|Power reserve||80 h|
|Number of jewels||34|
|Case diameter||44 mm|
This just might be the ultimate chronograph AP hasn't placed a serious focus on the chronograph in recent years – with the Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher that all changes.
The Laptimer takes the concept of a split-second chronograph and goes considerably further, all with the express purpose of mechanical excellence inspired by the racetrack. Let's examine what the Laptimer and its incredible AP caliber 2923 can do.
In a traditional split-seconds chronograph, or rattrapante, when the split-second push piece is pressed, one hand stops, allowing the reading of intermediate time, while the second hand keeps going. By again pressing the split-second push piece, the first hand will be re-synchronized with the second and both will continue the timing. This new AP Laptimer, however, features a single chronograph driving two central hands, which can be controlled independently via three pushpieces – the first at the conventional two o’clock position to start and stop the chronograph; the second at the four o’clock position to reset the chronograph; and the all-important third pushpiece at the nine o’clock position.
When you press that third button, you will stop one of the two simultaneously running hands and reset the other. That means you can record the time of one lap, while the other one begins. If you want to keep the first lap as a reference, you press the button at four o'clock, which acts as a flyback – meaning the running seconds will jump back to zero and start over while leaving the first lap where it is. Or, if you press the button at 9 o'clock again, the stopped hand will jump to zero and start running (timing a new lap) while the other hand will pause for you to record your time.
Finally, you may also use the two seconds hands together as a standard chronograph with flyback.
The Laptimer Michael Schumacher is the very first mechanical chronograph with alternating consecutive lap timing and flyback functionality, and this is all made possible by a downright nasty new caliber from AP. Caliber 2923 is the product of over five years worth of work and features no less than three column wheels. One column wheel, located at the six o’clock position, controls the chronograph sequence, while the two at the 12 o’clock position control the complex laptimer sequence.
The gear train is driven by two mainspring barrels set in parallel, which provide extended power reserve – and, to ensure smooth operation, the watch features specially developed conical gear teeth that mesh seamlessly and accurately at all points in the movement’s cycle for a perfectly linear torque transmission. A new oscillating wheel coupling mechanism has been developed for jerk-free action when the chronograph is stopped or started. Further, AP's watchmakers were forced to use solid lubricants due to the unusually long and slim components of the watch – traditional lubricants would not have worked in this case.
The caliber 2923 beats at 4 Hz, is at 15 1/4 ligne in diameter and 12.70 mm thick, holds 413 components (34 jewels), and has an amazing power reserve of 80 hours. Finally, this caliber is finished to nines with a maillechort mainplate and central bridge, circular grained and blackened, blackened titanium upper-bridge, blackened balance-wheel bridge, black polished steel column-wheels, linear-grained and sandblasted steel levers, linear-grained steel springs and beveled and linear-grained bridges. The caliber is absolutely stunning.
This incredible caliber is placed into the AP Concept case – 44 mm in forged carbon – with titanium bezel, case edges, and case back. The pushpieces are ceramic and pink gold. Just 221 pieces of the Michael Schumacher Laptimer have been made and we have one of them.