The answer to that question is easy: everybody. What I mean by this is that there are two quite distinct groups of high-end watch buyers: the collector and the fundamental “watch lover.” The collector is the guy who spent the previous 15 years residing on TimeZone along with also the PuristS, the kind of man who hears the title Walt Odets and knows exactly who I am talking about. The collector is the type of man who understands the difference between hand polished and handmade. He has gotten well beyond the point of arguing about brands and knows enough to talk about individual projects. He reveres Patek Philippe for what it meant to watches over the last 100 years, understands the importance and appeal of vintage Rolex, but buys precisely what speaks to him. An eye buff, on the other hand, is somebody who might be a little newer to luxury watches, and is still very brand conscious. Both purchase watches from Audemars Piguet, but likely different models, and surely for different reasons.Let’s beginning with the collector. The collector buys Audemars Piguet Similar Watches Replica because of its own history in great complicated pocketwatches. The collector purchases AP since when Patek Philippe needed some help on the complex repeater of the Henry Graves Jr.. Supercomplication, it turned to AP. The collector purchases AP because of watches like this, this, and this. They purchase AP since the Le Brassus manufacture has been at the very forefront of materials and engineering, showing off incredible watches like the very first minute repeating wristwatch way back in 1892, the initial jump-hour wristwatch in 1921, the first skeletonized pocket watch in 1934, the debut of an whole class in 1972, the first ultra slim perpetual calendar wristwatch with central rotor at 1978, the very first self-winding ultra thin tourbillon in 1986, the first grande and petite sonnerie wristwatch in 1994, the first self-winding grand complication in 1996, the first wristwatch equation of period together with perpetual calendar in 2000, the high frequency chronometer with double-balance AP Escapement in 2009, and well, a ton of different things.
First introduced as a 50-piece, green dial limited edition for Singapore retailer The Hour Glass, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin in yellow gold was added to the regular line-up at SIHH 2017. And it is as good looking and expensive as it ever was.
A modern remake of the original Royal Oak “Jumbo” ref. 5402 of 1972, the Royal Oak Extra-Thin is a classic in steel and impressive in gold. It was originally available only in pink gold, which made it loud, but the yellow gold rendition comes across as slightly more classic. Yellow gold is after all one of the metals the Royal Oak was available in, back in the 1970s.
Available in either the classic dark blue or a newly introduced yellow gold finish, the Royal Oak Extra-Thin in yellow gold is physically identical to its siblings in steel and pink gold. The case is 39mm wide, thin at 8.1mm high. It cuts an elegant profile on the wrist, and is weighty despite being slim.
Because the case is essentially an agglomeration of flat surfaces, it feels somewhat angular on the wrist unlike its only peer, the Patek Philippe Nautilus, which is comprised more rounded shapes.
Yellow gold is not common in high-end men’s watches, especially from haute horlogerie names, but it’s an appeal look for someone who leans towards a lavish, slightly vintage feel. But like all other gold alloys, yellow gold is soft (marginally softer than white gold in fact), leaving the lovingly finished surfaces of the watch vulnerable to marring. There is perhaps no other watch that looks as good as the Royal Oak when factory fresh and pristine – the alternating polished and brushed surfaces on the case are gorgeous.
Both the blue and gilded dials have the same quintessential chequerboard tapisserie guilloche that’s a trademark of the Royal Oak. Done by hand on a rose engine – creating the telltale motif below the chequerboard – the dials are brass but fitted with solid gold hands and hour markers. Both colours are equally handsome, but the yellow gold finish has an edge in that it’s a less common colour that’s unashamedly loud while maintaining a modicum of style.
Mechanically the Royal Oak Extra-Thin is almost identical to the 1972 original, with the same calibre 2121 that was originally developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre as the calibre 920. A sophisticated and slim movement that’s withstood the test of time, the calibre 2121 has been slightly upgraded over the years, improving its robustness and reliability, but still lacks a quickset date – probably the singular weakness of the Royal Oak Extra-Thin.
Notably Audemars Piguet now owns the intellectual property for the calibre 2121 and produces the movement in-house. Because its slimness makes the 2121 more challenging than a run of the mill calibre, the movement is produced at Renaud & Papi, the complications specialist owned by Audemars Piguet better known for the tourbillon movements it produces for Richard Mille.
Like the calibre 2121 found in other Audemars Piguet watches, the movement inside the Extra-Thin can be customised with a personalised rotor that can be open-worked to form a variety of motifs.
Price and availability
Available starting May 2017 at Audemars Piguet boutiques first and then at retailers, the Royal Oak Extra-Thin in yellow gold is available with a dark blue dial (ref. 15202BA.OO.1240BA.01) or a yellow gold dial (ref. 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02). Both are priced at US$55,400 or S$77,700.