The tapisserie dial on a Royal Oak is a demonstration of how age-old techniques are still able to produce beautiful pieces of art. The video by Audemars Piguet here shows exactly how they manufacture their Royal Oak dials. An impressive process.

The guillochage work done on the Royal Oak series watches is done by an old but effective technique. This technique combines the use of a burin (a chisel) and a pantograph. A pantograph is a mechanical system that is able to trace and replicate a design but on a larger or smaller scale. It is based on simple mathematics and you may have used something similar in your early school days for tracing artwork.

tapisserieA pantograph machine

On one side of the pantograph is an enlarged version of the dial. On the other side, is the dial itself ready to be carved by the burin. The machine replicates the pattern onto the dial very accurately and usually takes 20 to 50 minutes to complete. Throughout this time you will hear the distinctive ticking of the pantograph tracing and chiselling away.

The dials are actually subcontracted out to the Stern Creations. Sound familiar? Yes, this company is owned by the Stern family who are the current owners of Patek Philippe. The Stern family were actually creating dials before taking over the helms of Patek Philippe. These machines are about 40 years old and were sourced from the USA and Canada. They were reconditioned and the team spent a year improving the machines before they were added to the manufacturing process.

tapisserie2Tracing the larger tapisserie dial

These machines allow Audemars Piguet to produce the “petite” and “grand” tapisserie dials. The “petite” dials have smaller squares on the dial and features on the much coveted Ref. 15202 Jumbo. While the “grand” tapisserie dial with slightly larger squares is used on the more common but equally stunning Ref. 15400. Even though it is labelled “grand”, it is still very small and delicate unlike the larger squares on the dials on the sportier Royal Oak Offshore series. “Petite” or “grand”? They’re both superbly crafted dials that you can spend alot of time looking at. Study the dial through a loupe, and you will start to appreciate the detail and work that has produced these unique dials.