Last week, and you hardly can have missed it, Audemars Piguet presented a whole new collection of Royal Oak watches celebrating the 50th anniversary of the icon born in 1972. Among a dozen updated models, there was, of course, the brand new Jumbo, the reference 16202, which we’ve extensively reviewed in this article, in its all-time classic stainless steel version. But there’s more to the new Royal Oak Jumbo than just the steel model. In fact, AP has presented 4 different versions, including the one you see here, a bold and loud yellow gold watch with a smoked yellow-gold-toned dial. And I know I still have issues admitting it, but boy does it look cool! So yes, the Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin 16202BA is the latest addition to my “guilty pleasure watch” list.
I know I should be luring after the stainless steel Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin 16202ST, for everything it represents. Because it’s the most faithful version. Because it’s also far more in line with my usual codes of discretion and my personality. Because it will be the most comfortable on the wrist. And, of course, the Royal Oak Jumbo somehow has to be a steel watch with a Petite Tapisserie blue dial. But rules are meant to be broken (those who know AP will certainly see the connection here…) and, for an absolutely unknown reason, I can’t stop looking at this new 18k yellow gold version with its truly special smoked dial, the 16202BA.
I can’t explain the attraction… I simply can’t think of an objective reason for this behaviour of mine, a feeling I know I shouldn’t have. Or maybe I should. This watch is like the girl you want to date but you know, deep down, that you shouldn’t introduce her to your parents. I’m not sure I would wear the yellow gold Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin 16202, but for whatever reason, I want one. Typical guilty pleasure. But as the French author Pascal said “Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ignore” that could be translated in English as “heart does things for reasons that reason cannot understand.”
That being said, and after a way too deep introspection into my personal feelings, let’s talk watches and the striking, oddly attractive Jumbo Extra-Thin 16202BA in yellow gold. Just like the stainless steel version we introduced in this article and video last week, there aren’t many surprises in the new generation Jumbo when it comes to the exterior of the watch. What was true for the steel model is basically true for the gold model too, with a few nuances to be expressed. While you’ll have a hard time spotting the difference between a steel 15202 and a steel 16202, the new generation Royal Oak Jumbo in yellow gold will be spotted in the blink of an eye.
While the second-generation 15202 dates back to 2012, the full 18k yellow gold edition of this watch has been presented later, at the SIHH 2017. The reference 15202BA actually comprised two versions, one with a classic blue dial and the other with a matching gold-toned petite tapisserie dial. And yes, the latter was also one of our all-time favourite editions of the 15202. With the new generation of Royal Oak Jumbo, Audemars Piguet has presented 4 watches, as next to the steel model with blue dial, you’ll find a rose gold version with smoked grey dial, a platinum version with smoked green dial (without tapisserie) and the present watch, an 18k yellow gold version with a stunning, over-demonstrative smoked yellow-gold-toned dial with Petite Tapisserie pattern.
We’ll start with the obvious and what doesn’t really need to be said. Apart from being made of 18k yellow gold, the case and bracelet of this 16202BA is entirely identical to the steel version, and thus also 99% identical to the previous generation 15202. This means the classic proportions, with a 39mm diameter and the same 8.1mm height. Obviously, the octagonal bezel with white gold screws has been retained and everything, specifications-wise, has been kept, from the sapphire crystals on both sides or the 50m water-resistance.
Under the sapphire case-back is the true novelty. After 50 years with the same movement, the Calibre 2121, the Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin gets a modern engine, conceived and manufactured in-house. A slender automatic movement, it is slightly larger and thicker than before, yet this has no impact on the dimensions of the case. Importantly, it now offers a contemporary construction with robustness in mind, and comes with an extended power reserve of 55 hours, despite the fast-beating escapement (4Hz frequency). Also, it finally comes with a quick-set date. The rotor, mounted on ball bearings, is made of 22k gold and, only for this year’s production, shows the “50 years” logo.
What truly matters with the Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin 16202BA is the dial. That fiery, sunset-like gradient dial ranging from yellow gold in the centre to black in the periphery. It is combined with solid gold hands and applied markers (and yes, they are the same as before) and to the classic – dare I say iconic – petite tapisserie engine-turned pattern. The date window also matches the dial’s colour. That incredibly strong, polarizing, oddly attractive smoked colour, which gives this watch an incredible personality. The way the gradient effect plays with the proportions of the watch and how it focalizes the attention to the centre of the dial drastically change the perception of the watch and its shapes. While the previous yellow gold Jumbo was all about uniformity with its tone-on-tone dial, this new one somehow redefines the proportions and shapes of the Royal Oak.
Surely, I’m not expecting this edition to be unanimously accepted and, in a way, it’s a good thing. I will completely understand that you’ll disagree with me on the high level of attractivity of this 16202BA because, after all, it is a true statement piece. I think it was the whole idea of Audemars Piguet with this edition, but the result, if polarizing, certainly creates strong emotions. At least, it does on me… I hate to say it, but I really have something for this watch.
For more details about all the updates (and the similarities) on the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin 16202 collection, please consult our in-depth article with video here.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin Yellow Gold 16202BA is presented as part of the permanent collection and isn’t a limited edition – however production will be limited and availability will be low. It is priced at EUR 68,300 or USD 70,500. For more details, please visit www.audemarspiguet.com.