How the AP Royal Oak changed watchmaking forever

Did you know that the origins of the modern luxury sports watch is based on the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet?

Back in time to the 1970s, watch collecting wasn’t a thing yet. Watches were simply a tool with no intrinsic worth. Somehow, someone had to make people believe that watches did more than just tell the time. That was the vision of up-and-coming watch designer Gérald Genta, the man who said, ‘Watches, to me, are the opposite of freedom. I am an artist, a painter, I hate the constraint of time. It annoys me.’

From Function to form

It was this fresh vision that allowed the transition of watchmaking from function to form. When Audemars Piguet unveiled the Royal Oak in 1972, luxury timepieces were usually small and made of gold, but the brand broke these rules, forever defying with conventions, with this first luxury sports timepiece honed from steel. Its powerful look ushered in a revolutionary avant-garde style, that has since become its trademark. 

What’s ridiculous is that Genta was given only one day to design the Royal Oak concept. But that wasn’t enough. There needed to be something more. And there was: the price. The AP Royal Oak was one of the most expensive watches anyone had ever seen. It did, in fact, cost ten times more than the Rolex Submariner of the time.

The inspiration

Genta was inspired by the window in a diver’s helmet, but not just for the aesthetics, but for the engineering as well. Like the helmet, the Royal Oak uses compression to seal it from water, the bezel screws penetrating all the way through the case and clamping the sandwich of parts together.

Across its nigh on 50 years of its existence, this modern horological icon upholds the innovation and excellence embodied by Audemars Piguet. As per current statistics, the Swiss luxury watch company is among the very few surviving family-owned establishments of its kind.

Today, a Royal Oak is an indispensable statement piece that should not be missing from a well-organized luxury closet of anyone, man or woman. 

The first thing that you notice when you start to use the Royal Oak is the beauty of the light that reflects off of the polished surfaces. 

The appeal of luxury sport watches is their great versatility and ease of use. They go well with casual clothing because they are sport watches, but they also look good in formal situations when you wear a suit or a dress. 

In fact, Audemars Piguet is one of the most sought-after watch brands in the world, with fans that include celebrities, politicians, and royalty.
And deservedly so. 

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