Feature1

13 Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives: Luxury to Affordable

First introduced in 1972, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has since become one of the most iconic watches in the world…and also one of the most expensive. Distinguished by a number of key features, it exudes the pre-eminence of pure material along with an instantly identifiable design language. If you consider yourself a true collector, then models such as the Royal Oak Offshore Diver or “Jumbo” Extra-Thin are surely sitting near the very top of your bucket list. And considering the outrageous prices that these pieces often fetch, your bucket list is where they will likely remain. In the meantime, here are some viable alternatives to the trailblazing luxury sports watch.

You might also like:
50 Best Watches Under $500
40 Best Minimalist Watches for Men
21 Best Watch Blogs

A Brief History

With the advent of quartz watches came an adjoining “quartz crisis,” which threatened to upend the mechanical watch industry by the early 1970s. Reading the tide, Swiss luxury brand Audemars Piguet knew that they needed to create a disruptive timepiece or face potential collapse. They hired famous designer Gerald Genta and tasked him with the conception of a radical new model. Forged from steel, it would combine aspects of sportiness and sophistication whilst touting a premium finish along with one-of-a-kind features. As a steel sports watch, it would also provide a direct contrast to previous luxury styles and materials.

Taking inspiration from traditional diver’s helmets, Genta gave birth to the Royal Oak, which debuted at the Basel fair in 1972. Critics were sceptical at first (and nearly certain that Audemars Piguet would go bankrupt), but the piece soon took off amongst high-end collectors. The first batch was known as the A-Series and it was limited to just 1,000 units. Multiple iterations and evolutions would follow over the decades and the Royal Oak is arguably more desirable now than ever before. So too are luxury sports watches, in general, which owe much of their heritage to Genta’s groundbreaking vision at the behest of Audemars Piguet.

Brand: Audemars Piguet
Model: Royal Oak
Launched: 1972
Headquarters: Le Brassus, Le Chenit, Switzerland

Royal oak 1

Image: Audemars Piguet/Instagram

Key Features

As the Royal Oak became the stuff of legend, Audemars Piguet began experimenting with different materials, dial layouts, movements, and complications. Despite these permutations, certain key benchmarks continued to define the line. From the beginning to now, this seminal watch delivers the following key features:

  • an octagonal-shaped bezel secured by eight exposed hexagonal screws
  • an integrated bracelet
  • a unique and “lug-less” case design

Most Royal Oaks also feature a waffled “tapisserie” dial, which first appeared in the earliest examples. However, releases such as the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, 30th Anniversary Royal Oak Concept Watch, and Royal Oak Grande Complication offer exceptions to this rule.

Where Does it Stand Today?

Luxury sports watches stand at the very forefront of modern collecting and Audemars Piguet has kept pace with the latest innovations. It should then come as no surprise that the Royal Oak remains highly coveted amongst high-end collectors, who drop serious cash in their pursuit of ownership. The most recent model debuted earlier this year and it goes by the name of Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin 39 mm ref. 16202. Celebrating 50 years of the brand’s most successful line, it continues a tradition of distinctive excellence.

Best Royal Oak Alternatives

As mentioned above, luxury sports watches have essentially taken over the collector’s market. From Rolex and Patek Philippe all the way down through the ranks, it seems that every major brand has put forth numerous takes on this particular style. That gives you plenty of Royal Oak alternatives from which to choose, even as Audemars Piguet’s icon continues to exist in a class of its own. Here are 13 of the best.

1 patek philippe nautilus

Image: Patek Philippe

1. Patek Philippe Nautilus

Hey, we never said the alternatives were going to be more affordable. That brings us to the mighty Nautilus from luxury masters Patek Philippe. It was designed by Gerald Genta—the same man behind the Royal Oak—and first introduced in 1976. Featuring a sleek octagonal bezel, the watch similarly balances pure elegance with prime sportiness to drool-inducing effect. Ownership will cost you, naturally.

Brand: Patek Philippe
Model: Nautilus
Launched: 1976
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

Check it out

2 girard perregaux laureato

Image: Girard Perregaux

2. Girard Perregaux Laureato

Girard Perregaux unveiled this Royal Oak alternative in 1975 and continues to capitalise on its enduring success. The integrated case and bracelet lend the line an under-arching aesthetic as it incorporates a full spectrum of colours, materials, and displays. You can score a new Laureato for as little as US$10,300 and as much as US$89,100, depending on the model.

Brand: Girard Perregaux
Model: Laureato
Launched: 1975
Headquarters: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Check it out

3 casio ‘casioak gm 2100

Image: Casio

3. Casio ‘CasiOak’ GM-2100

Falling under the G-SHOCK umbrella, this robust Casio offers virtually impenetrable construction and a full bounty of high-performance features. It often goes by the nickname of ‘CasiOak,’ namely thanks to the octagonal-shaped bezel. You might notice a conspicuous absence of luxury design, but with the ultra-low price point, who’s complaining? Indeed, this is probably the most affordable Royal Oak alternative that money can buy.

Brand: Casio/G-SHOCK
Model: GM-2100
Launched: 2021
Headquarters: Shibuya City, Tokyo, Japan

Check it out

4 chopard alpine eagle

Image: Chopard

4. Chopard Alpine Eagle

Whilst inspired by the Alps and high-flying eagles, this “sport-chic” watch also draws upon the Royal Oak in obvious ways. It comes to us from Swiss luxury brand Chopard, who are no strangers to luxury design. Choose between a variety of iterations, including a flying tourbillon model with double Chronometer and Poinçon de Genève certification.

