This is a wristwatch that is so known to many of youpersonally, it may not need much of an analysis — but this is HODINKEE and you’ll be able to believe you’re gonna get one. The Royal Oak Chronograph is a watch which has tens of thousands of fans the world over, and a couple of detractors, also. The Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore families frequently appeal to quite different individuals, but I will get to this shortly. In this review, I handle a mainstay at the AP lineup, along with also an intriguing piece of haute horology, though one with no in-house motion. I will look at just how this 41mm column-wheel, vertical clutch chronograph wears, and if the issue of where the movement came out of is something worth noting in any way. That is your HODINKEE Week About The Wrist with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, and it’s one worth spending a while with.AP is really a unique watch manufacture. It’s one of the very few worldwide haute horology brands that remains in the hands of its founding family, with different members of their Audemars family sitting on its board. But, the possession of AP is not necessarily the most interesting facet of this 175 year-old fabrication — the question that matters is who purchases AP’s watches?
Audemars Piguet introduced the Royal Oak Frosted Gold last year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first ladies’ Royal Oak, yet the watch garnered significant attention from a male audience despite being aimed squarely at women. In fact, at SIHH earlier this year, AP boss Francois-Henry Bennahmias was wearing a prototype men’s Royal Oak ref. 15400 with the same frosted gold finish. As anticipated, the prototype has made it into production – in a limited edition, no less.
That “frosted” decoration is the result of a collaboration between the Le Brassus watchmaker and Florentine jeweller Carolina Bucci, whose signature technique involves hammering gold with a diamond-tipped tool to create minute indentations on the surface. The result is a fine, tactile and sparkly finish – a decidedly modern approach that mimics the look of gem-encrustation without the jewels.
Understandably, applying this jewellery technique to the angular lines of the Gérald Genta-design came with its challenges. The team had to ensure that the finishing would neither alter the clean lines of the hallmark octagonal bezel nor the fluidity of the bracelet. Consequently, the finishing has to be applied by hand to individual components one at a time. In effect, this hand-finishing technique ensures that each watch is different.
The Frosted Gold watches were originally only available in 33m and 37mm versions for ladies, which were equipped with a quartz calibre and the automatic cal. 3120 respectively. Now the 41mm Frosted Gold for men is powered by the in-house cal. 3120 automatic. It is available only in white gold with a blue “Grande Tapisserie” dial.
Price and Availability
The Royal Oak Frosted Gold for men (ref. 15410BC.GG.1224BC.01) is a limited edition of 200 pieces, and is priced at US$55,000.