Like the very person who’d wear one, Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak remains forever young-at-heart. What began in 1972 with technical brilliance and a groundbreaking design carries on to this very day. An enduring benchmark for both aesthetics and innovation, the iconic sports watch celebrates its 50th anniversary with five new calibres and a new generation of the Royal Oak “Jumbo”. With the signature octagonal bezel and hexagonal screws, each piece is impossible to miss.
History of the Royal Oak
Back in the early 1970s, the watch industry was facing an infamous quartz crisis, which ushered in a new era of mechanical watchmaking. Between that and shifting lifestyles, there was a sense of cultural and industrial renewal in the air. Having been founded in 1875, Audemars Piguet was certainly no stranger to keeping up with shifting landscapes, so the brand’s goal was to lead the charge of horological innovation whilst simultaneously retaining the age-old skills and artisanal production methods on which its legacy was built.
Enter the mighty Royal Oak. Designed by Swiss legend Gérald Genta, it was a revolution unto itself. While luxury watches of the time tended to be small, round, and forged from precious metals, this one took things in an entirely new direction. Touting a large body of hand-finished stainless steel, the watch featured a stylish and palpably forward-thinking design, housing an ultra-thin selfwinding mechanism and made of hand-finished steel with an octagonal bezel punctuated by hexagonal screws, all topped off with an integrated tapering bracelet.
The Royal Oak started to evolve in the late ‘70s with the release of the first Royal Oak for women designed by Jacqueline Dimier in 1976. This new iteration gave rise to a collection, which has yielded multiple iterations and innovations in the time since. It’s also drawn inspiration from a spectrum of cultures and industries, only to then inspire other people in turn (which isn’t to mention its impact on the watchmaking industry at large).
The early ‘80s saw the introduction of the first calendar functions to the range, culminating with the release of the first Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in 1984. Other complications followed in 1997 with the first Royal Oak Tourbillon, the first Royal Oak Chronograph and the first Grande Complication, which was a landmark introduction in the collection’s history.
Now, 50 years on from when it first launched, the Royal Oak remains absolutely singular on multiple fronts. Over 500 models have been created to date and each takes on the essence of a cultural artifact, or what Audemars Piguet likes to call “an object of permanence in a world of obsolescence.” Now, with the introduction of five new calibres comes the next generation of technical innovation and uncompromising design, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible while maintaining the legacy of what came before.
Latest Royal Oak Editions
The Royal Oak now welcomes five new chronographs into the family, each featuring a dedicated “50-years” gold oscillating weight that’s an anniversary feature exclusive to 2022. Now, let’s take a closer look at these exciting 41mm timepieces:
Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph “50th Anniversary” Pink Gold With Black Dial
Audemars Piguet pulled out all the stops for this luxurious 41mm edition, which surrounds a black “Grande Tapisserie” dial with an 18-carat pink gold case and bracelet, while offering the aforementioned exclusive-to-2022 “50-years” oscillating weight.
Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph “50th Anniversary” Pink Gold With Silver Dial
This distinguished edition employs a sleek silver-toned “Grande Tapisserie” dial, which contrasts impeccably with the case and bracelet of 18-carat pink gold.
Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph “50th Anniversary” Pink Gold With Alligator Strap
A black “Grande Tapisserie” dial and matching alligator strap flank an 18-carat pink gold case to render a seriously handsome impression. Like its brethren, this one runs on selfwinding Calibre 4401 with a flyback chronograph, hours, minutes, small seconds, and date function.
Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph “50th Anniversary” Stainless Steel With Black Dial
Against the backdrop of prime stainless steel, a black “Grande Tapisserie” dial pops all the more. Display features include black counters, white gold-applied hour-markers, and signature hands with luminescent coating.
Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph “50th Anniversary” Stainless Steel With Silver Dial
This expert edition makes for a stunning monochrome statement. It hosts mainstay features such as the “50-years” oscillating weight and a near-symmetrical display, upon which three subdials and a compact date window harmonise with the “Grande Tapisserie” pattern and brand detailing.
There was no mistaking the Royal Oak when it debuted and in that regard very little has changed. Indeed, these watches haven’t lost one iota of their allure over the course of five decades. Now, this collection builds on that foundation, ensuring the Royal Oak will continue to be both an industry powerhouse and the perfect embodiment of that young-at-heart spirit for many decades still to come.
Discover the Audemars Piguet collection at The Hour Glass Melbourne, located at 252 Collins Street Melbourne.