unique offerings, the Star Wheel is the physical embodiment of AP's desire to create horological masterpieces whenever possible. With its unusual inspiration and unique design, it has rightfully become one of the most sought-after offerings, and we are proud to have two different examples available at The Keystone, one in platinum and the other in yellow gold.