Under the Lens: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding 37 mm “Turquoise”

A luxury sports watch with personality .

In Le Brassus, Audemars Piguet had a spectacular year in 2023 with the introduction of an ingeniously complex yet user-friendly watch, nestled within the Code 11.59 collection. Noteworthy updates to the collection have drawn the spotlight away from the Royal Oak, which is just winding down from its 50th anniversary celebrations, redirecting our attention to the watchmaker’s latest creation.

 

Traditionally, each passing year brings forth new Royal Oaks, some in collaborative efforts and limited editions. For the year just gone, one distinct standout captured our attention – an ostensibly understated 37 mm Royal Oak, presented in full yellow gold with a turquoise stone dial.

How to pick your perfect luxury sports watch?

If you are aiming to add a single piece to your collection from this brand’s integrated-bracelet sports watch releases – setting aside considerations of accessibility – there are undoubtedly numerous factors to ponder. The essence of a distinguished collection lies in exercising restraint and selectivity, opting for only the most notable specimens. The conundrum arises: How do we distill our myriad interests into the quintessential luxury sports watch that promises years of enduring enjoyment?

 

The initial step in choosing the ideal watch is straightforward – identifying the iterations that resonate with you. These are timepieces that evoke genuine passion, ones you would genuinely enjoy wearing, bringing a smile to your face. It’s a straightforward process, yet easily overlooked in a world where the significant investment value of a watch might overshadow personal preference.

Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin / 39mm; Ref: 16202ST.OO.1240ST.01 in stainless steel with the Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50” dial (©Revolution)
The Royal Oak “Jumbo” ref. 16202

The next step involves scrutinizing the watches we like, essentially to verify if they are truly well-made. This is because some – not all – of our initial impressions might evolve later on when the excitement of the initial encounter wears off. Therefore, distilling the watches we appreciate to those that are objectively well-made is crucial.

 

To assess a watch’s quality, several steps come into play. Firstly, a thorough examination of the design is necessary, considering how the different elements harmonize, evaluating proportions, visual depth, and the presence of details that invite prolonged admiration.

 

Following this, benchmarking becomes essential. Place the watch you intend to purchase alongside historically celebrated examples of the same family. For instance, this involves comparing a standard Royal Oak with the “Jumbo” Extra-Thin in as many aspects as possible. Evaluate everything from broad design strokes to the finer details like finishing on the case sides, bracelet link thickness, applied marker length and width, logo size, and the placement of the date window.

The elegant case side of the Royal Oak 37 mm “Turquoise”

This is merely an illustrative example and not an exhaustive list. Therefore, collectors should compile a checklist of details to assess and identify historical examples for comparison. For instance, the Royal Oak “Turquoise” should evoke associations with Royal Oaks with stone dials from the 20th century. To effectively compare and contrast, one must expose oneself to a diverse array of watches, attending auction previews, examining watches from friends or in stores, and scrutinizing high-resolution pictures online.

 

After confirming that you genuinely like a watch and have acknowledged its quality, there’s still one last consideration, a crucial factor that distinguishes the exceptional from the merely well-crafted. To be clear, if you’re merely seeking something for personal enjoyment, with no plans to acquire another watch soon and no concern for its collecting value, you can disregard this. However, if you’re a frequent watch buyer aiming to curate a collection, this is important.

 

The final step is to assess whether a watch possesses the uniqueness to be deemed a collector’s timepiece. There are two types of uniqueness. The first is what can be termed as “special for the sake of being special.” For instance, a distinctive dial color that’s uncommon, even though it’s technically easy to execute. Its rarity lies not in technical complexity but in the watchmaker’s intentional choice to create a sense of uniqueness.

 

The second type of uniqueness holds a deeper meaning. It could be something technically challenging and noteworthy or something unconventional in terms of design – a departure from the norm or tradition in a meaningful way, signifying innovation in design that remains rooted in the tradition of the lineup.

The Royal Oak ref. 14701BC with a jasper stone dial. Image by Phillips.

