Top Lots from Phillips’ The Royal Oak 50th Auction from Two Audemars Piguet Collectors
Team Watchonista members and Royal Oak collectors Vincent Brasesco and J.J. Owens are back to choose their favorites from the upcoming Phillips auction.
To commemorate the iconic timepiece designed by Gérald Genta, our friends at Phillips have curated a Royal Oak 50th anniversary auction so iconic it would impress the man himself. And comprising modern and vintage Royal Oaks, this catalog, which gets auctioned off tomorrow, May 6th, in Geneva, is pure collector candy.
Now 50 years old – the Royal Oak is a stainless steel masterpiece that didn’t just change the way we think of steel sports watches, but it redefined the maison of Audemars Piguet forever.
As passionate vintage collectors ourselves, we had a trouble choosing only a few lots to highlight because, quite honestly, the entire auction – from start to finish – is the perfect representation of one of the most legendary watch models in history. Nevertheless, here are some of our favorites!
Lot 67: Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in Black Ceramic, Ref. 26579CE
There is a lot of perpetual calendar-love throughout this auction, but why shouldn’t it there be? A perpetual calendar is one of the most impressive complications a watch can have. So, when it is housed in one of the most iconic case designs in watchmaking history, praise seems like a natural result.
The first Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars date to 1984, but the Reference 26579CE of lot 67 represents an ultra-modern expression of the complication. The black ceramic truly highlights the machinist faceting of the bezel and bracelet while also providing a lightweight and comfortable wearing watch. Surely a contender for the wrist of Batma… We mean Bruce Wayne.
Lot 32: Royal Oak Jumbo Ref. 5402ST
Often imitated, never duplicated; lot 32 is the OG Royal Oak reference. And while there are several Ref. 5402s in this auction (including a Royal Oak Serial Number 2), this Ref. 5402ST is a full-set, untouched example of a watch more often worn and enjoyed than stored away.
Nothing against a modern Royal Oak, but no bracelet is as buttery-smooth and comfortable as a 5402's. Plus, along with its original box and papers, lot 32 is still an “A” series from the first production run of the Royal Oak, so it’s bound to be a better value than the earlier serial numbers!
Lot 80: Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar “Openworked” Ref. 25829ST
What’s cooler than a Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar? An openworked Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar. What’s even more exciting is that the Reference 25829ST featured in lot 80 – one of just 371 25829STs made over 17 years – is not only in incredible condition but has all of its original accoutrements.
The dial side is finished with Feuille hands, which is unusually formal for a sports watch, and the backside is equally finished, hand-engraved with a hidden “A” and “P” on the openworked rotor. No doubt, lot 80 is one of those watches that you could stare at every day and always discover something new.
Lots 58 & 87: White Gold & Emerald-Set Friendship Bracelets
Call it the kid in me, but I have always loved friendship bracelets. Combine that with my love of watches, and you have the undeniable pair of lots 58 and 87.
Both stunningly set with diamonds and emeralds, these white gold wonders are true representations of AP’s gem-setting capabilities. Lot 87 was beautifully crafted with almost fifteen carats worth of diamonds, showcasing all the exquisite excess for which the ‘90s was known.
Though I highly doubt Aurel Bacs will give bidders a BOGO-esque deal, I surely hope these two lots stay together, best Royal Oak friends forever.
Lot 12: Stainless Steel Red Dial
Never before in my decade-plus of collecting had I seen a red dial Royal Oak, and lot 12’s 3rd Series from 2002 is an instant favorite. With the Royal Oak being one of my favorite watches and red being my favorite color, this 36mm watch strikes the perfect note.
One of the most comfortable watches in arguably the most wearable size, lot 12 is the perfect reminder of how playful Audemars Piguet has been and continues to be. Very few brands were taking risks with colored dials in 2002, yet AP, once again, proved itself to be ahead of the trend.
We Aren’t Stopping…
Check back in with Watchonista in a few weeks for a roundup of our favorite lots from Auction Month!
The Royal Oak 50th Auction takes place on Friday, May 6th, in Geneva, Switzerland. For the complete catalog, please visit the Phillips website.
(Photography Vincent Brasesco. Lead image – Phillips Watches)