There’s More To The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Than The “Jumbo”
Do I need the new AP Royal Oak “Jumbo”? Well, the watch is an essential part of horological history. And the new iteration that celebrates fifty years of the Royal Oak sure is a stunner. But, if I’m honest, the one watch that impressed me the most of all the 50th Anniversary models this year was the reference 15550ST.OO.1356ST.04. It’s the delightful, light blue, 37mm Royal Oak Selfwinding. And it’s the watch that tells me there’s more to the Royal Oak than the “Jumbo”.
Never judge a book by its cover, and never judge a watch by its dial. Right? Well, actually, if it’s a coffee-table book, the photographic qualities of the cover are quite relevant. And how can you not judge a watch by its dial? The dial is the face of the watch, both literally and figuratively, and it’s what you look at first and most often. The first thing that struck me when I first saw the 37mm Royal Oak Selfwinding 50th Anniversary (€23,500) was the light blue dial. I’ve written about the watch before, and it was actually the version with the Bleu Nuit dial that I thought shows the most potential back then. That’s because that blue shade — the original night-blue dial color of the Royal Oak developed by famous dial-maker Stern Frères — in combination with the prominently textured Tapisserie pattern bestows the watch with a “Jumbo”-like confidence and presence.
There’s more to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak than the “Jumbo” — Please meet its 37mm “little brother”
Great watch, that Bleu Nuit version. It really is. It’s a very wearable, very all-round, very nicely evolved version of the Genta-designed Royal Oak. But the more I look at it now, the more I get the feeling that it is also pretending to be something it’s not. And that is a “Jumbo”. The light blue version doesn’t engage in this kind of roleplay. Its 37 × 9mm case is on the small side, but because of its shape, it has the presence of a 40mm watch. And that’s despite its slimness, which is achieved by integrating the case back further into the case itself. In the end, it’s all about proportions, shapes, the bracelet, finishing, and colors. It’s not just about cold numbers when it comes to wrist presence.
When it comes to wrist presence, the dial is a major factor. The Grande Tapisserie dial functions as a dynamic light reflector. And not only does it make this Royal Oak shine, but it also dynamically produces a number of blue shades to keep things visually entertaining.
The interaction of elements
There’s more to say about the dial. Audemars Piguet made some small but essential changes. The minute track, for instance, now sits on the Tapisserie itself and is no longer on a flange around the dial. Combine that with white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent filling, and you have one seriously balanced, vibrant, and attractive dial composition.
The colors, textures, and finishes interact with each other, creating a ton of charisma for such a modestly sized watch.
What a handsome/pretty face to look at! And you know what also helps to make the most of that good-looking face? The fact that the beveled surfaces of the watch are now larger. This results in a more visible distinction between polished and brushed surfaces. The colors, textures, and finishes interact with each other, creating tons of charisma for such a modestly sized watch.
Sturdy and suave at the same time
And I’m not done yet. The updated bracelet makes the 37mm Royal Oak more robust, sturdy, and luxurious. It also makes it incredibly smooth and suave. The first four links of the bracelet are now more trapezoidal, with a greater taper for a more elegant look. And what also helps in creating a smoother, more sophisticated appearance is the fact that the bracelet is thinner and lighter than the previous version.
A special “50 Years” rotor just for 2022
An automatic movement made for AP by Vaucher replaces the old 3Hz caliber 3120. This new, thinner movement, known as caliber 5900, beats at 4Hz with 60 hours of power reserve. It ticks away within a 50m water-resistant case outfitted with a sapphire case back. What is most striking, of course, is the special “50 Years” rotor. Audemars Piguet will only use this rotor for one year. Next year, when the Royal Oak turns 51, a standard rotor will be fitted to all of the Royal Oak models. So, this watch itself is not limited, but the rotor is. Who would have thought that limited-edition rotors would become a thing?
Anyway, even without the celebratory rotor, the 37mm Royal Oak Selfwinding in light blue is a very attractive, fresh, and contemporary take on the classic RO theme. Get one while you can.
But can you? I’m afraid all of the jubilee models in the new RO collection will be pretty much unobtainable despite the premium pricing — allow me to remind you that the 37mm steel RO costs €23,500. That’s the cruel reality we have to deal with in the 2022 watch world.
For more information on all the versions in the 2022 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak family, please visit the brand’s official website.
Please find and follow me at Lex Stolk • Instagram