Journey through timeReleased on April 15, 1972, the Royal Oak designed by Gérald Genta features a large handmade stainless steel body, an octagonal bezel secured with visible hexagon screws, a highly stylized one-piece stainless steel bracelet and an ultra-thin The self-winding mechanism caused a stir. mechanism. Inspired by the cultural and industrial revolution of the 1970s, and launched in the early days of the Quartz Crisis, this timepiece that combines sportiness with ancestral craftsmanship heralds the beginning of a new era of fine watchmaking to suit changing lifestyles. Over the years, Royal Oak has launched a mature collection with new sizes, materials, styles and movements. Fifty years have passed and more than 500 Royal Oak models have been created, transforming this iconoclast into a cultural icon within and outside the watchmaking industry. Let's review some of its highlights.
controversial beginningIn 1970, three of Audemars Piguet's distribution agents were aware of the new feelings of their customers and demanded a response from the brand. Audemars Piguet’s managing director at the time, Georges Golay, entrusted the challenging task to Gérald Genta, a trained jeweler and experienced watch designer, who was tasked with designing a never-before-seen stainless steel movement watch. Genta sketched the Royal Oak one night, drawing inspiration from a variety of sources beyond the diving helmets he remembers from his childhood. Genta’s creations continue in the footsteps of Audemars Piguet’s unconventional watch designs that debuted in the 1930s, while also resonating with the cultural waves that swept the worlds of contemporary art, design, architecture and music in the 1960s and 1970s.replica luxury watches
What followed was an extraordinary collaboration with the best watchmakers and craftsmen in the industry: Stern Frères for the guilloche Petite Tapisserie dial, Favre & Perret for the stainless steel case, and Gay Frères for the one-piece stainless steel bracelet. The watch was so complicated to make of hard steel that the first prototypes were made of white gold, a softer material. The one-piece bracelet alone consists of 154 components, including 20 tapered links, making it one of the most complex steel bracelets in watchmaking history. In addition, the alternating satin-brushed and polished surfaces on the stainless steel case and bracelet are exquisite, with the finishing touches being done in the Manufacture’s workshop.
“The Royal Oak was conceived in 1970 on the advice of a general agent who had reservations about the marketing value of gold to promote haute horlogerie – I don’t think that is any longer valid. They did ask us to design a A stainless steel watch more in line with the way we live today. We had to invent a style that was both sporty and stylish, suitable for evening wear and the everyday activities of today’s tasteful people.” Interview with George Golet, 1982.Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control Grigio Speciale
In April 1972, the most expensive steel watch on the market, the 1, was unveiled at the Basel fair, causing a stir and a series of strong reactions, including criticism. Between skeptical customers and the difficulty of making and delivering the first examples of the watch, the early days were rough. Still, as early as 1972, sales reached 490 units—a record for Audemars Piguet and marked the beginning of steady commercial success. For four years, Audemars Piguet has discreetly produced this single reference model - the now famous 5402. It wasn't until 1976 that the first 29mm women's Royal Oak (Model 8638) designed by Jacqueline Dimier came out. Back in 1977, both models were reinterpreted in a two-tone combination of yellow gold, white gold and steel and yellow gold to form a collection. The brand has also added a 35mm mid-size model, the 4100, which it claims is the new benchmark in men's watches. No longer an outlier, the Royal Oak has a promising future.
