Royal Oak 40th Anniversary


Openworked Extra-Thin Royal OakC’mon, you knew this post was coming! One of the most iconic watches of the 20th century is drawing near its 40th birthday, and it was only fitting that a commemorative model should mark the occasion. The creation of Royal Oak, unquestionably the most famous Audemars Piguet model and literally, the watch that saved the manufacture from the brink of bankruptcy, is one of those cornerstone moments in horological history. Much has been written about the conception of the Royal Oak and its father, the genial and late Gerald Genta, and even more could yet be told, but suffice to say that its origins reach to an almost mythical proportion. Saying that this is probably the most famous of watches Mr. Genta designed, could sound like an obvious statement if you didn’t know he was the man who also designed Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, IWC Ingenieur and Cartier Pasha, to name but few of his more successful creations. The legend has it Mr. Genta designed Royal Oak overnight, after seeing a diver with an old style helmet – a glass viewing panel fixed with 8 screws – in the Lake Geneva. We take the luxurious sports steel watch for granted these days, but there was literary nothing remotely similar on the market when Royal Oak premiered. I would venture a guess Jacques-Louis Audemars, a CEO of Audemars Piguet at the time, didn’t like to be reminded of the fact that he almost turned down Mr. Genta’s unprecedented design, and he was hoping that Audemars Piguet could sell 1000 pieces of Royal Oak the first year out of sheer novelty. We all know how that optimistic forecast went.

Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak

Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak

The Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak is the amazing timepiece that Audemars Piguet chose to celebrate the 40th anniversary with. It is a fitting tribute, because the very first mechanism that powered the original “Jumbo” Royal Oak was one of the most famous movements in the watchmaking history, and arguably, the most famous automatic movement of all time - Calibre 2121 (used by Patek Philippe, JLC, Vacheron Constantin and of course, AP). In this spectacular, 950 platinum version, the movement employed is an ultra-thin Calibre 5122, a worthy 3.05 mm thick successor with the monobloc oscillating weight entirely made in 22-carat gold and bears the “AP Royal Oak 1972-2012″ inscription.

Keeping in tone with the whole transparency theme, the date disc is made from sapphire, and the date numbers are transferred in black, while the current day is revealed against the gray background of the date aperture made in metallic sapphire.

The Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak is 39 mm in diameter, just as the original 1972 Royal Oak. It will be available as limited edition of only 40 pieces.

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