The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is an icon born in 1972 from the pencil of a certain Gerald Genta. It was notable for several reasons – it was the world’s first luxury sports watch, it was imposing, yet impressively thin and, despite being the most expensive watch of its type on the market, it was available only in stainless steel. Collectors had to wait until 1977 to see this mini-masterpiece dressed in precious metal (an idea that for long has been rather antinomic with the whole Royal Oak concept). For SIHH 2017 and, to mark the 40th anniversary of the first precious metal Royal Oaks, Audemars Piguet introduces a new series of the splendid Royal Oak Extra Thin Ref. 15202 in yellow gold.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra Thin – known under the reference 15202 – is no stranger to the world of watch aficionados. In 2012 a 40th anniversary model was released and it is the closest to the original 1972 version designed by Genta. This 15202 is the “Jumbo”, meaning that it shares the same 39mm case as the 1972 version, has the same kind of “Petite Tapisserie” dial (still hand guilloche and made with great care), the same super-thin profile and, impressively, the same base movement, meaning the calibre 2121 (although the current execution is finished to a much higher standard than in the past and, as a result, it is now visible under the sapphire caseback). For the 2012 version, Audemars Piguet even returned to the original style of the dial, with the AP logo placed at 6. Overall, it is a superb watch, faithful to the original version. Up until now, it was only available in two options: the classical (yet faithful) stainless steel with blue dial version, and a rose gold with blue dial version.
As I mentioned earlier it was only in 1977 that Audemars Piguet introduced precious metal versions of the Royal Oak (for instance A-Series gold watches were made from 1977 to 1980). These featured yellow gold cases and were offered with 2 dial variations: dark grey and champagne. Not surprisingly, the gold versions are considered to be much rarer than the steel versions. Later, some two-tone (steel and yellow gold) options were also introduced. To mark the 40th anniversary of the first precious metal Royal Oaks, Audemars Piguet has decided once again to use their new favorite material on the Royal Oak Extra Thin 15202: yellow gold. Last year, at SIHH 2016, the brand came with several watches in yellow gold, heralding something of a come-back for this arguably outdated material, as explained by the CEO of the brand in our video interview.
What we have here are two new editions of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra Thin 15202. The first option features a classic dark blue dial with matching hands and indexes. The second option is a full gold version, with champagne / gold dial and gold hands and indexes – which is historically faithful with some editions of the vintage 5402. On both versions, the AP logo is placed where it should, meaning at 6 and the date is printed on a disc matching the color of the dial. Speaking of the dial, these models see a return of the refined and perfectly executed “Petite Tapisserie” guilloche pattern, critical to the iconic look of the Royal Oak Extra Thin.
In terms of case, no changes apart from the use of 18k yellow gold of course. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra Thin Yellow Gold still measures 39mm in diameter and 8.1mm in thickness. The “tank tread” bracelet is identical to the other 15202 versions. In terms of movement, these new yellow gold models are equipped with the renowned ultra-thin selfwinding Manufacture caliber 2121, first introduced half a century ago. This 3.05mm thick engine is perfectly decorated, as you can see through the sapphire crystal. Only the time (hours and minutes) and the date are displayed, as in the early Royal Oak models.
Price: US$ 55,400. More details will be given in our follow up hands-on article. audemarspiguet.com.
Specifications of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra Thin Yellow Gold
- Case: 39mm diameter x 8.1mm thick – 18k yellow gold – sapphire crystal on the front and the back – 50m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre 2121 – ultra-thin (3.05mm) automatic movement with central rotor – 40h power reserve – 2.75Hz / 19,800 vibrations /h – hours, minutes and date
- Dial: “Petite Tapisserie” hand guilloche dial – available in champagne / yellow gold or in dark blue
- Bracelet: integrated 18k yellow gold bracelet with folding clasp
- Reference: 15202BA.OO.1240BA.01 (blue dial) 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02 (yellow-gold dial)