It doesn’t feel that long ago since AP introduced their new Royal Oak reference 16202 and of course there were a few sceptics out there who thought their new calibre may ruin the overall look and feel of the “Jumbo” RO. Not so. A few weeks ago, Audemars Piguet introduced a new white-gold Royal Oak, and it is fair to say it is nothing like the salmon dial version we say a few years ago. Royal Oaks that lack a tapisserie dial always seem to divide opinion, though I seem to prefer them as they offer a certain anomaly that becomes rather sought-after in the years to come. This new white-gold Royal Oak is just that and like its predecessors will also become sought-after.
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 2023 AP Royal Oak Extra-Thin ‘Jumbo’ reference 16202 in white gold is much of the same, which is why it is still so popular and why it is timeless. It is the same iconic and dependable watch it was 49 years ago, albeit with a few tweaks here and there. I think the most interesting fact here is that new reference is the first “Jumbo” that has been made entirely of white gold.
The case on this new platinum 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 bracelet of the Royal Oak is second to none, with a combination of brushed surfaces and polished bevels, it really showcases the excellence of the manufacture. While the AP folding-clasp is easy to use and the bracelet is extremely comfortable, the weight of the watch, as it is solid gold, is something that one would need to get used to.
The Audemars Piguet 16202BC features a blue grain dial –also referred to as “Tuscan” dial – which has been inspired by a model created in 1992 for the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak collection to enrich the platinum reference 14802 and complement the collection’s historical motifs. Audemars Piguet has reworked the texture of the dial of this new reference to offer a finer and brighter grain that plays with the light differently. Obtained using PVD, the blue tone is then covered with a translucent coating that accentuates the relief and brilliance of the dial and evokes the colour of a clear night sky above Le Brassus.
The dial features white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands, that have been treated with luminescent coating, aiding legibility in dim light. The “Audemars Piguet” signature is positioned below noon, while the AP initials are located at 6 o’clock, as “Jumbo” convention dictates.
As mentioned before, the case dimensions remain the same as the 15202, but as you’ll know it’s what is on the inside that has dramatically changed. What AP have done is build an entirely new calibre from the ground up: the calibre 7121, which is larger than the 2121 by 1.2mm and more complicated too by 21 extra components, and even more accurate thanks to the higher frequency of 28,800 vph, but even better – it has a power reserve of 55-hours, some 15 hours more than the 15202. However, another interesting fact is that the 7121 movement is tad thicker than the 2121. The fact the case dimensions remain the same, but the movement has been brought up to 21st century standards is an achievement Audemars Piguet can be proud of.
The Royal Oak Extra Thin in White Gold ref. 16202BC.OO.1240BC.02, with a blue “Tuscan” grained dial, is priced ar £67,300. For more information on this new piece, visit audemarspiguet.com.