Audemars Piguet is a watchmaker that needs little introduction, and just yesterday, AP introduced four new Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore references in collaboration with designer Matthew Williams of 1017 Alyx 9SM. Alongside them is a unique Royal Oak to be auctioned for charity. These new Royal Oak and RO Offshore models offer a unique aesthetic in both yellow and white gold. And while I’ll never be able to own one, I find them pretty exciting.

Introducing so many new references in the Royal Oak line is headline enough, but in addition, Audemars Piguet is collaborating with the fashion brand 1017 Alyx 9SM with input from Matthew Williams, the fashion brand’s designer and founder. For those who want to know, the name “Alyx” is that of Matthew Williams’ daughter. The number “1017” is a reference to his birthday, October 17th, and “9SM” is an abbreviation of the brand’s founding studio address in Saint Mark’s Place, New York City. Now that we have got a translation of the name, let’s take a look at the watches. 

Why so serious?

As a Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer, AP says it wanted to create a sober series of timepieces to bring focus to the wearers, not what they’re wearing. In doing so, AP says the watches merge the watchmaker’s aesthetic codes with Williams’ “refined touch” to appeal to “fashion lovers and allow them to express their individuality,” whatever that means. These four new references come in 18K gold (yellow or white) and include two regular Royal Oak models and two Offshores. I can see the yellow hold versions certainly attracting some attention, but vertical satin finishing on these watch dials does indeed adhere to that more serious, almost Teutonic aesthetic. Even so, these are watches that others will notice.

They range from 37mm to 42mm in case size, providing options for most tastes and wrists. This means that both the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore versions will feature the same design, a first for the Haute Horlogerie watchmaker. They also house AP’s latest generations of movements and beautiful hand finishing with alternating satin and polished surfaces. These add a little light play to what are, supposedly, somber watches. 

The two Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 1017 Alyx 9SM models

To keep the dial designs as clean-cut as possible, AP removed the hour markers and date aperture from the Royal Oak models. This emphasizes the vertically brushed finish of the gold dials. The 37mm three-hand automatic (15550BA.OO.1356BA.0) comes with luminescent yellow gold hands and features not only “Audemars Piguet” on the dial but also “1017 ALYX 9SM”, the former in gold applique and the latter transferred. The case is 18K yellow gold, water resistant to 50 meters, and equipped with a sapphire top crystal and case back. This case is relatively slim at 9.1mm. Inside it is AP’s automatic caliber 5909, introduced in 2022, with a 60-hour power reserve, 29 jewels, and a 28,800vph beat rate. This model has a price of CHF 65,700.

The larger 18K yellow gold model (26240BA.OO.1320BA.01) comes in at 41mm and is an automatic chronograph. However, it eliminates the chronograph counters, leaving just the hands at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. However impractical, this is a bold design choice for the sake of minimalism that I really like. The case is 12.44mm thick and water resistant to 50 meters, featuring a sapphire top crystal and case back. The bracelet, also in 18K yellow gold, comes with a folding clasp. Inside the watch is the caliber 4409, a 40-jewel movement with a 70-hour power reserve and a 28,800vph frequency. This caliber boasts with a column wheel and a flyback function, allowing the wearer to restart the chronograph instantly. It also has a vertical clutch that prevents the chronograph seconds hand from jumping upon activation. This Royal Oak Chronograph is limited to 200 pieces and priced at CHF 80,800.

And two sporty Offshore models

Both of the Royal Oak Offshore models also focus on a stripped-back, nearly bare design aesthetic, though both also come in at 42mm in diameter and are a little sportier. Once again, the chronograph counters are gone, leaving only the hands at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. The Royal Oak Offshore models are available in a choice of 18K white gold (26238BC.OO.2000BC.01) or yellow gold (26238BA.OO.2000BA.01) and have AP’s interchangeable strap system, coming with both a bracelet and black rubber strap. Only the date aperture remains at the 3 o’clock position, with the 1017 Alyx 9SM signature at 6 o’clock. These two Royal Oak Offshore models house AP’s caliber 4404, which features an integrated chronograph and a flyback function. 

This movement has the same features as the caliber 4409 in the 41mm Royal Oak chronograph above. It features a 70-hour power reserve, 40 jewels, and a 28,800vph frequency. However, it is slightly thicker and has a date function. Consequently, the two Offshore models have thicker cases (15.2mm) but are also water resistant to 100 meters, making them more than pool-capable. Each model is fitted with a sapphire case back, revealing the oscillating weight that has been specially developed for these watches. Made of 22K yellow or white gold, it features an engraving of the 1017 Alyx 9SM name as well as the indication of the rotor’s Newton millimeter (torque) and weight. AP says these are its nod to the technical references indicated by Matthew Williams on his buckles. These Offshore models are limited to 75 pieces each for CHF 99,700.

A special charity edition

While the major news will be the release of these four new limited-edition models by AP, Williams and the brand also created a unique Royal Oak Chronograph to be auctioned for charity. The funds raised will go to NGOs Kids in Motion and Right to Play, who conduct projects aimed at supporting play-based learning initiatives for disadvantaged children.

The watch itself is a 41mm two-tone model in 18K yellow gold and stainless steel. Its dial is a black PVD-coated gold number decorated with the same vertical finishing seen in the limited edition series. On and above it sit the signatures of both brands and yellow gold chronograph hands. The three central hands in yellow gold have lume, while the watch is powered by the previously mentioned caliber 4409. Audemars Piguet said the auction of this unique piece was to take place during the launch party of the collaboration between Audemars Piguet and 1017 Alyx 9SM on August 24th in Tokyo.

Final thoughts

These watches will allow their lucky wearers to admire a superb series of movement decorations, including Côtes de Genève, sunray and satin finishing, circular graining, as well as polished bevels. I particularly like the 37mm Royal Oak in this series of bold releases, and the idea to remove the chronograph counters on the 41mm version looks cool. What are the only things I don’t like about this release? I’ll never own the 37mm one, and all of the others look too large for my wrist.

What are your impressions, dear Fratelli? Could these releases earn their spots in the top Royal Oak models ever produced? Let us know in the comments.