A pretty special Royal Oak

Cloaked in complete gold, the Royal Oak 37 mm “Turquoise” is unquestionably a highly luxurious Royal Oak at first glance. However, its distinctiveness lies in the fact that it comes in yellow gold, a departure from the more common white or rose gold. Fully yellow gold watches have not been in vogue in recent years, especially within the domain of luxury sports watches. Nevertheless, Audemars Piguet has made a small number of them in recent years, catering to a select group of collectors.

 

But the new Royal Oak is not only unique because of the yellow gold livery but also, and perhaps more so, because of the dial. The signature tapisserie dial has been replaced with a piece of stone. How does it stack up?

Without the intricate tapisserie guilloche pattern, the dial gains a sense of minimalism. However, it is obviously not plain or flat. The turquoise stone dial, being a material that retains its natural color and pattern, carries a depth that’s unlike any single-color dial, such as a lacquered dial in turquoise. And it also looks more natural and pleasing to the eye.

 

A stone dial is luxurious, and so is a yellow gold case. Together, they make a killer combo. Despite its modest 37 mm size, it’s a watch that will stand out across the room and whatever attire you have. It’s an irresistably cheerful watch that simply puts a smile on your face.

More details

Okay, the broad strokes are pretty well done. Now let’s take a look at the details.

 

The first detail grabbing attention on the dial is the applied logo and markers, and opinions on this may vary. On the positive side, these applied indices significantly boost legibility, especially with the markers featuring a slim line of luminescent material. Moreover, the yellow gold markers impart a sense of high quality and warmth to the dial.

However, some might argue that the markers dominate the small dial space, given the modest 37 mm case size. The length of the markers feels just right, but their width could be considered a tad excessive. As a result, the baton markers occupy a significant portion of the dial. Some may lean towards a cleaner look, preferring shorter markers, fewer of them, or even opting for diamond markers to add elegance and uniqueness. As a side note, a 2022 Phillips sale featured the Royal Oak ref. 14701 with a jasper stone dial, devoid of any markers.

Additionally, the prominent markers and logo leave the date window feeling somewhat under-decorated without a metal frame. It could be argued that the earlier ref. 14701 achieves a more balanced dial execution with just enough details.

 

However, personal tastes vary, and this is solely my perspective. On a more objective note, the latest iteration seems to successfully accomplish its goal of being luxurious, bold, and eye-catching. In this regard, the bold markers and logo serve as a fitting complement to the striking use of colors and materials on the case and dial.

Compact workhorse movement

Shifting our attention to the case thickness, the new Royal Oak 37 mm is approximately 1 mm slimmer than its predecessor, the ref. 15450. This reduction is credited to the new cal. 5900 housed within, making its debut last year during the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak. It’s essential to note, though, that this specific variant is marginally thicker than the standard ref. 15500, making it 0.5 mm slimmer than the recently phased-out ref. 15450.

 

Similar to other time-and-date movements employed by Audemars Piguet, the cal. 5900 is a sports watch movement featuring a full balance bridge and free-sprung balance for enhanced timekeeping accuracy. These movements are essentially modern workhorses, known for their high quality yet efficient mass production, resulting in clean finishes largely facilitated by machinery.

What we think

With its distinctive stone dial in the fashionable “Tiffany” blue, coupled with a reminiscent yellow gold case and bracelet, it presents a combination of materials that stands out. While a Royal Oak flaunting a vibrant color dial is undoubtedly attractive, the incorporation of a stone dial elevates its appeal further. This departure from the usual steel case and tapisserie dial associated with Royal Oaks makes it notably uncommon and positions it as a potentially notable chapter in the history of the Royal Oak.

 

Regardless of individual preferences concerning the dial design, it undeniably encapsulates a modern and bold spirit. This imparts to it an original and contemporary identity, setting it apart from its predecessors with stone dials in the Royal Oak lineup.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding 37 mm “Turquoise” specs and price

Movement: Cal. 5900; automatic; 60 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Case: 37 mm x 9.3 mm; 18k yellow gold; water resistant to 50 m
Strap: Yellow gold bracelet 
Availability:
At AP boutiques and AP Houses
Limited edition: No
Price: USD 61,500

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