Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Mini Frosted Gold

Comeback of the Century: Audemars Piguet Revives Royal Oak Mini

Who says bigger is always better?

By Cait Bazemore

When Gérald Genta first created the Royal Oak in 1972, the model’s bold design had a distinctly masculine flair because while the 39mm watch was not oversized by today’s standards, it was for the time. However, by 1976, just four short years later, Audemars Piguet knew it wanted to create a more feminine counterpart, but one that went beyond making a smaller iteration of Genta’s creation.

To accomplish this, the brand enlisted Jacqueline Dimier, who had been appointed AP’s head of design in 1975. She went on to reimagine Genta’s design in a way that retained its innovative and unmistakable character while infusing it with lightness and femininity.

Like the original Royal Oak, Dimier’s 29mm Royal Oak II reference 8683 marked another first for luxury sports watches: To this day, the 8683 and its gem-set counterpart (the reference 8756) are the smallest self-winding Royal Oak models ever made.

Since then, Audemars Piguet has continued to develop the Royal Oak for women with collaborations like that with fourth-generation jeweler Carolina Bucci. She, unforgettably, created the first “frosted gold” edition of the iconic model back in 2016.

Now, with Audemars Piguet’s powerhouse female leadership of Ilaria Resta as the global CEO and Ginny Wright as the CEO of North America, it comes as no surprise the brand remains at the forefront of creating watches for the female collector base.

So, make way for the comeback of the Royal Oak Mini, now with the beloved “frosted” treatment!

A Look Back at the Royal Oak Mini

The history of the Royal Oak Mini traces back to the 1980s when newly introduced miniaturized quartz movements opened new horizons for compact, high-performance watches. Thus, in 1980, Audemars Piguet launched a 26mm quartz version of the Royal Oak and an even smaller 24.5mm iteration six years later.

Eventually, the brand’s exploration of miniaturization culminated in 1997 in conjunction with the model’s monumental 25th anniversary. That year, AP unveiled the smallest Royal Oak ever made, the reference 67075, which measured just 20mm. This model was powered by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s calibre 2601, which was not only the thinnest quartz movement of its time but also one of the world’s smallest movements of any kind.

The 67075 was produced in a limited run of 1,254 pieces with 465 in stainless steel, 328 in yellow gold, 272 steel and yellow gold two-tone, a mere 101 in white gold, and only 88 in rose gold. Then, later that year, AP added two gem-set iterations of the miniature model.

Today, AP has reinterpreted this tiny take on the instantly recognizable model with new proportions, architecture, design, and performance.

The 2024 Royal Oak Mini: A Symphony of Light

For the latest incarnation, we get a slightly larger 23mm build in the choice of either 18-karat yellow, white, or pink gold, each with a color-matched dial resulting in a sleek, monochromatic look. In addition, each of these small but mighty timekeepers gets the gorgeous, hammered “frosted gold” treatment, adding a subtle texture and depth that allows these models to toe the line between watches and jewelry.

Remember: The “frosted gold” technique has roots in the jewelry world, drawing inspiration from an ancient Florentine method of hammering small indentations into the metal surface using a diamond-tipped tool. The resulting effect gives the metal surface a distinct shimmer, like the sparkle of precious stones without any gem setting.

While the modest sizing and “frosted” technique undoubtedly give the new Royal Oak Mini models a feminine edge, the architecture of the iconic model remains intact.

In fact, the contrast of the “diamond dust” effect of the “frosted gold” juxtaposed against the polished bevels that outline the signature octagonal bezel and the individual links of the tapered bracelet create an endless play of light that is surprisingly pleasing to the eye. Moreover, the contrast of the satin finish on the case and bracelet flanks creates further depth, all within the tiny real estate of just 23mm. Who says bigger is always better?

The play with texture and pattern while maintaining a tonal color palette continues into the design of the dial. Each is color-matched to the corresponding metal. However, thanks to the trademark “petite tapisserie” motif, the play with light and shadow extends to the dial surface and further contributes to the incredible dimensionality of these mini monochromatic timepieces.

The Internal Maestro

Finally, because the efficiency of the self-winding mechanism diminishes significantly below a diameter of 29mm, the new Royal Oak Mini models are time-only and powered by the calibre 2730 quartz movement, which offers a battery life of seven years.

Interestingly, the watches are also equipped with a “switch” – activated by pulling out the crown – that allows you to deactivate the battery whenever the watch isn’t on your wrist to better preserve the battery life.

Pricing & Availability

The all-new Royal Oak Mini Frosted Gold Quartz models in yellow, white, and pink gold are available as you read this.

For more information, including pricing, visit the Audemars Piguet website.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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