Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak has a long history on the auction market and twenty years after the launch of the famous product, Antiquorum auctioned its first Royal Oak timepieces in Geneva at Hotel des Bergues in 1992.
Today, with more than 30 years of archives, Antiquorum has recorded nearly 1,000 Royal Oak watches presented for sale, of which nearly 8 out of 10 were sold, providing the auction house with a very interesting reference on the evolution of this model’s value.
The business explains that Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak is one of the best success stories in contemporary design launched 50 years ago, back in 1972.
Designed by Gerald Genta, the Royal Oak became an iconic wristwatch over the years for watch enthusiasts, collectors, and auctioneers.
First, Audemars Piguet had approached Genta to design a sports watch which remained rare back then. By taking inspiration from vintage diving helmets and applying those visible screws to an octagonal bezel with an integrated bracelet, Genta sketched the design in one night—and the rest was history.
The Royal Oak was first introduced at Baselworld in 1972 and back then was commercialized for CHF 3’650 (around CHF 10’000 today).
First, the timepiece was not a total success as steel sports watches were not sought after but reaches today very high demand and is increasingly elusive.
Romain Rea, CEO of Antiquorum, comments: “Our first 2022 auction took place the 18th of January in Monaco. For the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet, it was unthinkable not to present a piece to celebrate this anniversary, especially in Monaco, where Gerald Genta lived for many years: the brainchild of the esteemed Gerald Genta went under the hammer and was sold for EUR 260’000.”
Antiquorum was pleased to start off the year with a unique selection of timepieces for its Monaco auction at Monaco Yacht Club.
The auction house sold an extremely rare fine tonneau shaped 18k yellow gold self-winding perpetual calendar Royal Oak wristwatch with gold dial.
Audemars Piguet was first known for its perpetual calendar production in pocket watches, but its first-ever perpetual calendar wristwatch was manufactured in 1948.
Only nine examples of its reference 5516 have been produced and very few followed due to the fastidious manufacturing processes at the time.
Back in December 2021 in Hong Kong, Antiquorum sold the most expensive Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in Platinum and 18K Pink Gold on the auction market. Caliber 2120/2800 was launched by Audemars Piguet in 1978 at the height of the quartz crisis.
A World Record was set by Antiquorum a few months ago, during the November auction week in Geneva.
Antiquorum sold, over the higher estimation, this rare, selfwinding, stainless steel perpetual calendar wristwatch.
This memorable timepiece is the most expensive Royal Oak in steel sold on the auction market.
Audemars Piguet confirmed that this example was born with a salmon dial despite the wrong code on the original certificate.
In 1972, Audemars Piguet introduced the Royal Oak with a first batch of 1,000 watches called the “A series” because of the letter A engraved on their case back.
Two years later, additional series were produced under ref. 5204 with the letter A, B, C and D. This model (numbered 344) appears to have been created between the A and B series in 1976 and corresponds to Gerald Genta’s 1972 design.
The case back is signed Royal Oak only, with no number.
Lovers of the Royal Oak will delight with the World Record set at Antiquorum Auction in Monaco last July 2021. This incredible Royal Oak is a historical timepiece as only few examples known, the first one to appear at auction with box and papers.
The watchmaking prowess of “skeletonization” does not leave collectors and watch enthusiasts indifferent. Revealing a part of the internal mechanism is a true horological art.
Audemars Piguet, an expert in this field in the 1930s-1950s, used this skeletonization process on its Royal Oak collection, starting with a pendant version in 1981.
An extraordinary Royal Oak Platinum Skeleton wristwatch went under the hammer in October 1992, at Hotel des Bergues in Geneva.
The timepiece was sold CHF 59’800 back in 1992 and is today estimated to CHF 200’000 according to Arnaud Tellier, Antiquorum expert and Director of Asia-Pacific.
Romain Rea, CEO of Antiquorum, added: “Designed in 1971 by Gerald Genta and produced in 1972, the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet is one of the most iconic contemporary sports chic models in the watchmaking world. Genta’s great intelligence is to insist on the thinness of the watch case: minimizing the space in the case is a feat that watchmakers no longer know how to do. The watch becomes a bracelet, like a piece of jewelry.
Concluding: “This is what makes it a timeless object.”
Nicknamed “Jumbo” by collectors, it owes this nickname to its tonneau-shaped case measuring 39mm, very large for the time.
In November 2020, during the lockdown, Antiquorum sold the most expensive Royal Oak in Yellow Gold.
More than 50 Royal Oak models went under the hammer in 2012, during an exceptional auction at Grand Hotel de Kempinski in Geneva.
For collectors and auctioneers, the Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Jumbo “Serie A” n°88 is one of the oldest serial numbers to have been auctioned.
A small anecdote also concerns the AP logo at 6 o’cl ock as only the A series and about half of the pieces produced for the B series display it.
When the mythic “Jumbo” was born 50 years ago, the timepiece was first criticized for its atypical shape and its 39mm diameter and has since become one of the most mystical watches in the world.
For half a century, the Royal Oak has been manufactured through many iconic designs and today the Manufacture Audemars Piguet pays tribute to the timeless icon of 1972.
Audemars Piguet has reinvented the Caliber 2121, removed from production at the end of 2021, to manufacture the Caliber 7121, a much more powerful and precise caliber.
The new masterpiece, Royal Oak “Jumbo” extra-thin Ref. 16202, rewinds time, offering the same dial as the original timepiece.
The pieces produced in 2022 will benefit from an engraved oscillating weight “50 years”: a future collector piece that we hope to appear under the hammer in the next few auctions at Antiquorum.