Regardless of whether or not you’re into all things that glitter, it can’t be denied that 2017’s SIHH trends were punctuated by heaps of the 79th element in yellow, white, and frosty hues. And no one had more to show in this camp than Audemars Piguet, whose Extra-Thin Jumbo Royal Oak (reference 15202) in gold didn’t quite steal the spotlight from the showstopping Perpetual Calendar in ceramic, but it certainly came awfully close – especially for those who’ve been following the last 40 or so years of the Royal Oak.
All images by Ariel Adams & David Bredan
As we already start looking forward to 2018’s SIHH novelties, we thought it high time to take a closer look at some of this year’s favorites, which include the gloriously over-the-top 15202, rendered for the first time as a modern, non-limited reference entirely in 18-carat yellow gold. It’s not just the all-gold case that lends the 15202 significance though – there are a few other (albeit much more subtle) visual cues that set this particular reference apart, and might make it more desirable for collectors in the future. Perhaps most obvious, is the simple time and date-only dial configuration, completed by the ‘AP’ logo at 6:00, which pays direct homage to the original steel 5402 released in 1972. This aesthetic also tips its hat towards the yellow gold 5402BA Jumbo released five years later – the first time Audemars Piguet rendered the Jumbo in this precious metal.
However, more noteworthy is the thickness – the new 15202 measures a hair over 8mm, 0.2mm thicker than the original 5402, and the closest we’ve seen to those pioneering ultra-thin measurements since the 40th Anniversary editions from 2012 – hence the ‘Extra Thin’ naming convention. This new-but-really-old profile, coupled with the eminently wearable 39mm case size truly feels like the sweet spot for the Royal Oak, and has much to do with why this iconic design was able to become such a future-proof classic in the first place.
The Jumbo Royal Oak in its most classic configuration is a watch that historically, by all measurements, should wear exceptionally thin. However, this new reference is one that still manages to jump off the wrist, thanks to its solid yellow gold case, and light-gobbling “Petite Tapisserie” tonal champagne colored waffle dial. Those looking for a slightly more toned-down aesthetic still rendered in this precious metal will appreciate the second of the 15202’s two new dial variations: a gorgeous blue, which, given the spate of blue-on-bronze sports watches we’ve seen this year, is as much on-trend, as it is slightly less ostentatious.
This is a wristwatch that’s so known to many of you, perhaps it doesn’t need much of an analysis — but this really is HODINKEE and you’ll be able to think you are gonna get one. The Royal Oak Chronograph is a watch that has tens of thousands of fans the world over, and a few detractors, also. The Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore families often appeal to quite different people, but I will get to that shortly. In this review, I handle a mainstay in the AP lineup, along with also an interesting piece of haute horology, though one without its own in-house motion. I will have a look at just how this 41mm column-wheel, vertical clutch chronograph wears, and whether the matter of where the movement came from is even something worth noting in any way. This is the HODINKEE Week On The Wrist using the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, and it’s one worth spending a while with.AP is a really unique watch manufacture. It is one of the few global haute horology brands that remains in the control of its founding family, with different members of their Audemars family still sitting on its board. However, the possession of AP is not always the most interesting side of this 175 year-old manufacture — the question that matters is who buys AP’s watches?
Despite the svelte profile though, the gold 15202 is a surprisingly heavy watch. This tactile illusion is due, of course to the fact that gold’s density is nearly three times that of stainless steel, lending the assertive wrist presence of a much larger sports watch to one that can otherwise slide easily beneath the cuff of a dress shirt. When you look at the bracelet and case when considering the weight of the gold, the slim profile but solid gold look presents a contrasted personality that works well. It’s safe, but a modern design icon in an old-school material.
From the dial-side, the look and feel of the 15202 is distinctly classic – like a vintage re-issue of the original 5402 in gold. Inside though, beats a different story. Here we have the Caliber 2121, now produced in-house by Audemars Piguet (in the Royal Oak’s formative years, the 2121 was actually produced by Jaeger LeCoultre). It’s an ultra-thin automatic movement measuring 3.05mm thick, and characterized by a unique 2.75Hz (19,800 vibrations per hour), though that slightly lower-than-average alternance isn’t readily visible as the 15202 doesn’t feature a running seconds hand. Unlike the 5402 that inspired it, the 15202 gets a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback, through which the cal. 2121’s 21-carat gold rotor is visible, as it glides back and forth on the circular rail running the circumference of the movement – one of the tricks enabling the 2121’s signature thinness.
In total, the 15202 will be available in three variants – the new gold options (yellow gold on champagne yellow, or yellow gold on blue) join the existing stainless steel 15202 which was re-introduced back in 2012. While the stainless steel Extra-Thin Jumbo Royal Oak starts at roughly $22,000, those looking to ‘stay gold’ can expect to part with over double that – $55,000 for the 18-carat gold variants. audemarspiguet.com