In 2022, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet certainly came out of the locker room and into the ring with no punches pulled, landing numerous hits before the opponents even entered the arena. How is that possible you ask? Capitalising on the current hype for integrated bracelet sports watches, as well as the existing fever-pitch craze for the octagonal icon, the stars could not be more aligned if you threw a ruler at it.
Given the abundance of the models launched, I figured I will focus on just the chronograph range (which in itself is already more SKUs than you can count with two hands).
We start off with the 38mm, which can be had in both steel, gold, and diamond sets. Powering these are the carried-over Frédérique Piguet 1185 based Calibre 2385 movement. The dial features the engine-turned “Grande Tapisserie” pattern, with its squares about 50% larger than the “Petite Tapisserie” pattern found on the Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin.
The movement is known for its reliability, compactness and thinness, running at 21,600vph and a power reserve of 40 hours. By today’s standards, it is a little behind the times, but given the desirability and the rarity of availability, I don’t think people are going to whinge much, as long as they can get their hands on one.
However, should the modernity and technical specifications of the movement are of vital importance to you, may I introduce to you the brand new 41mm Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronographs, featuring the in-house Calibre 4401 (launched in the Code 11:59 back in 2019, and now fitted to the classic Royal Oak after a turn in the Offshore case last year.)
The first thing that you might notice (and for some reason, it is a lot more noticeable here) is that the 3 and 9:00 subdials are just that little bit above the centre horizontal axis, perhaps taking inspiration from the Daytona. However, in this case, it works well and presents a very balanced and cohesive dial. Other than that the rest of the style is the Royal Oak we’ve come to appreciate and love. With the hype surrounding the time-only version, the chronograph would be my pick. It’s likely a little bit more obtainable at a more reasonable financial outlay. Relatively speaking. And right now, for the 50th anniversary year, you also get a special 50th-anniversary rotor on the watches with a see-through case back, so even more reason to jump in quick.