It’s hard to talk about luxury sports watches without mentioning the very first Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ref 15202ST “Jumbo”, one of the true icons of haute horlogerie. This year, some 45 years since the lauded watch first appeared in the market and 40 years since its yellow gold variant was introduced, Audemars Piguet launches the Royal Oak Extra-Thin in yellow gold. A gilded “Jumbo” last made its appearance in 2012 during the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Royal Oak, taking the form of a pink gold variant. This year’s yellow gold “Jumbo” watches are designed with a deliberate 1970s vintage appeal with classic blue or champagne-coloured “Petite Tapisserie” dials. The watches are powered by the automatic calibre 2121 movement, the same movement (but with an additional date complication) that made the original the icon that it is.
Two new variants of the Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin Openworked have also been added to the collection this year. Originally launched in 2012 in platinum and reissued in 2016 in yellow gold, this year’s iterations are presented in stainless steel and pink gold, in limited numbers of 100 and 50 respectively. These will be the last to bear this particular openworked architecture.
Offering a completely different take on masculine elegance is the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar. First introduced in 2015, it is presented in a black ceramic armour this year, a feat that required more than 600 hours of research to achieve. Perfecting the ceramic bracelet alone took up a substantial portion of the time — while it takes six hours to produce a stainless steel Royal Oak bracelet, replicating the effort on ceramic takes five times longer.
Also this year, the Royal Oak Chronograph marks its 20th anniversary with some obvious face lifts. All seven models (three in stainless steel; four in pink gold) in the new series show off two-tone dial designs, larger counters at 3- and 9-o’clock, redesigned hour markers that are shorter and wider, as well as additional luminescent coating for optimal readability.
For ladies, the Royal Oak Frosted Gold continues to seduce both men and women alike with its brand new aesthetic. The gold parts are enlivened by a special surface decoration on the gold called the Florentine technique, a treatment that imbues the watch with a shimmering effect. The result is a feminine and glamorous watch that does not compromise on the essence of one of watchmaking’s most enduring icons. It is offered in two sizes — 33mm with a quartz movement and 37mm with the self-winding Calibre 3120 movement — and in white or pink gold.
Lastly, Audemars Piguet adds a new Royal Oak Quartz to the family that is decorated with an unconventional diamond-set motif. Although it appears that the diamonds on each watch have been randomly set, their positions are the result of a long and considered thought process to ensure that they complement and accentuate the Royal Oak’s distinct design.
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Click to read our report of Jaeger-LeCoultre at the 27th Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie