Nowadays, watches such as the Royal Oak perpetual calendar skeleton (a benchmark at AP’s collection and one of the finest perpetuals available on the current market, in my opinion), the Royal Oak Equation of Time, the revolutionary Chron-AP, and also this Millenary Minute Repeater prove that AP is certainly a top-tier manufacture. AP’s in-house self-winding caliber 3120, located inside the basic Royal Oak 15400, is also among the finest base moves in the world. These are the things which keep AP relevant to “real” watch fans that occasionally get lost in the buzz around the other types of AP buyers.And then there’s your average well-to-do watch buyer. To me, the best analogy for this other kind of AP purchaser is told via a singular scene in 1 episode of a single television series that was popular for a time period some years back. I am speaking about Entourage, and I wager the vast majority of you understand the way to which scene I’m referring.Ari Gold receives a good gold Royal Oak chronograph (not unlike the opinion I will review down under) by his then-soon-to-be boss, that describes it as “One of the finest watches in the world.” The camera then pans to the good gold watch from its box, and Ari is in disbelief about the gift — and consequently, AP is introduced into a whole bunch of potential new customers, the guys who see Entourage. From this moment on, you see a number of the personalities on the show wearing APs. Many at the time believed Audemars Piguet had paid for the positioning, but in discussions with AP over time, it had been revealed to me that not just one dollar was traded. Rather, a particular producer on the series was a massive AP customer, and insisted it be a Royal Oak introduced to Ari. Entourage did a lot for AP, but it wasn’t this one positioning that defines the “other” kind of AP customer. It does give you a good notion of where AP is a favorite, and that’s in Hollywood, music, and sports, with the young and moneyed.
Audemars Piguet introduced the Royal Oak Frosted Gold last year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first ladies’ Royal Oak, yet the watch garnered significant attention from a male audience despite being aimed squarely at women. In fact, at SIHH earlier this year, AP boss Francois-Henry Bennahmias was wearing a prototype men’s Royal Oak ref. 15400 with the same frosted gold finish. As anticipated, the prototype has made it into production – in a limited edition, no less.
That “frosted” decoration is the result of a collaboration between the Le Brassus watchmaker and Florentine jeweller Carolina Bucci, whose signature technique involves hammering gold with a diamond-tipped tool to create minute indentations on the surface. The result is a fine, tactile and sparkly finish – a decidedly modern approach that mimics the look of gem-encrustation without the jewels.
Understandably, applying this jewellery technique to the angular lines of the Gérald Genta-design came with its challenges. The team had to ensure that the finishing would neither alter the clean lines of the hallmark octagonal bezel nor the fluidity of the bracelet. Consequently, the finishing has to be applied by hand to individual components one at a time. In effect, this hand-finishing technique ensures that each watch is different.
The Frosted Gold watches were originally only available in 33m and 37mm versions for ladies, which were equipped with a quartz calibre and the automatic cal. 3120 respectively. Now the 41mm Frosted Gold for men is powered by the in-house cal. 3120 automatic. It is available only in white gold with a blue “Grande Tapisserie” dial.
Price and Availability
The Royal Oak Frosted Gold for men (ref. 15410BC.GG.1224BC.01) is a limited edition of 200 pieces, and is priced at US$55,000.