BY HARLAN CHAPMAN-GREEN
Ah, 2022, it’s been one hell of a ride so far. From a full return to normal post-Covid to the hottest temperatures on record for many places, this year’s had it all so far. It’s going to be a special year, for sure, but for Audemars Piguet, it already is, as 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the watch that saved it from bankruptcy: the Royal Oak.
That’s right, 50 years ago this year, Gérald Génta allegedly sketched the design of the Royal Oak the night before it was due to be shown at that year’s Baselworld expo. Talk about cutting it fine! The Royal Oak was the first serious luxury wristwatch to use stainless steel instead of gold or another precious metal. This new watch, to mark its 50th anniversary, uses a different kind of material for its case and bracelet.
Ceramic. That’s right, the 50th-anniversary piece is in a fabulous colour combo, black and gold, and has a 41mm x 12.4mm case made of black ceramic. The bracelet and its various links, famous throughout the industry for their design, are also ceramic. The scratch resistance should be extremely high, but the water resistance is just 50m.
The black grande tapisserie dial looks as handsome as ever in black. The gold detailing, such as the applied hour markers and Audemars Piguet logo, look attractive and contrast well. I’m unsure why they wrote their entire name out rather than using the ‘AP’ logo, but it still looks nice. As with nearly all Royal Oak chronographs, this is a 12-hour chronograph set up with a date window.
Around the back and visible through the sapphire caseback is the calibre 4401. It’s a fully in-house calibre and part of Audemars Piguet’s commitment to moving away from Dubois Depraz chronograph modules which, while excellent, are available in watches that cost a fraction of a Royal Oak. The chronograph is a column wheel chronograph with a flyback function as well, allowing the chronograph to continue operation even when reset. The movement itself has a 4Hz rate, 70-hour power reserve and all the finishing you’d expect from a name like Audemars Piguet.
I’m not sure if this is a limited edition, although I expect Audemars Piguet will try and make as many as they can in one year and then that’s your lot. The price is set at $74,600.
Visit Audemars Piguet here.