My 5 favourite lots from the Ineichen Royal 50 auction on May 28 – with no buyer’s premium!Zach Blass
Ineichen Auctioneers are known for their thematic auctions, whether it’s focusing on blue dials for “Precious Blues” or the rose-gold themed “La Vie en Rose” auction earlier this year. They also have a pioneering spirit – their most recent Joker XXX auction consisted of a three-piece set including a piece unique watch, Porsche 911, and NFT all inspired by the clown prince of Gotham. But in terms of a willingness to do things differently, Ineichen revealed during my trip to Zurich that they will be cancelling the buyer’s premium and your first chance to bid BP-free is on their Royal 50 auction on May 28. The theme celebrates the 50th birthday of one the watch world’s favourite icons – the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – and takes the form of a 50-lot auction dedicated to the model. So, without further ado, here are my five favourite lots from the upcoming Ineichen Royal 50 auction.
Royal Oak ref. 25820ST.O.944 Perpetual Calendar Yves Klein
I have a real soft, yet sore, spot for Yves Klein dial Royal Oaks. Once upon a time, I had a 35mm two-tone steel/yellow gold configuration in my sights – then listed for $12,000 USD, but I foolishly hesitated. Before I felt comfortable selling a few pieces off, and coughing up the rest of the cash, it was sold – at less than half the price it would cost today no less. Yves Klein dial models stand out from the typical Royal Oak watches due to their electric blue dials, an unofficial nickname due to its colour being inspired by the French painter. The dial colour is not the only distinct difference, you also have stick-shaped hands instead of the Genta baton hands that are usually found. In a game of millimetres, the distinctions make for a rarer collectable.
Other Yves Klein Royal Oaks have been made, in varying levels of complication, but the Perpetual Calendar is by far the rarest. It is not often these pieces come up for sale, and, of course, being a stainless-steel model it is that much more desirable. Quickly running through the numbers, the stainless-steel watch is 39mm in diameter and it is powered by the automatic calibre 2120/2802 with a skeltonized and engraved rotor. Ineichen lists the watch from 2000 as in very good condition, clearly evident from the lot photos, and reports that dial up it runs within chronometer specifications only gaining 5 seconds per day.
Estimate: $163,050 – $217,400 USD
Royal Oak Nick Faldo Limited Edition ref. 15097OR.OO.0789OR.01
Like the Yves Klein Perpetual Calendar, this Nick Faldo Limited Edition is another example with desirable design deviations. It is definitely not your typical Royal Oak, and I am definitely a sucker for 36mm Royal Oak models – as they are the perfect size for my wrist. The central medallion of the dial features the familiar tappisserie pattern, but you then step up to a radially brushed hours/minutes chapter ring. It is not a deviation for deviation’s sake. AP cleverly incorporated a subtle golf-ball motif, the tapisserie-patterned circular central medallion reflecting Faldo’s professional sport. The competing textures, as well as the small step, creates added depth, resulting in an intriguing aesthetic for those who are not restricted by the purity of Genta originality. Its light grey dial pairs really well against the warmth of the rose gold baton hands, applied indices, central hands, logo, and case. As a limited edition of 375 pieces, it is rarer than your average Royal Oak. Yet, due to its individuality, it stands to be a bargain lot for the winning bidder.
Estimate: $43,500 – $48,950 USD
Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie ref. 26591TI
The minute repeater complication is by far my favourite, the musicality of the chimes makes me think of the glockenspiel clocks of Germany where my grandmother was born. So, to have what I declare as the world’s greatest complication, inside of one of the greatest watch designs of all time, is incredibly desirable. This 42mm x 14mm Royal Oak is cased in lightweight titanium, so it can be worn daily, and its chimes are incredibly crisp and loud thanks to the Supersonnerie membrane caseback that amplifies the acoustics of the complication. The dark blue fume tapisserie dial is very eye-catching, and a fun twist to the dateless dial is its sub-seconds register at 6′ instead of a central seconds hand. Inside, is the manually wound caliber 2953 that has a weekend-proof power reserve of up to 72 hours – assuming you don’t pull the slide every other minute. To top it all off, only five were ever made – so it is incredibly, incredibly, rare.
Estimate: $380,450 – 434,800 USD
Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 25654BA.OO.0944BA.01
Of all the lots on this list, this is the Royal Oak I wanted to take home after visiting the Ineichen office in Zurich. Its dial colour is hard to nail down to one thing. To the eye, you have a matte champagne-golden meets salmon meets creamsicle tone – I just love it. Personally, I also find that the lines of a Royal Oak – the sharp bevels and rich brushing – are best conveyed in yellow gold. It is that much more abundantly clear how many hours go into hand-finishing such a case and bracelet. This ref. 25654BA.OO.0944BA.01 was manufactured in 1988, and yet, aside from some minor aging to the yellow gold, is in very good condition. There are no major discernible scratches to the 39mm x 8.25mm case or bracelet.
Estimate: $97,850 – $108,700 USD
Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 15202IP.OO.1240IP.01
I vividly remember when this reference was released in 2018, and how it instantly became my favorite modern Royal Oak “Jumbo”. While it may seem counterintuitive, the combination of titanium and platinum really intrigued me. Titanium is known for being the lightest weight metal, and noble platinum the heaviest. So, using both results in a compromise – where, perhaps, the watch feels like steel on the wrist. Aesthetically, however, it does have clearer intentions. Titanium is ever so darker than steel, and platinum a tad more brilliant in lustre. Therefore, in Grand Seiko terms, there is that much more play between light and shadow as the polished and brushed surfaces engage with light sources. So, how is the metal divvied up? You have a 39mm x 8.1mm titanium case with an entirely polished 950 platinum bezel, and a brushed titanium bracelet with polished 950 platinum intermediary links. This particular Extra-Thin “Jumbo”, a limited edition of 250 pieces that has since sold out, also features a striking dark-blue fume tapisserie dial that I find has a darker brooding electricity akin to the boldness of an Yves Klein dial.
Inside the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 15202IP.OO.1240IP.01 is the legendary, and now discontinued, calibre 2121 – the original JLC ebauche that powered the first Royal Oak and Nautilus watches.
Estimate: $163,050 – $217,400 USD
How to bid
Bids may be registered prior to the live event, taking place 28 May 2022 , 14:30 Central European Time (CET), via the e-catalogue or bidding form as well as online at ineichen.com or by phone at +41 44 298 11 44. Visit ineichen.com to view the lots, download the e-catalogue and bidding form, or email [email protected] to request them.