Widely recognized as one of the most iconic watches of all time, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak's reputation precedes itself within watch collecting circles. Released in response to the rapidly evolving situation brought about by the Quartz Crisis in the 70s, the Royal Oak's avant-garde design and unconventional use of stainless steel as a luxury sports watch shocked the watchmaking world enough that brands quickly followed suit and brought out their own versions. Since then, the Royal Oak has championed innovation and ingenuity within the watchmaking space.
Originally weighing in at 39mm, the Royal Oak's "Jumbo" case, as it was called, was a hard pill to swallow for a customer base used to AP's classical dress watch designs. However, the Royal Oak eventually found widespread success as collectors began to see the merit in its unusual integrated bracelet, exposed screw-laden octagonal bezel and Petite Tapisserie dial. Following its success over the decades, AP has continued to expand the collection with several evolutions over the years. As a celebration of the old merging with the new, the ref. 15300ST that I have here blends the original Royal Oak's look and feel with modern mechanics that take it a level above the other Royal Oaks that came before it.
Released in the 2000s, the ref. 15300ST introduced an in-house movement for the first time in the Royal Oak's history while retaining the original's 39mm case proportions and its iconic "Petite Tapisserie" dial. Featuring a beautiful blue dial, the variant I have here is both, in equal parts, the rarest variant of the ref. 15300ST, and the most sought-after. Reminiscent of the original Royal Oak ref. 5402, aesthetically speaking, with its blue-grey dial, the ref. 15300ST is a beautiful watch that tugs on the heartstrings of watch collectors around the world. At just 9.4mm tall, the ref. 15300ST is elegant to wear as its 39mm octagonal-shaped case spans the wrist comfortably.
Powered by the cal. 3120, the ref. 15300ST was a serious engineering step-up from the Royal Oaks of the past with an impressive 60-hours of power reserve stemming from a single barrel and a Gyromax balance. Featuring a balance bridge – not a balance cock as was used in the past (and even until recently in models such as the now-discontinued ref. 15202), the cal. 3120 is suitable as a genuine sports watch movement given its additional rigidity and shock resistance. This is due to the balance assembly having two anchor points in the movement, a significant improvement over the single-anchor design that balance cock-set movements employ.
Furthermore, the cal. 3120 features a date mechanism equipped with a safety system that prevents the date disk from malfunctioning if the user resets the date at midnight – two seemingly small changes that improve user experience and introduce modern horology to the collection without overwhelming its sense of identity. A modern take on an iconic design, the ref. 15300ST blends legendary design and modern creature comforts with great effect.