Audemars Piguet always seem to be the talk of the town this time of year, for reasons good or bad. That said, for better or worse, the Royal Oak will always be a staple of the AP collection and recently we managed to get our hands on one of the, arguably, most eye-catching Royal Oaks of 2021. We’ve seen many iterations of the Royal Oak over the past few years, but I think it safe to say this is one of the most unapologetic models we’ve seen in recent years.
The Royal Oak is perhaps one of the most distinctive watches around. With its masculine octagonal shape, exposed screws and integrated bracelet, it is easy to recognise from afar. But more importantly, the watch is a legend for pioneering the use of stainless steel in haute horlogerie, thanks to a watch designer, Gerald Genta, who was inspired by the porthole of a naval ship. Though back in 1971 when this inspiration led to the Royal Oak, Mr. Genta wasn’t yet the household name it is today.
The first ever Royal Oak debuted at The Basel Watch Fair back in 1972 and it caused quite a stir. You see, 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. However, that changed in 1977 when the first yellow gold 39 mm Royal Oak became available, bringing a whole new character to what would soon be regarded as an iconic design.
This 2021 AP Royal Oak Extra-Thin ‘Jumbo’ reference 15202 in 18-carat white-gold is much of the same, which is why it is still so popular and also why it is timeless, but this has one sparkling difference. The case on this new white-gold RO ‘Jumbo’ is expectedly excellent and measures the same 39mm in diameter, however, 1.1mm has been added to the case depth to accommodate the sapphire exhibition case back. The Genta designed case and bracelet of the Royal Oak is second to none, with each model incorporating 1,102 brilliant-cut diamonds, showcasing the manufactures gem setting excellence.
This new Audemars Piguet 15202BC.ZZ features the familiar petite tappiserie dial, which is one of my favourite aspects of the Royal Oak and incorporates baguette-cut diamond hour-markers. A light blue dial option is available in a choice of 18-carat pink gold or white gold with colour co-ordinated Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating. The third option pairs a black dial with an 18-carat white gold case and hands. In addition to the brand’s name positioned below noon, an “AP” logo is located in the lower portion of the dial, consistent with “Jumbo” convention.
Powered by the self-winding calibre 2121, which was developed by JLC as the calibre 810, half a century ago, it pays tribute to the original Royal Oak model, embodying the distinctive features and extensive finishing techniques that define the world’s first luxury sports watch. Featuring a bidirectional 22k rotor expertly engraved with the coat of arms for the Audemars and Piguet families, it is finished in true haute horlogerie standards with all edges and screw heads bevelled and polished and the familiar Côtes de Genève on the bridges – providing a power reserve of up to 40 hours.
The AP Royal Oak Extra-Thin Jumbo has an air of timelessness to it, which is by and large because of one defining factor: good design. Good design is timeless, but this element alone isn’t enough. The brand itself also have to believe in the classic nature of the product too – hence its popularity and longevity. This new completely diamond encrusted version is bold, and some might even say ostentatious but for these same reason many will like, me included.
The Royal Oak Extra Thin in 18-carat white or pink-gold ref. 15202BC.ZZ, with either a light blue or black dial, is priced at 139,000 Swiss Francs (excluding VAT). For more information on this new piece, visit the official Audemars Piguet website