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.
The initial watch is a re-edition of the very earliest Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph from 1993. 26237ST remains very much faithful to the first. It includes a 42mm stainless steel case and bracelet and a blue “Petite Tapisserie” dial. Like the first, the re-edition also has blue rubber pushers for the chronograph and a screw-down crown. Water-resistance is 100m. The principal differences which we may see between this 2018 version and the original are very subtle, namely from the seconds track and ‘Swiss Made’ print onto the periphery of the dial.Inside that the re-edition Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph beats the Caliber 3126/3840, exactly the same movement used in other modern Royal Oak Offshore chronograph watches. Apart from the moment, needless to say, this motion comprises chronograph and date complications, even a 22k gold strand, beats at 3Hz, also has a power reserve of 50 hours.Fortunately, it is not all teary-eyed past-reviving that is occurring at this anniversary — kudos to AP for that. 26421ST and 26421OR, which have a completely new layout in two different case materials.
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