The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph.
This is a watch that is known to many of you, it may not need much of an analysis — but this really is HODINKEE and you can think you are gonna receive one. The Royal Oak Chronograph is a wristwatch which has tens of thousands of lovers all over the world, and a couple of detractors, also. The Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore families often appeal to very different individuals, but I will get to that soon. In this short article, I tackle a mainstay in the AP lineup, and an intriguing bit of haute horology, though one without its own in-house motion. I’ll have a look at just how this 41mm column-wheel, vertical clutch chronograph wears, and whether the matter of where the movement came out of is something worth noting in any way. That is the HODINKEE Week About The Wrist with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, and it’s one worth spending some time with.AP is a truly distinctive watch manufacture. It is one of the few worldwide haute horology brands that remains in the control of its founding family, with several members of their Audemars family sitting on its board. However, the possession of AP is not always the most interesting facet of this 175 year old fabrication — the question that matters is that buys AP’s watches?
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.