The Royal Oak pricing strategy in 1972 was absolutely wild

The Royal Oak pricing strategy in 1972 was absolutely wild

Zach Blass

If you were ever wondering what started the stainless-steel sports watch craze we find ourselves in today, none of it would have been possible without one particular watch – which recently celebrated its 50th Birthday. On April 15th, 1972, Audemars Piguet, Georges Golay, and Gérald Genta would forever change the luxury sports watch segment – in fact, you could say this date was the moment when it was actually born. The Royal Oak pricing strategy in 1972 was absolutely wild for the time, positioning a stainless-steel watch in a manner never seen before.

The trailblazing Royal Oak pricing strategy leaned into the fact it was the then costliest stainless steel watch in the world.

Just imagine… the most expensive steel watch at the time supposedly retailed for CHF 850. Upon its debut, the Royal Oak commanded a retail price of CHF 3,300. In fact, it was not just more expensive than other steel watches – but also gold watches as well. Within the Audemars Piguet 1972 catalogue, for example, the yellow gold Model 5043, equipped with ultra-thin Calibre 2003 was listed at CHF 2,990.

Rather than shy away from the boldness of its positioning, AP’s advertising partner, the Hugo Buchser agency, instead leaned into it for the marketing campaign – with powerful taglines such as “Would you buy a Rembrandt for its canvas”.

Its release set the stage for other classic pieces like the Patek Philippe Nautilus to follow suit. Since its inception to the present, the Royal Oak has maintained its status as one of the most desired watch designs in the world. A grail watch for many collectors over the last 50 years. So, we wish the Royal Oak a belated happy 50th birthday and cannot wait to see what the next 50 years holds for the collection.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” ref. 16202 pricing and availability:

Case Materials Steel, Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, Platinum
Diameter 39mm
Thickness 8.1mm
Water-Resistance 50m
Dials Bleu Nuit Nuage 50 (steel), Smoked yellow-gold-tone (yellow gold), Smoked grey dial (rose gold), Smoked green with sunburst base (platinum)
Bracelet Hand-finished integrated braclet
Movement In-house calibre 7121
Power Reserve 55 hours
Complications Hours, Minutes, Date
Price Stainless Steel – $33,200 USD, Yellow Gold – $70,500 USD, Rose Gold – $70,500 USD, Platinum – Price on request
Availblity Available for inquiries