Last week, watch media was saturated with news from Geneva Watch Days, and I was left impressed. But what struck me was how important this mainly independent and unstructured fair has become. To me, the biggest indicator was a few studiously timed releases from brands that were not part of the Bvlgari-led group. Said releases included a rich blue version of the Royal Oak. Word on the street was that this AP was initially leaked, though the timing seemed a tad too perfect for that. And the new AP Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is just too blue for its own good.

Does Avatar blue take the hype-led popularity of the Royal Oak to a new level, or is this blue a color too far into the world of casual cool? Audemars Piguet seems adept at playing its cards right and once again traipses along the fine line between integrated-bracelet grail and hot drop. If you believe that all Royal Oaks should be brushed steel only, you just might find yourself to be mistaken this time.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar

What’s in a color?

You wouldn’t see an image like this in the staid world of Rolex. In a quiet landscape where a one-millimeter size change or flipping a case to make a lefty GMT is deemed revolutionary, AP works differently. As such, a Royal Oak means many things to different people. I’ll even go as far as calling it a wrist chameleon. Audemars Piguet is managing to keep just within the limits of what is deemed too outré while keeping the Royal Oak looking fresh as a daisy. All this while the steel three-hand Royal Oak is still the hottest ticket to integrated-bracelet stardom. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too, apparently. Whether you love blues or not, there’s no denying that this is a killer combo.

A perfectly good perpetual calendar

To me, any perpetual calendar underneath that octagonal bezel is a win. Just try to look at this one without being dazzled by the blue vibrancy. I have never understood the classicists (elitists, even) who’ll only accept this delightful complication set within a Patek Philippe Calatrava case or a well-rounded Vacheron. The entire raison d’être of our love for watches is based on an age-old craft in a world of wearable tech. The tourbillon? That is 18th-century pocket-watch technology. A complex QP caliber reminds us of the very essence of horological craftsmanship and serves as more of a talisman than a tool. The intricate blend of this traditional art with modernity, hand finishing, and high-tech ceramics exemplifies why I’m a collector. I can add that it’s a deep testament to the abilities of AP that the brushing and beveling look every bit as delicate as on the steel-cased Royal Oak.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Blue Ceramic

An angular 41mm of pure pizzazz

Not everyone can pull off this vibrant blue. Do you have a wardrobe ranging from white to black via greige and mid-charcoal? If so, the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26549CS will feel like the exact opposite of your quiet taste, and that is why you need it. The Grand Tapisserie dial is an eloquent background to four symmetrical sub-dials. With day, date, month, moonphase, and leap year indicators, it is eminently readable. A dark blue week-numbered rehaut frames the scene, while 18K white gold pops perfectly in the details. There’s even a healthy touch of lume to the white gold hands and indices in keeping with its sporty nature. I’d happily battle anyone who has a stronger contender for the only perpetual calendar you need.

What makes ceramic such a divisive material for luxury watches?

Looking at this Royal Oak, I simply don’t get the naysayers. If you’re frightened of colors, just get the black version instead. I hear the traditionalist arguments for staying with steel, but come on, there’s a Royal Oak for every taste. Audemars Piguet has produced its octagonal-bezel icon in a plethora of other materials from white gold to tantalum. To me, it only proves Gérald Genta’s design genius through its versatility. And I bet he would love buyers looking forward through materiality rather than into their ’70s-smoked rearview mirrors.

The ultra-thin self-winding caliber 5134 has never had a more fittingly future-proof case.

Achieving this enigmatic Avatar, Smurf, or indigo blue ceramic was a challenging first for Audemars Piguet. To produce it, AP mixes a so-called “binder content” with modified zirconium oxide powder that turns blue when baked. The final visceral blue tint comes alive after sintering the parts at over 1,400°C. The ultra-thin self-winding caliber 5134 has never had a more fittingly future-proof case. I’m just over here trying to suppress my blatant love of blue. As you might imagine, the price for this Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is on request, and production will be low due to the complex manufacturing process.

Did the new AP Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26579CS finally awaken your desire for ceramic? Or are you a staunch believer in steel for all? Let us know in the comments, Fratelli!

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