Editor’s note: Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak is unquestionably one of the most important wristwatches of all time and it is steeped in history for so many reasons.
For a start, the unique aesthetics of the now iconic watch and integrated bracelet were designed by the doyen of horological design, Gérald Genta, in less than 24 hours.
Let that sink in: the timepiece that completely changed the game of luxury sports watches forever was conceived in less time than it would take us to fly to Geneva.
What’s more, when it was released in 1972, the Royal Oak cost 3300 Swiss franc … for a steel sports watch!
To put that in context, you could have bought close to a dozen Rolex Submariners for the same money at the time.
Anyway, we could go on forever about this wonderful watch but, instead, we thought it would be worth drawing your attention back to the time we went hands-on with the solid yellow gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph.
STORY IN A SECOND: When the first Royal Oak was released in 1972 in steel it was a revelation. Now, in 2016, there’s a milder ripple of surprise, but surprise nonetheless, to see it return in the least on-trend of golds, yellow.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is one of the enduring giants of horology. Since its release in 1972, the iconic Genta design has spurred industry trends, copycats, controversies, and has inspired a renaissance in luxury sports watches, introducing them to an entirely new generation. The Royal Oak was the first luxury steel sports watch, but, in the lyrical words of the brand, the “steel body concealed a heart of gold”. That said, a few years later, in 1977, a yellow gold version was released and now, almost 40 years later, the original precious metal is back.
Audemars Piguet has just announced a number of new yellow gold Royal Oak models. A standout is the Royal Oak Chronograph reference 26320BA. The 41mm 18k gold case is home to the archetypal, pantograph-manufactured ‘Grande Tapisserie’ dial in a choice of either silvery grey, or a new, paler blue, a colour that offsets the vibrant yellow gold. Powered by the bulletproof Calibre 2385, the movement features a remarkably thin profile, 55-hour power reserve, and has incredibly smooth actuation, as in the pushers are a joy to use. There’s a power and confidence around a solid yellow gold watch that’s hard to beat.
These days, yellow gold is not a popular choice for watchmakers, and AP appear to be going against the grain and trendsetting, just as they have in the past with the Royal Oak. We were big fans of the two-tone silver and gold ref. 15400SR released in 2015, but the new ref. 26320BA is aimed at the bold watch lover who appreciates history and quality, and is willing to overturn the rose gold bandwagon.