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, which is 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.
What we have on offer here today isn’t exactly the ref. 14790, but rather, a derivative design from the reference. This is the ref. 15127BA and it is unlike any Royal Oak I have ever seen before, with the exception of the fact that it bears some resemblance to the ref. 14790ST Military dial. That being said, this is a rather rare and uncommon Royal Oak which features a two-toned dial with luminous Arabic “military-style” numerals. Not much can be said about this particular reference due to its unusual configuration and rarity except for the fact that this was introduced in the early 2000s as a limited edition of 32 pieces. Yes, it is an extremely rare example.
On the dial, you will find Audemars Piguet’s signature tapisserie guilloche partially implemented at the center. It also features a date window at the 3 o ‘clock position and signed “Royal Oak” at the 6 o ‘clock position. As far as proportions go, it shares all the hallmarks of the ref. 14790 in terms of its modest 36mm case diameter, and an in-house 36-jewel caliber 2225 movement, which was derived from JLC’s Cal. 889.
This is probably something not many collectors are used to seeing in the secondary market due to its rarity and unusual configuration, but that is exactly why this ref. 15127BA is so special. Furthermore, what makes this example even more special is that the previous, original owner bought it new in the 2000’s and kept it in the safe. It remains wrapped in its original plastic and is in brand new condition. If you are a collector who enjoys watches that is somewhat off the beaten path, I suggest you take a closer look at this ref. 15127BA.