You are all familiar with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, with its history, and its various manifestations however the model we have for our hands-on meeting today will evoke some outrageous reactions, great and bad. Although there isn’t anything novel in the engine or structurally about this Royal Oak chronograph , this is a particular piece and as such is a restricted version of 200 pieces. What we’re taking a gander at here today – and coming to terms with – is a 41mm Royal Oak chronograph with a frosted white gold case and a boisterous purple dial. Hate it or love it, we should become acquainted with it a little better.
Born during the 1970s, the Royal Oak was an offspring of its time
Leading on from the blossom power groove that marked the 1960s, the 1970s heralded a violent decade marked by student unrest, Vietnam, Watergate, the oil emergency, chime bottoms, lava lamps, exciting music and disco lights. Nonetheless, for watch darlings, the most significant date of this decade is 1972, the year Gérald Genta’s Royal Oak watch was unveiled.
The antecedent of the extravagance sports watch class, the Royal Oak was promoted as a watch with a “collection of steel and a heart of gold”. The dynamic architecture of its steel case and octagonal bezel with uncovered screws and industrial esthetics caused a sensation – in the two headings – and turned established shows over and back to front. It was in no way, shape or form the first steel sports watch on the market – for that, Rolex had been giving robust steel device watches to decades – however the audacity of the Royal Oak was its situating as an extravagance watch, with a sticker price to match. Here was a watch that was technically extreme enough for outside games yet smart enough to be worn with a suit.
Evolution of the ROyal Oak Chronograph
The chronograph variant of the Royal Oak hit the scene in 1997 of every a 39mm format. In 2012, the Royal Oak was given a makeover and its case size increased from 39mm to 41mm along with major tweaks to the dial – triangle marker at 12 replaced with twofold baton markers and more slender, more elongated hour markers, smaller chequerboard pattern confusingly renamed ‘Grande Tapisserie’ – you can read all about the rejuvenated 2012 model here . In 2017, the two-tone dial models made their introduction in same case size however with larger chronograph counters at 9 and 3 o’clock, more limited yet thicker hour markers, more lume and new typeset and transfers with a larger AP logo.
The model we have today is a beneficiary of the 2017 upgrades and very much like the platinum Royal Oak Chronograph with a smoked gray dial we shrouded here in 2018 .
Frosted gold case
I as of late investigated another Audemars Piguet watch, the Millenary watch for ladies , also clad in frosted gold and admit that I am very partial to this finish. In a nutshell, frosted gold is achieved by hammering the gold with a diamond-tipped apparatus to create small indentations in the surface. Roused by an artisanal gold hammering procedure utilized predominantly in gems, Florentine gem specialist Carolina Bucci was enlisted by AP to create another habillage for the 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak . The glistening frosty surface, that looks as however the watch had just been taken out of the cooler, isn’t just beautiful yet incredibly hard-wearing.
Almost the whole surface of this Royal Oak Chronograph and integrated bracelet are shrouded in frosted gold, save for the cleaned flanks of the bezel, the sides of the bracelet and the chronograph pushers and crown. Admittedly, the frosty surface discharges a dull, matte sparkle (is that conceivable?) without the dazzle of diamonds. Be that as it may, on this particular model, the somewhat dirty gray surface suggests concrete, on top of the original industrial esthetics of the 1972 model.
Another marginally contradictory fact concerns the diameter of this model. Although it filled in size to 41mm during its 2012 makeover, the balance between the diameter and thickness (11mm) is amazing – in fact, it looks sleeker than the 39mm and is more balanced on the wrist. The all-important factor of extent has been achieved and the watch feels absolutely right.
Like all Royal Oak models from 2017 forward, the dial is decorated with a guilloché “Grande Tapisserie” (chequerboard) pattern and features the same layout of the chronograph capacities as the 2017 model with two horizontal rhodium-conditioned counters at 3 and 9 o’clock for elapsed occasions and a smaller counter above the 6 o’clock marker for the running seconds. The white gold applied hour markers and the hands are identical to the 2017 model with brilliant coating and the date window roosted somewhere in the range of 4 and 5 o’clock has a purple background to match the dial.
However, the curiosity here is the shade of the dial. It’s purple, unequivocally purple, well “plum purple” in the event that you want to be exact, the sort of purple you may have worn on your 1970s chime bottoms. It probably won’t be the first purple dial in the Royal Oak line-up (look at this Royal Oak Tourbillon ), yet it is the first run through Audemars Piguet blends frosted gold armor in with a purple dial.
Turning over the watch reveals a sealed caseback yet, rest assured, Audemars Piguet’s in-house caliber 2385 beats beneath cover – note that this development is based on the architecture of the Frédéric Piguet 1185. An automatic, integrated section wheel chronograph with tri-compax layout, the development beats a recurrence of 21,600vph/3Hz and gives a force hold of 40 hours for the chronograph, hours, minutes, small seconds and date functions.
Time warps our perceptions
Over the years, watches that were once radical, provocative and challenged the status quo will in general settle down and become the standard. They are so familiar to us, such a lot of a part of the vocabulary of contemporary watchmaking that it’s easy to fail to remember that sometime in the distant past they were the troublesome new young men on the square. The Royal Oak is the ideal case study of this wonder, a radical that settled down to become a classic. I believe it’s safe to say that no one today would depict the Royal Oak as a distantly radical or provocative watch.
When I first saw this watch, I was stunned, I admit it. A purple dial and a frosted white gold case? No chance. In any case, at that point I realized that this may be exactly the reaction Audemars Piguet was looking for. Something that would appeal to men who don’t necessarily want a mainstream, conventional model yet are enamored with the Royal Oak. The industrial, almost solid like impact of the frosted gold combined with an attention-grabbing purple dial is striking and daring. And if this was a way of infusing some outside air and attitude to a watch that was getting rather sedentary in its middle age, I applaud Audemars Piguet and affirm that the mission of sudden stunning exhibition has been accomplished.
Whether you like it or not is an alternate matter, yet I am certain that there are 200 people out there who will ascend to the provocation and strikingly go where relatively few men have gone before… Bravo!
The Royal Oak Frosted Gold Chronograph (ref. 26331BC.GG.1224BC.01) is a store elite release of 200 watches retailing for EUR 64,800. More details at www.audemarspiguet.com .