This week’s watch is as iconic as it is collectible, the original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo
Undoubtedly you are already familiar with the modern day Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore models from Audemars Piguet. After all they have become one of the most recognizable and popular mechanical sports watches for men, coveted by aficionados and amateurs alike.
What you may not know however was that the original 5402ST model was first introduced all the way back in 1972. Designed by Gerald Genta – one of the greatest designers of modern day watchmaking – the Royal Oak was the first sports watch of its type.
The Royal Oak Jumbo featured a distinctive octagonal screwed bezel, inspired by a ship’s porthole, which was considered unusual to say the least. Even more unthinkable though was the fact that the watch was made entirely out of stainless steel, and yet cost more than many of 18k gold timepieces Audemars Piguet were selling at the time.
This was the birth of an entirely new type of luxury sports watch and one that was outrageously more expensive than any of its nearest competitors. It was a bold move – some even say a last ditch effort to stave off bankruptcy –and yet fast-forward 40-odd years and this ‘vision’ has helped Audemars Piguet become a power-house in the industry, creating an icon in the process.
The watch we are featuring today was one of the first 1,000 of these game-changing Royal Oaks every created, as indicated by the serial number “A616” engraved into the solid caseback, produced in 1972.
Following on from the original’s success a second series of 1000 Royal Oak “A” serial numbers was produced by Audemars Piguet before they progressed on to the “B” series, “C” series, and so on. Had this first collection not performed so remarkably well however it could have been a very different outcome for the centuries-old brand.
As you might have guessed therefore, it is the very first series that is the most desirable to collectors. The model shown here features an original “A” series dial, with the AP logo above the 6 o’clock, and reads “Swiss” below the 6 o’clock.
Inside the stainless steel case beats an ultra thin automatic caliber that was developed in conjunction with Jaeger-LeCoultre. Called the 920 by JLC and the 2121 by AP, this same movement was later used by Patek Philippe in its own Gerald Genta designed steel sport watch, the Nautilus.
What is perhaps the single most important feature of today’s watch though is the bracelet. This is because the Royal Oak Jumbo was one of the first watches to ever feature an integrated bracelet, meaning it attaches directly to the case. Made by a Geneva manufacturer by the name of Gay Frères, the bracelets are known for being very thin and for their ability to be stretched.
What’s important to note here though is that only the original A-series Royal Oaks were produced with this specific bracelet. As such Audemars Piguet do not hold additional stock, meaning they cannot be replaced, making this particular A Series Royal Oak Jumbo all the more desirable.
Make It Yours
Available for sale right now from Christie’s Private Watch sales, this Audemars Piguet Ref 5042ST Royal Oak Jumbo can be yours for US$24,000.
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