Anniversaries are universally acknowledged as celebratory occasions meant for reflecting on all the years leading up to that anniversary, and there is perhaps no greater anniversary for Audemars Piguet than the Royal Oak’s 50th. The Royal Oak has become an icon in the world of luxury watches and a key timepiece in any collection. The unique shape of the bezel paired with the thin case have earned this watch its immense popularity, a popularity that, according to some Audemars Piguet enthusiasts, saved the brand during the Quartz Crisis. For the 50th anniversary, Audemars Piguet has paid homage to its masterpiece by releasing new collections. Read on to learn more about some of the latest releases.
Out with the old, in with the new
To start us off, Audemars Piguet has discontinued their “Jumbo” Extra Thin ref. 15202. For most collectors, this should come as no surprise. The watch became too popular, and to continue making the watch had the potential to oversaturate the market, which would have led to a drop in value for the watch. However, for most “Jumbo” enthusiasts, the discontinuation of the ref. 15202 should not be any cause for distress—Audemars Piguet has already committed to release a similar ref. 16202, which looks almost identical to the original. The biggest differences between the watches are that the new watch has a higher frequency, greater power reserve, and new rotor. For more information, see the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin section of this article.
Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin
The Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin is almost guaranteed to be a massive hit. With a retail price of around $33,200, the same sticker price as the “Jumbo” that came before it. Though the price is undeniably steep, for a timepiece of this caliber, paying for it is the least difficult part of the process. Initially, you are likely to be placed on a waitlist, which can sometimes take years to get off of. The watch offers greater functionality to the wearer than the previous ref. 15202. Instead of 40 hours of power reserve, the revamped mainspring in the ref. 16202 offers 50, and the oscillatory frequency has increased from an initial two Hertz to four Hertz. Lastly, the “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202 is able to be thinner than its ref. 15202 counterpart (by one tenth of a millimeter) due to its automatic cal. 7121 movement.
Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin Openworked
The Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin Openworked ref. 16204 has similar specs to the ref. 16202, but the Openworked is skeletonized. Generally, the watch collector community is divided over whether to embrace or emphatically reject watches with nontraditional faces. Some see the gears as overly crowding for an instrument that is traditionally meant to keep time while others see skeletonization as a way to show off the masterful craftsmanship that went into creating their timepiece. In either case, the Openworked timepiece will likely be one of the Royal Oak’s more divisive collections. The Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin Openworked has a reworked Caliber 7124 instead of the usual Caliber 7121 used in the Royal Oak collection above. The 7124 has many similar features to the 7121 but has been modified to expose more of the movement to the wearer.
Royal Oak 34mm Selfwinding Black Ceramic
Last year, Audemars Piguet released a Black Ceramic Royal Oak; however, this year, Audemars Piguet has already revisited the concept and subtly improved upon the prior design. Now, the datewheel is color matched to the face of the watch, and the logo at the top of the charcoal black face consists of the letters AP instead of the brand name fully written out. As the name may imply, the watch is made almost entirely of ceramic as opposed to the stainless steel that most other Royal Oaks are made of. Their black ceramic design is accented with rose gold, a perfect pairing. If you happened to purchase last year’s edition and are now experiencing buyer’s remorse, you could likely sell the Black Ceramic for more than what you bought it for and then buy the updated version for $48,900 (retail), just $3,700 more than the original.
Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon
Collectors for whom money is no object will be thrilled to learn that Audemars Piguet is releasing a Royal Oak Tourbillon. Tourbillon-equipped watches form the pinnacle of watchmaking, and Audemars Piguet made sure to go all out with theirs. Unlike the standard Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202, the Royal Oak Tourbillon ref. 26530 uses a Caliber 2950 movement, the same as the movement used in Audemars Piguet’s CODE 11.59 Tourbillon Selfwinding watch. When comparing the two families of watches, the greatest similarity is the 6 o’clock location of the balance wheel. Beyond that, however, each watch has its own unique feel and personality. The tourbillon movement inside the Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon has also led to an increase in the watch’s thickness by about two millimeters when comparing it to the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202. But, if you can get past the slight size increase, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Tourbillon is a brilliant timepiece.
Royal Oak Offshore 43 mm Diamond Pavé
If you are considering getting a watch but also looking for a little pizazz, Audemars Piguet has got you covered. The watch brand has just released their Royal Oak Offshore 43 mm Diamond Pavé lineup, and these watches are guaranteed to stand out on your wrist no matter the occasion. Although the Offshore has only been around for about 30 years, so it cannot celebrate its 50th anniversary like many of the other watches mentioned in this article, Audemars Piguet still decided to release a few new models to their offshore lineup. Each of the four is covered in diamonds, and all come as chronographs. The only potentially disappointing design choice Audemars Piguet chose to go with while designing this watch is the date complication awkwardly located between the four and five o’clock markers on the watch face and throwing off the watch’s symmetry.
Here at Watch Investor we are excited to see how both Audemars Piguet and their Royal Oak have matured through the years, and we are looking forward to seeing what the brand will offer next. 50th anniversaries are pretty special, and the next time we will be seeing a comparable celebration of the Royal Oak will likely be closer to 2072.
As a quick side note to our readers, I would highly recommend that if you are considering one of these watches, you try to get on the waitlist as soon as possible. These watches sell quickly and Audemars Piguet has already announced that many of aforementioned special edition 50th anniversary watches will only be available in limited quantities.