A Closer Look: Audemars Piguet’s New Novelties From The Perspective Of A Royal Oak Collector
Our resident Audemars Piguet collector, J.J. Owens, gives her unique take on the watchmaker’s newest novelties and what’s next for the brand.
The first month of the new year gave all watch enthusiasts much to be excited about. But leave it to those in Le Brassus to tease us with just a precursor to what’s in store for the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary year.
With a “love at first sight” collecting mentality, the latest novelties from Audemars Piguet are pure perfection for those like myself, who value aesthetics and artistry a little more than mechanics and technical specifications.
The Technicalities, Simplified
As previously mentioned in our first article about Audemars Piguet’s latest releases, my colleague Steven Rogers pointed out that a few design changes were made to the January novelties that improved the watches’ ergonomics, specifically wearability and case comfort.
The most chatted-about change: the reference 15202 (the 39mm “Jumbo”) is being replaced by the reference 16202, featuring the new self-winding calibre 7121. The new calibre, developed over the past few years, offers a longer power reserve and allows for a thinner case due to its slimmer design.
The devil is in the details, as always, but for me, the most exciting aspect of Audemars Piguet’s latest release is the aesthetics. Technically my favorite movement-related detail isn’t movement-related at all; the “50 Years” writing featured in each 2022 model’s oscillating rotor instantly brought a smile to my face…an admittedly harder task the more you collect.
As someone who collects both vintage and modern Royal Oaks, its secret details such as that which make brand loyalists feel as though they are still a part of a special club. With more and more notoriety coming to Audemars Piguet as of late, it’s a detail that whispers, “If you know, you know.” Owning a Royal Oak is incredibly special but owning one from the brand’s jubilee anniversary is #groals (grail + goals).
The Golden Girl
When our Senior Photographer, Liam O’Donnell, sent the Watchonista office a photo of the new reference 16202BA Royal Oak, everyone lost it. Both our new US Director, Vincent Brasesco, and I immediately made our love for it known.
Then, Andrew Luff, our CEO, joked, “We will have to fight over it.” I cannot emphasize this enough: this watch is where vintage and modern Audemars Piguet fans intersect – as evidenced by the questionable office comradery.
The smoked petite tapisserie dial is a true work of art. The brassing effect executed on this Jumbo model signifies just how talented the craftsmen at Audemars Piguet are. The look is accomplished via a process in which the dial is sprayed with a colored varnish, a technique almost unfathomable to a person whose artistry begins and ends with stress-releasing coloring books.
An ode to the past, yet with all the brand’s modern advancements, the 16202BA Royal Oak is one of the best-looking gold timepieces in recent memory. Though steel watches tend to reign supreme in today’s collector’s circles, I would confidently put this Royal Oak up against any of its steel counterparts. A favorite amongst many, this yellow gold novelty is one I can’t wait to see out in the wild, or better yet, at New York’s soon-to-open Audemars Piguet House.
A New Ice Queen
With a permanent focus on one of the brand’s most coveted models, let alone the 50th anniversary Bleu Nuit dial edition, my gaze shifted to reference 15550 (the 37mm Royal Oak) – and not just because of the size but also the stunning icy blue dial.
Now the debate is to either reference Frozen or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and well, it’s no surprise I am going with Bravo! “Some people call me cold, but that’s not ice. It’s diamonds.” And in the case of the 15550, it can be both!
Whether you want the bezel to feature diamonds or not is completely your prerogative, but my gosh, isn’t having the option exceptional? Perfect for the sea or snow, I hope this isn’t the last we are seeing of the icy blue varieties.
A Proud Member of Club Two-Tone
I like to believe I am a founding member of Club Two-Tone, specifically the Royal Oak chapter. Firm on my argument that the Royal Oak is the most wearable watch out there, the two-tone 15550 model is a no-brainer, especially in 37mm.
With an updated bracelet – made to accentuate its shape – the lighter bracelet hits home the ergonomic adjustments. Featuring the 50th anniversary caseback IYKYK attribute, this rose gold and steel 37mm Royal Oak is a contender for the concept of a “one watch collection.” As versatile as it is notable, I think more people will be joining Club Two-Tone with the 15550.
The Best is Yet to Come
Having been thoroughly taken by the brand’s January releases, one thing is for sure: the best is yet to come for the 50th anniversary year of the Royal Oak. With the opening of Audemars Piguet House in New York in a few months, as well as an Audemars Piguet-only auction from our friends at Phillips, 2022 will be the year of Audemars Piguet.
Finally, the brand is also increasing production, with plans to allocate much of that increase to new clients. It’s a bold strategy, but it demonstrates the brand’s desire to expand from both a revenue standpoint and a customer-base perspective. With unprecedented growth on the watchmaker’s horizon, one thing is for sure: like a fine wine, they are just getting better with age.