How enlightening it would be to turn back the clock to 1972, when Audemars Piguet and mythical watch designer Gerald Genta were producing the Royal Oak watch. Were they all anxious about launching a timepiece that would eventually become not just a new genre but the defining genre of this post-quartz era Who, at the ultra-conservative Swiss view culture, would gamble with something so revolutionary, also with such insouciance
Switzerland’s watch business was, in the early 1970s, on the brink of a catastrophe now known as the Quartz Crisis. It would decimate the watch industry established, as it was, on costly mechanical motions. But Audemars Piguet couldn’t have known that it was functioning with such a calamity lurking in the wings. The revered home’s concept watch would contain a mechanical motion in an almost comically solid stainless steel case, inspired by the hermetic sealing of a boat’s port. But, and here’s the catch, it would be sold as a luxury watch. But back in 1972 they were believed timepieces for professionals, not chic evening attire, despite being provided at dressy gold. Even the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak view, by design or accident, addressed two seemingly incompatible markets a timepiece that could endure the golf program, a yachting regatta or a chukka but that possessed such style and elegance that it may nestle under a white shirt cuff and dinner coat.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has maintained its position at the pinnacle of this luxe-sports-watch hierarchy for over 40 years by evolving by the near-Bauhaus simplicity of their first to the macho Royal Oak Offshore, as favoured by Arnold Schwarzenegger. This season, Audemars Piguet introduced a smorgasbord of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches, encompassing a choice of valuable metals and other materials, if the first’s stainless steel seem that bit too prosaic. Which could be missing the point, as the Royal Oak would be to luxury watches what a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen would be to limousines. For a number of us, steel is the real deal.
Highlights for the season include the 26270 Evolution from the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Collection, in steel or rose gold, together with satin-brushed bezel along with the inimitable waffle-pattern dial. The stealthy all-black 42mm Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph contains ceramic details and a black crocodile strap for an extra bit of elegance. The all-pink-gold version on a matching link bracelet is so tasty that it makes the wearer feel as a certain king having an alchemist’s touch. Or you might go all-white with the Offshore Diver white ceramic case, white rubber strap, white waffle dial.
There is no longer just a Royal Oak however a Royal Oak family. For watch fans who have succumbed to the lure of this luxury luxury sports opinion, it’s most likely the royal household, too.