Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
The key to knowledge are the basics. This is what allows us to develop our minds – little by little – and possess true knowledge, a critical eye… and even allow us to share a new passion with our entourage.
It is for this very reason – also to avoid you feeling lost or frustrated in “watchmaking” conversations – that we begin a series of “Cheat Sheets” on the iconic watches that have marked the history of watchmaking, including how to identify them easily.
Today’s pick, one of the most well-known timepieces of the 1970’s: the legendary Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
“…a series of “Cheat Sheets” on the iconic watches that have marked the history of watchmaking, including how to identify them easily.”
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak : History
During the late 1960’s quartz watches was introduced to the market, leaving a ticking bomb for “traditional” watchmakers such as Audemars Piguet. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Swiss manufacturer responded with a sports watch that would create a great ruckus in the industry.
What resulted was the world’s first luxury sports watch, in stainless steel for the price of one in gold. With the launch of the Royal Oak, nothing would ever be the same as before.
Released in 1972, the Royal Oak was born from the creative mind of Gerald Genta, genius jewelry and watch designer. Inspired by a traditional diver’s helmet the piece was named after a series of vessels from the British Royal Navy. Avant-garde design, visible gasket and screws, integrated bracelet, disruptive choice of material (luxury watches were made of gold at that time)… A sure way to defy horological codes.
Despite the initial shock, the industry could not ignore the exquisite quality and irresistible appeal of the Royal Oak for long and the piece would become a true icon of modern watchmaking.
“Avant-garde design, visible gasket and screws, integrated bracelet, disruptive choice of material… A sure way to defy horological codes.”
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak : Distinctive Features
So how to recognize the Royal Oak?
The octogonal bezel with visible screws.
This is probably one of the easiest characteristics to spot out on the Royal Oak. Unlike most watches, this piece sports a unique octagon shaped opening, fixed down with 8 visible screws.
Instead of a smooth dial, the Royal Oak possesses a striking dial with a “petite tapisserie” pattern, which is basically a fine relief of pyramidal squares and lozenges.
The integrated bracelet.
Historically, before 1972, watch cases were manufactured independently. With the Royal Oak, watch case and bracelet were designed to be made as one entity. Here, the bracelet does not show a beginning nor an end.
To continue along the same lines, here is a short video on the Royal Oak (currently available in French only) on “La Minute de l’Expert“, a series created by Les Rhabilleurs and expert watchmaker Romain Réa. Finally, an initiative to simplify watchmaking for those who would like to take interest without having to spend hours on it.
If this is your case, click play: