Some call them the ‘watch maker’s watch makers’, which is like going to the office on Monday and there’s a new person and they say, “I’m your boss’s boss”.
Vacheron is the oldest (founded in 1755) and Patek is arguably the most prestigious.
But AP reinvented the sports watch as we know it with the creation of one of the most iconic and sought-after timepieces available: the Royal Oak.
Prices have skyrocketed and the buzz around this piece is incredible – it feels like the world would’ve stopped turning if AP hadn’t invented the Royal Oak.
A lot of it is emotivity and passion, but there’s also a little bit of logic behind it and that’s why we’ve listed three reasons why the Royal Oak is such an icon.
1. It simply looks great
It is named after a British Royal Navy battleship and the inspiration for the design comes from a diver’s helmet, which is what made it immediately recognizable with its octagonal shape and the visibile screws.
That was intentional, by the way, to give a sturdy, ‘tough’ look.
It’s elegant, slim (the original model was only 7 mm) and the size felt just right in the 1970s as it feels right today.
It’s memorable without being crazy, understated but not plain and it looks like it was designed yesterday even though it was designed 50 years ago.
2. It changed the definition of a “Swiss Made sports watch”
It was launched in 1972, back when the Swiss watch industry was struggling to keep up with Japanese watch brands.
Japan was focusing on cheaper, more reliable and more accurate battery-powered watches, whereas the Swiss only made expensive automatics.
Genta decided to stick to automatic watches – a risky move – but he made the Royal Oak shockproof and water-resistant.
Instead of using gold or other precious metals, he used stainless steel.
As a result, the Royal Oak became the go-to wristwatch you can wear during the day, lounging by the pool, going back to your hotel room right after, and keeping the watch on your wrist while you shower, and then pair it with a tuxedo for dinner.
3. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak stayed relevant
The original recipe was simple: a no-nonsense automatic watch with a date and that’s it.
This made it survive various trends throughout the years and it also provided a blank canvas that AP could use as a starting point to follow market trends.
The design never changed but Audemars Piguet made ceramic, gold and titanium version of the Royal Oak. Then came the chronographs.
The list goes on.
You know The Black Panther, the Marvel character? They even made a version of that.