|Case||Rose gold, 41mm|
|Bezel||Rose gold with white gold screws|
|Dial||Silver toned dial with Grande Tapisserie pattern, pink gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating|
|Movement||Perpetual, mechanical, self winding Calibre 2385|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 50m / 164 ft|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 40 hours|
|Functions||Chronograph, hours, minutes, small seconds and date|
|Bracelet||Hand stitched large square scale brown alligator strap with 18 carat pink gold AP folding clasp.|
Any Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, whether uncomplicated, with a chronograph, or something more intricate, is a beautiful watch. The legendary Gerald Genta design, with inspiration drawn from an old-fashioned diving helmet screwed down to the wearer’s suit and named after HMS Royal Oak, debuted in 1972. In stainless steel it looks gorgeous but it’s when it has been crafted out of precious metal that the clean lines and sharp angles, coupled with alternating polished and brushed finishes, really take effect. As such, a rose gold version is something a bit special.
Haute horology is not just about aesthetics but also substance. The case design is one thing but it’s also the intricacy of the movement, the quality of materials and, finally, the finishing that defines this sector. In this regard the Royal Oak does not disappoint, with an exceptional calibre 2385 movement, finished to the highest standards. In this example however, as with all precious metal Royal Oaks, there is no display case back. The only reason I can see for this is that having a solid gold cover adds both value and weight to the watch. It’s something I simultaneously wish Audemars Piguet would address and hope they resist. Whilst I would love to be able to peer into the movement and watch its workings, there’s something inherently cool and confident about knowing what’s under the skin and not needing to show it off.
Either way, when you have a dial this beautiful, especially with a vertically symmetrical chronograph displayed, you can forgive it almost anything.
The ‘grande tapisserie’ dial, combined with solid gold accents is undeniably elegant. It introduces a depth to the dial that not only draws your eyes towards it but allows for a range of colours you didn’t think possible. This is the silvery white version and it refracts light in a very unexpected way; on occasion and in certain conditions, blue and pink hues burst across the face. Then the mirror finish of both the sub-dials and the inside of the bezel compliments this rainbow effect with a simultaneously clean and warm look, it’s as if the colours are exploding in front of your eyes. I have, on more than one occasion, caught myself gazing at it for a good 20 seconds without realising it.
The screw down pushers and crown feel robust but easily manoeuvrable. Some complain as to the necessity of this on a watch like the Royal Oak; that they’re awkward. My response is it adds not only to the rugged look of the piece but also the drama of wearing it. Strapping a precious metal Audemars Piguet to your wrist is something to be savoured and, in my view, any reason to have more contact with it is welcomed. This gives just that opportunity and an excuse to feel the weight and quality of the materials and to appreciate its tactility.
Using the pushers is satisfying, with a solid snick when pressed. The chronograph starts cleanly and ends instantaneously, resetting beautifully each time. It’s a very pleasurable experience to operate and you can feel it is the next level of quality over, for example, a precious metal Rolex Daytona.
The alligator strap is very comfortable, with a good amount of flexibility whilst the deployment clasp feels secure at all times. Additionally, the attention to detail with the way the letters ‘AP’ unhinge from the clasp as you take it off is genius.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph is a piece worthy of any collection and thoroughly deserves its position as part of the holy trinity. Let’s face it, had ‘AP’ not taken the bold step of commissioning Gerald Genta to design a luxury steel sports watch, we may never have had the Patek Philippe Nautilus. And without either of those we may never have seen the Hublot Big Bang, or any other watch manufacturer who has drawn inspiration from its design.
It’s an icon.
This piece is no longer produced but retailed at £33,000 when new. Precious metal Audemars Piguet’s tend to drop a little on the secondary market, compared to their cheaper, more desirable steel sisters and so you should be able to find a good one at around £22-24,000.