Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 7 April 2015
Sold for HK$ 1,562,500
Since I remember the SIHH launch of the Royal Oak Carbon Concept as clearly as if it were yesterday, it seems difficult to believe that it was actually ten years ago. At the time, the use of carbon and carbon fibre in watchmaking was just establishing itself as a “trend” – although, since then, this ultra-strong, lightweight product that was once the domain of Formula 1 race teams and spacecraft builders has become almost passé.
All the same, the Carbon Concept remains something special because, instead of merely incorporating a sliver of carbon fibre on the dial or for the odd detail, it broke new ground by using forged carbon for both its case and parts of its movement, notably the mainplate which also served as an element of the dial.
Featuring a tourbillon, a chronograph and 10 days of power provided by twin spring barrels, the watch borrowed the linear indications previously seen on the original 2002 Royal Oak concept watch.
But, while forged carbon has great tensile strength, it’s not entirely suitable for a watch case as it can be damaged relatively easily by impact – which implies this example has seen little use, since it appeared to be in great condition. If it’s kept this way, it will only rise in value.
Simon de Burton