The Royal Oak, with its masculine octagonal case, exposed screws, and integrated bracelet is one of the most distinctive watches in the market today. It is imposing and recognizable, and in my opinion, one of the best statement watches money can buy.
The Royal Oak is not only famous for what it looks like, but also for how it was introduced. First released in the ’70s, the original Ref. 5402 was a bold stainless steel watch designed by Gerald Genta that created shockwaves. It was designed as a luxury sports watch and the scandalous part was that it was priced accordingly- the same as an equivalent gold watch of its era.
People just could not accept that a pedestrian material such as steel could be priced so exorbitantly and consequently, it was not very popular. It was only after some time that the public saw this as something genuinely original and avant-garde. Today though, in line with the craze for stainless steel, the Royal Oak is an icon.
While it has always been about the ‘Jumbo’ or larger-sized Royal Oaks, in recent times, there has been a growing appreciation for mid-sized examples, namely what you see here today, the Ref. 14790. This is certainly in line with the large watch trend ending as collectors are beginning to appreciate proportionate and more elegantly sized watches. Since the reference’s introduction in the late 1980s, Audemars Piguet had designated the ref. 14790 as a canvas to experiment with different metal combinations and dial designs, in order to appeal to a wider audience at the time.
The ref. 14790 I have here today is quite an unusual one, the two-toned case features an unconventional combination of a rare material called tantalum and 18ct rose gold. Tantalum is a material that is almost as heavy as platinum and it is more commonly used in aerospace and medical fields. This material is notoriously difficult to work with, which is probably why you don’t see too many brands utilize it in their horological creations. What you do get though, is a tone, unlike any other material. It is much darker than stainless steel and lighter and heftier than black ceramic. Alongside this, it is the unmistakable blue sheen of tantalum that attracts so many collectors. It is hard to explain and only really understood when seen in person.
The fact that Audemars Piguet pushed for a case combination like this one speaks to their approach at the time. Needless to say, the case is an impressive example of craftmanship as expected of Audemars Piguet, with a rose gold bezel, crown, and center links. The subtle contrast between both metals complemented each other ever so elegantly. Sized in 36mm, the ref. 14790 sits fantastically on the wrist and is certainly not too small.
The dial is also rather unusual, as many of you are probably aware, most Royal Oaks come with a tapisserie guilloche on the dial. This reference here features a brushed slate grey dial with some slight texturing on the surface, which integrates effortlessly with the overall aesthetic of the ref. 14790.
The ref. 14790 is also powered by the in-house caliber 2225 movement, which was derived from JLC’s Cal. 889.
With its exceedingly rare case configuration and gorgeous proportions, this two-toned ref. 14790 will no doubt make for an exquisite addition to even the most zealous of Royal Oak collectors.