test new areasThe Royal Oak showed unexpected adaptability in the 1980s. Moving away from the model 5402, the brand explored new aesthetic possibilities for the Royal Oak, with new dimensions and materials. Platinum, yellow gold and two-tone models (yellow and stainless steel) were soon available in platinum and rose gold. These precious timepieces often feature a jeweled dial or bezel.Best replica watch
Diversifying the collection also means exploring new possibilities in terms of movement. In keeping with the times, the Royal Oak saw the introduction of the Quartz mechanism in 1980. Although initially reluctant to use the technology in the Royal Oak collection, Audemars Piguet gave way to market demand after testing the technology on a closely related production line - the so-called "Quartz" (model 6005) was first introduced in 1978 Debut – its otherworldly nature is perfect for this disruptive technology. While the watch borrows some of the Royal Oak's aesthetics, including the geometric case and one-piece bracelet, both satin-finished and polished-chamfered, its bezel is neither octagonal nor made up of eight hexagons. Dotted screws. In ten years, at least 59 Royal Oak models have been created,
While experimenting with quartz technology, the brand has also played a vital role in the revival of classic complications. In 1983, the Manufacture released its first day date Royal Oak model (5572), with a case diameter of 36 mm, available in four styles: steel, yellow gold, white gold, and a two-tone combination of steel and gold. This multi-date watch was launched in 1984 with the 5554 calibre, the first calibre 2120/2800 with the world's thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar movement and a central rotor at the time, watchmaking The factory introduced this watch in 1978 in reference 5548.Patek Philippe Complications Moon Phase
In 1986, Audemars Piguet expanded its range with a skeletonized version of the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar (ref. 25636). Introducing the first Royal Oak skeleton design, and the first sapphire caseback in the collection, this 18-karat yellow gold timepiece takes center stage for the record-breaking mechanism it contains. These early Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar models appealed to lovers of the Haute Horlogerie tradition, ushering in a new era of reinvention for the Royal Oak.
Decade of extremesThe proliferation of Royal Oak styles, diameters and movements continued into the 1990s, reaching new technical and design milestones as the decade unfolded. On its 20th anniversary, Royal Oak took a more radical turn, announcing the remainder of the decade. Not only did 1992 introduce the first limited edition (ref. 14802) in homage to the so-called 39mm "Jumbo" Royal Oak from 1972, this time with a sapphire caseback. It also saw the first Royal Oak on a leather strap – a controversial 36mm timepiece (ref. 14800), developed by independent Swiss designer Jörg Hysek. Its case is hollowed out in the middle to allow the strap to be attached by moving the pivot lever. Interpreted in nearly 20 material and dial variants, this atypical Royal Oak gained greater freedom in the years that followed.
The Royal Oak took to the other extreme with the introduction of the Royal Oak Offshore in 1993 – a preeminent expression of the extreme lifestyle of the 1990s. Conceived by Emmanuel Gueit, this robust and powerful reinterpretation of the Royal Oak in a 42mm case size quickly appealed to a younger generation who saw the "beast" as the ideal accessory for an adventurous lifestyle. This new take on the Royal Oak quickly went its own way and spawned its own collection.Richard Mille RM 032 Les Voiles de Saint Barth 2022
The Royal Oak expressed its masculine side more freely in the 1990s with a series of more extreme designs, while the women's version was equally as creative. Launched in the early 1990s, the first skeleton women's watch featured the historic ultra-thin Calibre 2003SQ, measuring just 1.64mm thick. The Gemset model was equally successful, and in 1998 the Royal Oak High Jewellery Skeleton Timepiece (ref. 15073) was introduced. The 18-carat white gold case, bracelet and hands of this 30mm model are all paved with 446 brilliant-cut diamonds, while the hour-markers are made of emeralds (approx. 4.64 cts). Blending high jewellery and haute horology traditions with modern design, this watch ushered in a new wave of high jewellery watchmaking in the early 2000s. In 1997, the Royal Oak for Women went to the other extreme with the introduction of the smallest Royal Oak collection ever made, the Mini Royal Oak (Model 67075). Measuring just 20mm in diameter, this quartz-powered gold timepiece fits comfortably on the slenderest of wrists.
In addition, the 1990s solidified the establishment of complications in the collection. In 1997, the Royal Oak Tourbillon was presented in a limited edition of 25 pieces in steel for the 25th anniversary of the watch. The rose gold, platinum and yellow gold models are also limited to five watches. The 25831 case is 40 mm in diameter and houses Audemars Piguet’s second-generation tourbillon movement, Calibre 2875, visible through the octagonal tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock. In addition, in homage to Audemars Piguet's groundbreaking self-winding tourbillon in 1986, the watch features a winding system on the case back. In 1997, the Manufacture also introduced the first Royal Oak Chronograph (ref. 25860, 39 mm), and the first Royal Oak Grand Complication with minute repeater, perpetual calendar and split-seconds chronograph. This 648-part movement is housed in a large 44mm white gold case, in stark contrast to the Royal Oak Mini introduced in the same year.
From 1972 to 1999, Audemars Piguet created some 300 Royal Oak models, nearly 200 of which were produced in the highly innovative 1990s.replica Urwerk watches