Today, watches like the Royal Oak perpetual calendar skeleton (a benchmark in AP’s collection and among the best perpetuals available on the market, in my own opinion), the Royal Oak Equation of Time, the revolutionary Chron-AP, and this Millenary Minute Repeater demonstrate that AP is certainly a top-tier manufacture. AP’s in-house self-winding caliber 3120, located inside the fundamental Royal Oak 15400, is also one of the best base movements on earth. These are the things which keep AP pertinent to “real” watch fans that occasionally get lost in the buzz round the other kinds of AP buyers.And then there is your average well-to-do watch purchaser. For mepersonally, the best analogy for this other type of AP buyer is advised using a singular scene in one episode of one television series that was popular for a time period some years ago. I am talking about Entourage, and I wager the great majority of you understand exactly to which scene I’m referring.Ari Gold receives a solid gold Royal Oak chronograph (not as the opinion I’ll review down below) by his own then-soon-to-be boss, that explains it as “One of the best watches in the world.” The camera then pans to the solid gold watch from its box, and Ari is in disbelief about the present — and thus, AP is introduced to a whole bunch of potential new customers, the men who see Entourage. From this moment on, you see a number of the characters on the display wearing APs. Many at the time believed Audemars Piguet had paid for the placement, but in talks with AP through time, it was disclosed to me that not a single dollar was exchanged. Rather, a specific manufacturer on the series proved to be a large AP client, and insisted it be a Royal Oak presented to Ari. Entourage did a great deal for AP, but it was not this 1 positioning that defines the “other” kind of AP client. It will give you an idea of where AP is a favorite, and that’s in Hollywood, music, and sports, with the youthful and moneyed.
Most of the gold watches sold are 18k rose, pink or red gold. A quick once-over of a catalogue proves that. Yellow gold is slightly out of fashion. Audemars Piguet is the first amongst established, high-end watchmakers to emphasise the metal, with a full range of yellow gold Royal Oaks presented at SIHH 2016, including a chunky chronograph.
Last year, however, Audemars Piguet announced arguably the most interesting yellow gold Royal Oak of all, a limited edition made for Singapore retailer The Hour Glass. It’s Royal Oak Extra-Thin ref. 15202 – the model that’s closest to the original 1972 Royal Oak “Jumbo” – in bright yellow gold, with a dark green dial.
In the regular collection, the only precious metal the Royal Oak Extra-Thin is offered in is rose gold, giving it an ostentatious, contemporary look. The yellow gold limited edition instead harks back to the original Royal Oak “Jumbo”, which was available only in yellow gold, the de rigueur colour of gold back then.
Typical of a Royal Oak, the surfaces and edges of the case are gorgeously finished. The mirror-polishing is lustrous while the brushed surfaces are fine and precise. No doubt the finish is a scratch magnet, but fresh off the production line there are few watch case as tangibly sexy as a Royal Oak.
The bezel and case are covered in clear protective stickers, hence the grainy surface
It’s still loud and flashy, but the colour of gold makes it that much more different from the numerous, run of the mill rose gold watches. The feel is slightly retro, accented by the green dial, another unusual colour. Green pairs with yellow gold very well, but it’s not often found in modern watches. The shade brings to mind British racing green, and is slightly glossy; a marginally less glossy finish may have been more suited to the shiny case. The dial motif is the chequerboard tapisserie that’s a trademark on the Royal Oak.
The movement inside is identical to the ordinary version of this watch, the slim, automatic calibre 2121 that is still regarded as one of the most sophisticated automatic movements despite being just shy of 50 years old. Today the movement is exclusive to Audemars Piguet (which makes it in-house, having bought the rights) and Vacheron Constantin; though decades ago Patek Philippe also used the same calibre in the original Nautilus ref. 3700 “Jumbo”.
Originally developed as the Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 920 in 1968, the movement is very thin, just 3.05mm high, but with a full rotor, instead of the micro-rotor common in slim automatics. That called for some clever engineering, most obvious being the metal ring on ruby rollers that supports the rotor. In The Hour Glass edition the 18k gold rotor – which ironically seems to be rose gold – features an open-worked hour glass and hand-engraved limited edition lettering. While appropriate for the edition, the logo looks somewhat uninteresting relative to the rest of the watch.
Pricing and availability
Available only at The Hour Glass, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin The Hour Glass Edition (ref. 15205BA.OO.1240BA.01) is priced at S$79,600 including seven percent local tax. That’s equivalent to US$58,800, and about five percent more than the regular production rose gold model. While the premium over the ordinary model is modest, it’s still stiff for a time-only wristwatch.