The word iconic is one of the most overused and abused words in the watch industry, however, I bet everyone agrees that the Royal Oak IS a true design icon. A watch that defined the modern luxury sports watch. In 1972, Audemars Piguet and Gerald Genta created an archetype; match a sporty but clearly expensively crafted steel watch with an integrated steel bracelet and an automatic, ultra-thin movement. Et voilà, there’s the luxury sports watch, an archetype that has never seemed more relevant than today, as demand for such watches is higher, much higher, than availability.
Since this first luxury sports watch was launched in 1972, most major luxury brands have designed watches in the same genre, but the one-and-only Royal Oak remains inimitable! Here are some of the best Royal Oaks you can get in 2019. Let’s rephrase that; here are some the best Royal Oaks listed in the AP collections but be prepared for some of these models to come with a waiting list that stretches into the distant future.
Royal Oak “jumbo” Ultra-thin – 15202ST.OO.1240ST.01
The reference 15202 is the closest recreation of the original 1972 Royal Oak ref. 5402ST. So if we had to name only one, it would be this one, nicknamed Jumbo. This supremely elegant watch is 39mm x 8.1mm. It houses the legendary ultra-thin, self-winding calibre 2121 that is visible through the see-through caseback. Naturally, there is the steel blue dial, but since the relaunch of this icon in 2012, Audemars Piguet introduced a few very good looking variations on this classic.
While there are now eight variations altogether, we selected the best-looking options. Take for instance the stunning boutique-exclusive titanium/platinum and smoked blue dial version presented in 2018 (ref. 15202IP.OO.1240IP.01 – CHF 35,000). Our team members were ready to pull out their credit cards, only to realize it was ‘slightly’ over budget. Or the unapologetically elegant white gold salmon dial version of SIHH 2019 (15202BC.OO.1240BC.01 – CHF 55,700). Again, jumping up and down with enthusiasm, hand reaching for the credit card, and then realizing it’s crafted in white gold and that certainly defines a retail price that is again ‘slightly’ over budget. Or to activate your Midas touch, you can pick the full yellow gold iteration (15202BA.OO.1240BA.02 – CHF 55,700).
Quick Facts: 39mm steel case – water-resistant to 50m – self-winding calibre 2121 – hours, minute and date – steel bracelet with folding buckle – CHF 24,800
Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-thin – 26586IP.OO.1240IP.01
Presented originally as a concept watch (RD#2) at SIHH 2018, the Royal Oak Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar has set a world record as the thinnest perpetual calendar. But beyond the record, it distils the essence of two brand icons, the Royal Oak and the perpetual calendar, into one of the most elegant Audemars Piguet watches ever created. The 41mm case is just 6.1mm thick and is fashioned out of titanium with a platinum bezel and bracelet interlinks. The watch is powered by the self-winding calibre 5133 with perpetual calendar, day/night and astronomical moon indication. This 32mm calibre ticks at the unusual pace of 2.75 Hz and offers a 40h-power reserve. Subtle, elegant with great wrist presence.
Quick Facts: 41mm titanium and platinum case – water-resistant to 20m – self-winding calibre 5133 – perpetual calendar, day/night and moon phase indication – titanium bracelet with platinum links and folding buckle – CHF 140,000
Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Black Ceramic – 26579CE.OO.1225CE.01
A powerful look. Everything feels very precise in this boutique-exclusive edition that is the first all-ceramic Audemars Piguet. The aim by Audemars Piguet was to finish its ceramic case and bracelet to the same standard as that of a steel Royal Oak. Not an easy feat by any means, and one that was only made possible after 600 hours of R&D. The dial comes in a slate grey “grande tapisserie” pattern (a tradition for this icon, made in-house), with white lettering, except for the red 31. Inside is the calibre 5134, an ultra-thin (4.31mm) automatic movement with a perpetual calendar.
Quick Facts: 41mm ceramic case – water-resistant to 20m – self-winding calibre 5134 – perpetual calendar and moon phase indication – ceramic bracelet with folding buckle – CHF 94,300
Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked – 15407ST.OO.1220ST.01
Introduced at SIHH 2016, this bold version of the Royal Oak reveals its inner workings. The movement is an evolution of the AP in-house calibre 3120, a self-winding movement that is normally regulated by one balance wheel. Here, it actually gets a second balance wheel, and the balance staff carries one balance wheel on each side of the movement to enhance accuracy and stability, making this into a ‘double balance wheel’. A feast for the eyes, the movement is completely openworked and superbly hand-finished. It is presented in a 41mm case paired with a bracelet. For more information you can watch our in-depth video with AP’s CEO, Francois-Henry Bennahmias, explaining how the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked was born.
Quick Facts: 41mm steel case – water-resistant to 50m – self-winding calibre 3132 – hours, minutes, seconds, double balance wheel – steel bracelet with folding buckle – CHF 44,300
For more information, please visit www.audemarspiguet.com