Remember the big watch trend? The days of the 44-48mm watches? It was when 38mm was considered a ‘small’ watch and every true watch guy lamented this unstoppable force. Well, I think 2019 is the year we can truly say that the watch world has moved on and returned to sanity.
Most notably, Audemars Piguet, who gained a lot of popularity in recent times because of their huge Royal Oak Offshores has released a non-Offshore Royal Oak Chronograph, in a 38mm case! Yes you heard that right. Sure, Audemars Piguet literally broke the internet with their Code 11.59 collection, which I think was a bit of a shame as it stole the attention away from some very cool pieces, especially this one.
While this is nothing crazy or new, the Royal Oak chronograph in 38mm comes as quite a surprise as the only previous chronograph model was housed in a 41mm case. It holds the same Calibre 2385, which is based off an F.Piguet 1185 ebauche as the 41 and is essentially the same watch in a smaller size. I would’ve loved to see Audemars Piguet put their new in-house self-winding chronograph movement (calibre 4401) in this but I guess we have to wait till next year at least before we see anything like that. It is about time AP caught up to the others with their own in-house chronograph.
The Ref. 26315S comes in stainless steel and rose gold, with two dial variations on each. My favourite would certainly be the same as most out there- the stainless steel with the dark blue panda-ish dial. The case itself is 11mm thick which is the same as well with the 41mm version so it will be interesting to see the proportionality of this.
I think this move by Audemars Piguet is great and at $23,800 for the stainless steel version, it sits at a very attractive price point, considering how expensive the time only 15202 ‘Jumbos’ are going for these days. I do find the 39mm sizing to be the perfect Royal Oak size, but I have a feeling that doing a chronograph at 38mm, with the extra breadth from the screw down pushers, will achieve a similar level of proportion.
The very reason journalists and collectors are going crazy over a downsize in a watch that is essentially already in production is a testament to how much we want watch sizes to be more proportionate and to come back to normality. Even brands like IWC are releasing smaller watches and to see Audemars Piguet do this is a great step forward for watch lovers.
The new 38mm Royal Oak Chronograph, as mentioned, is available in stainless steel and 18-carat rose-gold, and is priced at $23,800 and $52,700 respectively. For more information, visit the Audemars Piguet website.