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 recognisable, 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 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 sport 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, Audemars Piguet has not only expanded the Royal Oak line to include other materials, but has managed to make this model their flagship and an icon.
Of late, while the Royal Oak itself has been immensely in demand, the discontinued perpetual calendars have been right at the top of it. This example is a special reference, as denoted by the ‘SP’ ending, meaning that it is made of both stainless steel and platinum. The shiny, polished finish is platinum while the brushed surfaces are steel. I have handled a fair few perpetual calendar Royal Oaks and I must say that the inclusion of platinum really adds some nice weight and heft to it. Furthermore, the high polish finish of the platinum bezel and center links really stands out and has a huge presence on the wrist. While it is quite unusual for these two materials to be used on the same watch, it seems that this trait is somewhat of a Royal Oak thing, as AP still does this today on the newer 15202IP.
With a 39mm case, it sits much better on the wrist than the newer 41mms, with not only better proportions but also being more faithful to the original. In fact, the movement inside this watch is the same you will find on the Jumbo models as it is the legendary JLC Cal. 2120 with a perpetual calendar module built on top. As a result, this watch shares the same thickness as the 15202 with a slightly thicker bezel to accommodate the perpetual calendar module. For such a complicated watch that takes into account how many days each month has, including leap years, this is truly impressive.
Part of the reason why there is a renewed interest in perpetual calendar Royal Oaks is because AP themselves have been releasing many of their iconic new models with this collection, from the black and white ceramic models, including the most recent open-worked version, and of course the insane RD2 ultra, ultra-thin. With all of this hype, collectors have begun to realize just how special the early perpetual calendars are and how rare they are, with extremely low production numbers.
This Royal Oak 25820SP is certainly a collector’s piece and a truly high-end complicated watch that will stand out in any collection.