Monochrome Watches
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The Panda Royal Oak Chronograph 41mm Frosted Gold That Only Japan Can Get (For Now)

Two frosted gold chronographs with the latest facelift and latest-generation movement join the 50th-anniversary party of the Royal Oak.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 4 min read |
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm Frosted Gold Japan-Only Edition - yellow gold 26240BA.GG.1324BA.01

Far from a radical transformation to mark its 50th anniversary, the design evolutions practised on the Royal Oak Selfwinding time-and-date and Selfwinding Chronograph models are subtle, perpetuating the spirit of Gerald Genta’s epic 1972 Royal Oak. Its commanding octagonal bezel with eight exposed hexagonal screws, its tonneau-shaped case, integrated bracelet, and tapisserie guilloché dial are so sacrosanct and embedded in the identity of the Royal Oak that nobody in their right mind would think of substituting them. Two 41mm Selfwinding Chronographs join the 50th-anniversary party with attractive frosted gold cases and Audemars Piguet’s latest-generation integrated flyback chronograph movement, calibre 4401. From May to July 2022, the Frosted Gold Royal Oak Chronograph 41mm will be sold exclusively in Japan; in August 2022, they will be available worldwide.

Hammered gold cases

The cases of these 41mm Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronographs are crafted in 18k white or yellow gold with a spectacular frosted finish. Frosted gold, also known as a Florentine finish, was introduced to AP by Italian jewellery designer Carolina Bucci. Commissioned by AP to create something special to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the women’s Royal Oak, a model that Jacqueline Dimier revisited in 1976, Bucci took her hammer to the surface of the watch and created a sensation. Using a diamond-tipped tool, the artisan hammers delicately at the case and bracelet to produce tiny indentations that sparkle like diamond dust. However, the alluring texture that looks like it has been covered with frost soon found its way into larger models starting with Royal Oak Frosted Gold 41mm of 2017 and followed by a more daring version like this wild purple RO Chronograph.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm Frosted Gold Japan-Only Edition - yellow gold 26240BA.GG.1324BA.01

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One of the key design evolutions of the Royal Oak time-and-date and chronographs regards the enlarged and polished bevels, or chamfers, that can be appreciated on the sloping sides of the bezel on the dial and caseback. Given the grainy frosted finishing of these models, the contrast with the bright polished bevel really stands out. Not only is the contrast evident, but the chamfers also refine and attenuate the dimensions visually, giving the 12.4mm thick case a more slender profile. Incidentally, the sapphire caseback has also undergone modifications to improve its integration with the case and to sit more comfortably on the wrist.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm Frosted Gold Japan-Only Edition - yellow gold 26240BA.GG.1324BA.01

Similar to the non-frosted 41mm Selfwinding Chronographs introduced for the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak, the crown and pushers are screw-locked, and the water-resistance is 50 metres. Another upgrade to the collection is the more pronounced taper of the integrated bracelet. The first links of the gold hammered bracelet, where the case and bracelet meet, are now trapezoid when viewed from the side and reveal a more pronounced decrease in thickness before the links start to taper. The links are also thinner and lighter for more comfort.

Panda dials

Although the changes are invisible to most of us at first glance, beady-eyed RO fans will notice that the hour markers and hands are now harmonised across the Royal Oak Selfwinding time-and-date and chronograph models.If you compare them to the white frosted gold Selfwinding Chronograph of 2021, you will start to notice the subtle differences. A key design feature of the new models is the incorporation of a 24k gold Audemars Piguet signature, replacing the applied AP monograph and printed text of earlier collections. The new, more elegant signature results from a chemical process known as galvanic growth, a feature used on Code 11.59 and applied by hand to the dial. Naturally, the iconic Grande Tapisserie guilloché pattern is used to decorate the dial and is picked out in a tone to match the yellow or white gold case. Also worth noting is the date wheel that matches the colour of the dial.

Thanks to their contrasting panda-style chronograph counters, these frosted gold models have slightly different dials than the other 41mm Selfwinding Chronographs. Both the white and yellow gold models have black counters, and their interiors are snailed. The applied gold hour markers and Royal Oak hands are treated with luminescent coating.

Calibre 4401

Initially presented in the Code 11.59 collection of 2019, calibre 4401 is AP’s in-house automatic integrated flyback chronograph movement. Unlike a standard chronograph, a flyback allows you to stop, reset and start the chronograph in one simple action. Reviewed in detail in this article, the movement features a column wheel and vertical clutch and delivers a robust power reserve of 70 hours. The decoration can be seen from the sapphire caseback, and although the solid gold rotor does not have the commemorative ’50 Years’ logo, it is openworked, revealing the Côtes de Genève, the circular graining and circular satin and polished chamfers.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm Frosted Gold Japan-Only Edition - yellow gold 26240BA.GG.1324BA.01

Availability & Price

The Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm in yellow gold (ref. 26240BA.GG.1324BA.01) and in white gold (ref. 26240BC.GG.1324BC.01) will be sold exclusively in Japan from May to July 2022. From August 2022, they will be available worldwide. The retail price is EUR 75,100.

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