Last year at SIHH,Swiss Audemars Piguet, were decidedly contrarian and placed are rather large emphasis on Gold. So much so that just after 2016’s SIHH they threw a large party at Phillips HQ in London and just in case you were wondering that party was dubbed the Yellow-Gold AP Party, which of course we attended. Fast-forward to 2017 and it would appear this theme is still in effect. That said, some would argue that yellow-gold has never been as vogue as it is right now, however, I don’t believe it ever went out of fashion to be honest. Nonetheless, this year at SIHH 2017 the one piece that seemed to have most people excited, me included, was the announcement of the new Royal Oak Extra-Thin ‘Jumbo’ reference 15202, which is a reincarnation of the classic ref. 5402 in yellow-gold that was first released way back in 1977.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Watch is perhaps one of the most distinctive watches around. With its masculine octagonal shape, exposed screws and integrated bracelet, it is easy to recognise from afar. But more importantly, the watch is a legend for pioneering the use of stainless steel in haute horlogerie, thanks to a watch designer, Gerald Genta, who was inspired by the porthole of a naval ship. Though back in 1971 when this inspiration led to the Royal Oak, Mr. Genta wasn’t yet the household name it is today.
The first ever Royal Oak debuted at The Basel Watch Fair back in 1972 and it caused quite a stir. You see, it was the world’s first luxury sports watch; it was imposing, yet impressively thin and, despite being the most expensive watch of its type on the market, it was available only in stainless steel. However, that changed in 1977 when the first yellow gold 39 mm Royal Oak became available, bringing a whole new character to what would soon be regarded as an iconic design.
Audemars like celebrating milestones. We know the first ever reference 5402 was released in 1972 and in 1992 AP followed this up with a 20th anniversary piece – the reference 14802, of course by this time some updates had been included too, most notably the exhibition case back. This update arguably departed from the classic Monobloc design, though many still believe the new design can still be considered Monobloc. This anniversary brought about just 280 pieces in yellow gold out of the 1000 produced overall. We also know that in 2012, Audemars introduced the 40th anniversary 15202 in stainless steel and rose-gold that featured the same ultra-thin dimensions of 39mm x 7mm and still housed the same self-winding calibre 2121. Though, the most notable change being the relocation of the AP logo at 6 o’clock from 12. It goes without saying that is was of course a success.
The SIHH 2017 AP Royal Oak Extra-Thin ‘Jumbo’ reference 15202 in 18-carat yellow-gold is much of the same, which is why it is still so popular and also why it is timeless. It is the same iconic and dependable watch it was 40 years ago, albeit with a few tweaks here and there. I think the most interesting fact here about this new 15202 is that this is the first time the ‘Jumbo’ is making an appearance in yellow-gold in some 20 plus years – something that is easily forgotten.