Although the Royal Oak was duly feted last year when it turned fifty, this year kicks off with a host of releases of Gerald Genta’s iconic luxury sports watch. This special edition trilogy – composed of Selfwinding, Selfwinding Chronograph and Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon models – shares 41mm white gold cases, smoked light blue Grand Tapisserie dials and latest-generation in-house automatic movements. Like the Royal Oak Chronograph with baguette-cut sapphires, these special editions by Audemars Piguet will be sold initially in Japan from March 2023 and then offered globally in July 2023.
The 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak also involved a subtle facelift for 34, 37, 38 and 41mm Selfwinding and Selfwinding Chronograph models. The iconic tonneau-shaped case, octagonal bezel with eight hexagonal screws, integrated bracelet and Tapisserie pattern on the dial were all respected. What it did involve, however, was a more sophisticated finishing on the case with enlarged polished bevels to enhance the play of light. Other tweaks include the tapering profile of the bracelet, thinner, lighter links, harmonised hour markers and hands across all the self-winding models, and tone-on-tone date wheels. The traditional AP monogram at 12 is replaced with the signature of the brand that is obtained using a galvanic growth process superimposing layers of gold before being applied to the dial.
Following in the steps of the recently released Royal Oaks with gradient blue dials, this trilogy also flaunts blue smoked dials but in a softer shade of blue that ranges from sky blue to navy blue as it intensifies towards the periphery.
Royal Oak Selfwinding
As iconic as it gets, the 41mm three-hand Selfwinding Royal Oak is represented in the trilogy. Reflecting the design upgrades practised in 2022, the 50m water-resistant 18k white gold case reveals its wider bevels and contrasting polished and brushed surfaces. Fitted with three central hands and a date window at 3 o’clock, this special edition flaunts a gradient or smoked light blue Grand Tapisserie dial. Crafted in white gold, the applied hour markers and Royal Oak hands are treated with luminescent coating.
As fans of the brand will remember, the 41mm Selfwinding Royal Oak was upgraded with a larger in-house automatic movement developed for the Code 11.59. Compared to the former movement, the new calibre 4302 is not only larger, meaning the date window sits closer to the periphery, but its frequency is higher, and the power reserve bumped up from 60 to 70 hours. Viewed from the caseback, the movement features a skeletonised gold rotor with the letters AP in the centre.
Quick facts: ref. 15510BC.OO.1320BC.02 – 41mm x 10.5mm – 18k white gold, brushed and polished – screw-down crown – sapphire crystal front and back – 50m water-resistance – smoked blue Grand Tapisserie dial, white gold hour markers and RO hands with luminescent coating, date window at 3 o’clock – calibre 4302, in-house, automatic – 4Hz/28,800vph – 70h power reserve – integrated 18k white gold bracelet with AP folding clasp – EUR 63,600
Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph
Instead of blue sapphires in the bezel, this second 41mm Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph designed (initially) for the Japanese market goes for a hallmark AP frosted white gold case. This is not the first time Japan has been feted with a 41mm RO frosted gold chronograph. Last year, two 41mm frosted gold chronographs and latest-generation movements marking the RO’s 50th anniversary were singled out for the Japanese market.
Frosted gold, also known as a Florentine finish, was introduced to AP by Italian jewellery designer Carolina Bucci. Using a diamond-tipped tool, the artisan hammers delicately at the case, bevel and bracelet to produce tiny indentations that sparkle like diamond dust.
One of the key design evolutions of the Royal Oak Selfwinding models regards the enlarged and polished chamfers that also refine and attenuate the dimensions visually, giving the 12.4mm thick case a more slender profile. Given the grainy frosted finishing of this model, the contrast with the bright polished bevels stands out.
The gradient light blue Grand Tapisserie dial hosts three sub-dials in a similar colour but with snailed interiors and black markings. Applied white gold hour markers and Royal Oak hands, all treated with luminescent material, and a central chronograph seconds hand and date window at 4:30h complete the picture.
Initially presented in the Code 11.59 collection of 2019, calibre 4401 is AP’s in-house automatic integrated flyback chronograph movement with a column wheel, vertical clutch, and a robust 70h power reserve. Unlike a standard chronograph, a flyback allows you to stop, reset and start the chronograph in one simple action.
Quick facts: ref. 26240BC.GG.1324BC.02 – 41mm x 12.4mm – 18k white gold, frosted, polished and brushed – screw-down crown – sapphire crystal front and back – 50m water-resistance – smoked blue Grand Tapisserie dial, white gold hour markers and RO hands with luminescent coating, 3 snailed sub-dials, date window at 4:30h – calibre 4401, automatic in-house integrated flyback chronograph with column wheel and vertical clutch – 4Hz/28,800vph – 70h power reserve – integrated 18k white frosted gold bracelet with AP folding clasp – EUR 90,600
Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon
The third model for the Japanese market showcases watchmaking and gem-setting finesse with a flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock and a host of baguette-cut diamonds set on the bezel and as hour markers on the dial. Like the other two special editions, the Grand Tapisserie dial has a smoked light blue colour, and the Royal Oak hands are treated with luminescent material.
The latest-generation flying tourbillon movement, calibre 2950, beats below the sapphire crystal caseback. An automatic flying tourbillon movement with a central rotor first used in the Code 11.59 collection, it beats at 3Hz and offers a comfortable power reserve of 65 hours.
Quick facts: ref. 26730BC.ZZ.1320BC.02 – 41mm x 10.6mm – 18k white gold, brushed and polished – 32 baguette-cut diamonds in bezel – sapphire crystal front and back – 50m water-resistance – smoked blue Grand Tapisserie dial with diamond hour markers – calibre 2950, automatic, in-house flying tourbillon – 3Hz/21,600vph – 65h power reserve – integrated 18k white gold bracelet with AP folding clasp – price upon request
For more information, please visit audemarspiguet.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.