Brand: Chopard
Model: Alpin Eagle
Launched: 2019
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

Check it out

5 hublot classic fusion

Image: Hublot

5. Hublot Classic Fusion

Between the exposed screws, sleek bezel, and sturdy construction, Hublot’s Classic Fusion represents a logical evolution of the Royal Oak design language. It comes available in different colours and sizes and with different displays, some of which are quintessentially minimalist whilst others—like the Moonphase—are loaded with visual detail. Prices vary accordingly.

Brand: Hublot
Model: Classic Fusion
Launched: 2010
Headquarters: Nyon, Switzerland

Check it out

6 creux automatique diamondback ca 07

Image: Creux Automatique

6. Creux Automatique Diamondback CA-07

Crafted from 316L stainless steel, the Diamondback conjures Royal Oak vibes by way of its patterned dial, integrated bracelet, and exposed screws. It runs on Swiss-made CA24-041 automatic movement and displays Super-LumiNova markers under a lens of sapphire crystal.

Brand: Creux Automatique
Model: Diamondback CA-07
Launched: 2019
Headquarters: Australia
Price: USD$1,850 – USD$2,050

Check it out

7 bell ross br05

Image: Bell & Ross

7. Bell & Ross BR05

Launched in 2019, the BR05 marked Bell & Ross’ inaugural foray into luxury sports watches with integrated bracelets. Its unique case and bezel architecture is a brand signature but the overall aesthetic makes blatant reference to the Royal Oak.

Brand: Bell & Ross
Model: BR05
Launched: 2019
Headquarters: Paris, France

Check it out

8 bulova 96d138

Image: Bulova

8. Bulova 96D138

Bulova’s diamond-studded chronograph combines a blue dial with a steel case and looks downright sharp as a result. The exposed screws and steel-based construction makes it a worthy alternative to the Royal Oak and an affordable one at that.

Brand: Bulova
Model: 96D138
Headquarters: New York City, United States‎

Check it out

9 zenith defy classic

Image: Zenith

9. Zenith Defy Classic

Whilst vaguely indebted to the past, Zenith’s Defy Classic is futuristic by design and equipped with a striking skeleton dial. Its sleek titanium case with a matching bracelet imparts a potential Royal Oak influence, even if there are no visible screws.

Brand: Zenith
Model: Defy Classic
Launched: 1969
Headquarters: Le Locle, Switzerland‎

Check it out

10 tissot prx

Image: Tissot

10. Tissot PRX

Some say that Tissot offers the very best in affordable Royal Oak alternatives and this retro-themed model backs up their claim. Its slim case, waffle-like dial, integrated bracelet, and refined finish harken back to a 1978 predecessor, which walked the trail that Audemars Piguet had previously blazed.

Brand: Tissot
Model: PRX
Launched: 1978
Headquarters: Switzerland

Check it out

11 yema wristmaster traveller

Image: Yema

11. Yema Wristmaster Traveller

Priced at under US$1000, Yema’s Wristmaster Traveller feels like a hybrid of the Royal Oak and maybe a classic Rolex dive watch. It’s crafted from stainless steel, powered by an in-house calibre movement, equipped with an integrated bracelet, and limited to just 100 units.

Brand: Yema
Model: Wristmaster Traveller
Launched: 2022
Headquarters: Besançon, ‎France
Price: USD$849

Check it out

12 tudor royal

Image: Tudor

12. Tudor Royal

Here we have another recent release that appears to draw in equal parts from Audemars Piguet and Rolex whilst simultaneously forging its own unique path. Collectors are still catching up to the vintage-fueled design that this luxury sports watch is throwing down, making it something of a sleeper classic.

Brand: Tudor
Model: Royal
Launched: 2020
Headquarters: Geneva, ‎Switzerland

Check it out

13 baume mercier riviera

Image: Baume & Mercier

13. Baume & Mercier Riviera

Four visible screws grace the dodecagonal bezel of this striking watch, which traces its lineage back to the introduction of the first Riviera in 1973. As one might accurately deduce, the model was directly influenced by the sporty and elegant design of the iconic Royal Oak. Even today, that influence persists.

Brand: Baume & Mercier
Model: Riviera
Launched: 1973
Headquarters: Geneva, ‎Switzerland

Check it out

You might also like:
50 Best Watches Under $500
40 Best Minimalist Watches for Men
21 Best Watch Blogs

General FAQ

What is the cheapest Royal Oak alternative?

Whilst there are many affordable alternatives to the Royal Oak, the Casio GM-2100 might give you the most bang for your buck.

Which Royal Oak alternative looks the closest to the original?

Something like the Chopard Alpine Eagle or Hublot Classic Fusion conjure a solid aesthetic approximation of the Royal Oak. Or consider the Cadisen Royal Oak, which is every bit the inferior imitation that its name would suggest.

How expensive is an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak?

The price of an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak can vary wildly. Some are as low as US$20,000 whilst one sold for over US$800,000.

STAFF WRITER

Jacob Osborn

Jacob Osborn is an accomplished author and journalist with over 10 years of experience in the media industry. Jacob holds a Bachelor's degree in English and Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin--Madison and has previously written for Stacker alongside co-authoring a Young Adult novel through Simon & Schuster. Now based in Portland, Oregon, Jacob specialises in entertainment, technology and alcohol reporting. You might find him crate-digging at the nearest record store or sampling whisky at the nearest bar. He daydreams of travelling around the world, but for now, the world will have to come to him by way of lifestyle products, gear, gadgetry, and entertainment. Let's call it a happy compromise while he saves up for the next big trip.