The hottest luxury watch on the planet is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
Ah, but which Royal Oak? Which one is the most interesting and collectible of all the contemporary, current-production models? My nominee is the ceramic-cased Royal Oak QP.
It features everything that makes a “conventional” (if there is such a thing) Royal Oak so damn good – namely the grande tapisserie dial, the thin profile, the integrated bracelet that’s a work of art unto itself, and of course, the octagonal bezel – but the ceramic-cased RO QP pushes it all to the max. The use of state-of-the-art colored ceramic for the case and bracelet means the entire package is bolder, more recognizable, and more scratch-proof than ever before.
At the same time, inside, the ultra-thin caliber 5134 is able to balance the seemingly disparate realm of the highly technical and the supremely slim, in superlative fashion. Ben was absolutely right when, in 2017, he introduced the inaugural ceramic Royal Oak QP by saying, “I’m calling it right here and right now, this is the hottest watch of SIHH 2017.” Five years later, during the Royal Oak’s ongoing 50th anniversary, the watch is still causing temperatures to rise.
That’s because, earlier today, Audemars Piguet quietly unveiled another scorcher. Following 2017’s original blacked-out ceramic RO QP and the white-ceramic sequel that came two years later, AP has released a new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar (ref. 26579CS.OO.1225CS.01) via its official brand website – and this one comes in blue (!) ceramic for the very first time. Is anyone else sweating or is it just me?
The new, blue Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is mostly identical to its predecessors, sharing an identical ultra-thin self-winding movement (caliber 5134) and case profile (41mm × 9.5mm), with the only major updates coming in the form of the high-tech blue ceramic case and the matching blue color of the grande tapisserie dial. But given how coveted the black and white ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars have become, this one still rates as a big deal.
Details on the new release are currently fairly scarce (in this case, what you see is what we see), but considering the high-profile nature of many of the known owners of previous ceramic RO QPS, it’s safe to say it’s a watch that will land on the wrists of many of AP’s best clients. We’ve previously spotted Draymond Green rocking his white-ceramic example, and everyone from UK rapper Stormzy, French actor Omar Sy, American comedian Kevin Hart, and Norwegian DJ Kygo have been seen with a touch of ceramic on their wrist.
If Tobias Fünke were still around, he’d undoubtedly be first in line for the new one.
The Royal Oak turns 50 this year, and we’ve already had one hell of a party. Remember the new “Jumbo,” ref. 16202? That was only announced to the world in January of this year. Karl Lagerfeld’s Royal Oak came up for auction, and so did Gérald Genta’s. We took a close look at the Royal Oak A2, the oldest known example of the original 15202 reference, and then we went ahead and broke open the entire history of the watch in the latest episode of Reference Points. There’ve already been so many memorable moments dedicated to the Royal Oak this year, and yet today’s announcement might just be my favorite.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has always been controversial. The original 1972 design was just so incredibly, inherently subversive for its era, and somehow a half-century later I find that it continues to stand alone in the luxury sport-watch segment, surrounded by a sea of pretenders. In my view, not a single competitor has come close to channeling both virility and elegance in the same package to the same degree. And the blue-ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar brings out the best of both of those qualities, combining the ultra-hard ceramic material and aggressive styling with the same high-grade movement and the same delicate brushing and polishing of the case and bracelet that Royal Oak collectors expect.
It’s hard not to see a watch like this as a certain type of pinnacle for the Royal Oak anniversary. There’s a futuristic material that’s incredible difficult to work, now combined with one of the most traditional and elaborate complications, all inside of a genuinely iconic package.