As most of you might know, this year the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the most emblematic watch in the collection of the Le Brassus-based watchmaker, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. As such, the brand has been releasing multiple new models to celebrate half a century of the Genta-designed sports watch with an integrated bracelet, including a new version of the Jumbo Extra-Thin with unprecedented movement, the reference 16202. And as you’d expect, knowing the cult status of this watch, auction houses are participating in the celebrations by preparing dedicated sales. In this frame, Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo announces “The Royal Oak 50th”, a thematic sale that will gather some of the most important models ever produced by AP. And this includes some Grande Complications, rare editions and historically important watches such as a Karl Lagerfeld Black PVD coated watch or the earliest 5402ST A-Series ever to come to the auction market.
The Royal Oak 50th auction, to take place in Geneva on May 6th 2022, will be a tightly curated sale that will offer 88 pieces, with rare, complicated, historically important and superbly preserved models.
The Royal Oak 5402ST “A2”
Born in 1972 under the reference 5402ST, the Royal Oak Jumbo was first released in a series of 1,000 pieces known under the code A-series. Part of The Royal Oak 50th auction will be the earliest number reference 5402 to ever appear at auction, a watch with serial number A2, meaning the second Royal Oak ever produced by Audemars Piguet. In addition, the present example was one of the four Royal Oak models presented to the press and public at the opening of the Basel watch fair in 1972. The watch is furthermore complete with its full set of accessories and remains unworn. Phillips announces an estimate of CHF 200,000-400,000, which seems rather conservative knowing the current market and the historical importance of this specific model.
A Karl Lagerfeld Black PVD coated 5402ST A-series
An icon worn by another icon… There’s no other way to describe this famous black watch, which has been seen multiple times on watch and fashion magazines, a watch that somehow started the trend for blackened and customized pieces… And a timepiece that gained even more attention after its owner passed away in 2019.
Part of The Royal Oak 50th sale will be a Karl Lagerfeld black PVD coated Royal Oak Jumbo reference 5402ST. The German creative director, fashion designer, artist, and photographer was often seen wearing black PVD Royal Oak models of different sizes which he would then gift to friends and collaborators. There are multiple period photos showing the designer wearing such a watch. The present model, bought in Italy in early 1974 when Lagerfeld was living there, came back to the market in 1995 and remained in the same collection for over two decades. Note: Phillips explains that “the place of delivery of the watch and amount of wear lead Phillips’ watch specialists to believe that this watch had been the property of Lagerfeld.”
The estimate is conservative due to what we’ve just explained above, at CHF 100,000-200,000.
Royal Oak 25831ST Tourbillon in Stainless steel
Launched in 1997 as part of the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the model, the reference 25831ST was the very first time the Royal Oak was equipped with a tourbillon regulator. It’s mostly noticeable thanks to its off-centred display with date and power reserve indicator, as well as the bold octagonal-shaped tourbillon ring reminiscent of the watch’s bezel. The present example, made of stainless and part of a series of only 25 pieces bears the number 1/25 and is presented with a blue Petite Tapisserie dial.
The estimate of CHF 120,000-240,000 is, once again, likely to be conservative.
Royal Oak 25865ST Grande Complication
Following the introduction of the tourbillon in 1997, Audemars Piguet quickly launched most of the possible complications within the Royal Oak case. As a demonstration of its savoir-faire, AP pushed the concept as far as releasing a so-called Grande Complication, meaning a combination of split-seconds chronograph, perpetual calendar and minute repeater. The present piece, made in stainless with a classic tapisserie blue dial, is a unique piece. Estimate CHF 250,000-500,000.
Royal Oak 25636PT Openwork Perpetual Calendar in platinum
The perpetual calendar is one of Audemars Piguet’s most important complications and, as such, has long been part of the Royal Oak collection. First launched in 1984 with the reference 5554, the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar soon became a must-have in the collection and has been made in multiple different editions. As part of The Royal Oak 50th Auction, Phillips will offer a reference 25636PT, a platinum-cased model that also happens to be one of the earliest variants to feature an openwork dial exposing the QP mechanism underneath. It comes equipped with midnight blue subdials and does not feature a leap year indicator. Only 41 pieces in platinum were made. Estimate CHF 200,000-400,000.
Royal Oak 25829TP Openwork Perpetual Calendar in platinum and tantalum
A slightly more modern version of the watch seen above, the present 25829TP is important for the reason that it shows a classic, yet rare and desirable combination of materials, with a case made of tantalum, highlighted by platinum accents. Produced in 16 examples only, this Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in platinum and tantalum has an openworked movement with leap year indication and comes with intriguing bluish/grey hues. Estimate CHF 120,000-240,000.
Royal Oak 14802PT Jubilee in platinum
In order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet launched in 1992 the so-called Jubilee series of watches, marking the comeback of the Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin after 10 years of absence (since the 5402 was discontinued in the early 1980s). Among the 1,000 pieces made for the 20-year collection, some 700 were encased in steel, 280 in yellow gold and only 20 in platinum. An even lower number of the watches were paired with a so-called blue “Tuscan” dial with specific texture. Estimate CHF 250,000-500,000.
For more details about The Royal Oak 50th auction, please visit phillipswatches.com.