As we already begin looking forward to 2018’s SIHH novelties, we thought it high time to take a closer look at a few of this season’s favorites, including the gloriously over-the-top 15202, left for the very first time as a contemporary, non-limited reference entirely from 18-carat yellow gold. It is not merely the all-gold case that lends the 15202 significance though — there are a few additional (albeit much more subtle) visual cues that set this particular reference aside, and might make it more desirable for collectors in the future. Probably most obvious, is the very simple time plus date-only dial configuration, done by the ‘AP’ emblem at 6:00, which pays direct homage to the original steel 5402 published in 1972. This aesthetic also tips its hat towards the yellow gold 5402BA Jumbo introduced five decades later — the very first time Audemars Piguet rendered the Jumbo inside this precious metal.However, more noteworthy is the thickness — the brand new 15202 steps a hair over 8mm, 0.2mm thicker than the original 5402, and the closest we have seen to those pioneering ultra-thin measurements since the 40th Anniversary editions from 2012 — thus the ‘Extra Thin’ naming convention. This new-but-really-old profile, coupled with all the eminently wearable 39mm case size truly feels just like the sweet place for your Royal Oak, and has much to do with why this iconic design managed to become this kind of future-proof classic in the first place.The Jumbo Royal Oak in its classic configuration is a wristwatch that historically, with dimensions, should wear exceptionally thin. People who are searching for a slightly more toned-down aesthetic still rendered in this metal will love the next of those 15202’s two new dial variants: a stunning blue, which, given the spate of blue-on-bronze sports watches we have seen this year, is as much on-trend, since it’s a bit less ostentatious.
During SIHH 2016, Audemars Piguet released two Royal Oak Frosted Gold watches – a 33mm quartz version and a 37mm automatic one. For those who enjoy some bling in their watches and a larger case size, the brand has a added a 41mm limited edition option, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold 41mm watch, to the line.
The “frosted gold” used in the making of the case and the bracelet is prepared using a hammering technique by Italian jeweler, Carolina Bucci. The metal is frosted after the components are shaped but before assembly, much like other decorative techniques. For those of you who are curious, Audemars Piguet has a short video which shows a few fleeting seconds of the process underway here – note that this isn’t done by a wise, old watchmaker behind a desk but by an efficient machine.
Sometimes one can get lost in the seductive illusion that more is done by hand than, in reality, is possible with certain techniques and modern expectations for tolerances. The frosting gives the gold a shiny effect similar to that of having diamond powder on the surface, just less reflective. The bezel edges are polished and case edges beveled for some additional pop in between the frosting, and the caseband is brushed (perhaps there is such a thing as too much bling). The “frosted” finishing is not often seen in cases (movement parts and dials, more often), which makes this an interesting and unusual look that should probably be viewed in person to determine just how attractive/wearable/masculine/blingy or otherwise it is. Aside from the use of the frosted gold, this is essentially the blue-dial version of the time-only Royal Oak that we’ve come to know in various forms over the years since Gerald Genta designed it.
While the previous smaller variants were offered in white and rose gold, this 41mm Royal Oak will only be available in white gold. It has the blue tapisserie dial with a matching blue date window. I always thought the Royal Oak shined best with a blue (not white) dial. The hands and applied markers are gold, of course, and filled with a sliver of Super-LumiNova to make the watch legible at night. The bracelet is the familiar and very comfortable design. Like the 37mm frosted gold sibling, it is powered by the automatic caliber 3120, which offers 60 hours of power reserve, beats at 3Hz, and has the customary, solid 22ct gold, decorated monobloc rotor – all of which is visible through a display caseback.
Those wanting to stock up on some bling will have to hurry as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold 41mm is limited to 200 pieces only. If you happen to miss out, you could always console yourself by purchasing a set of Royal Oak cufflinks that the brand released with the watch. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold 41mm is available at retailers and boutiques for $55,000 and a pair of the cufflinks will set you back $4,200 for the gold and $1,600 for steel. audemarspiguet.com