Royal Oak History
Unprecedented interest in luxury sports watches. If you inquire about the origin of modern luxury sports watches, then you will certainly start from Royal Oak of Audemars Piguet.
The original Royal Oak is Ref. The 5402ST was designed by Gérald Genta, a not yet well-known watch designer, in 1971, and was announced at the Basel Watch Fair in 1972.
The name of the model is taken from the Royal Navy’s HMS Royal Oak battleship, and it is said that the unique octagonal bezel was inspired by the portholes of these ships. (However, Genta said that this shape was actually inspired by the deep sea diver’s helmet.) The Royal Navy named the four warships with this name from 1769 to 1914, in fact its roots are deeper. The original Royal Oak was the oak tree that saved the life of Charles II of England. Charles II hid inside, while hiding the prisoners during the 1951 Puritan Revolution. At present, this tree has become a symbol of Britain.
Over the years, many Royal Oak models have been produced, but the model I will introduce here is the original Ref. 5402ST, which enables us to explore the origin of the model, as well as the stainless steel models produced since the 2000s, especially Ref. 15300ST And Ref. 15400ST, they represent the main collection.
1972 – Royal Oak Ref. 5402ST
The original Royal Oak Ref. The 5402ST was manufactured between 1972 and the late 1970s. As part of the first batch of products, there are no alphabetic characters in the manufacturing number. Then, based on slight differences in specifications (such as a buckle or movement), four series were manufactured, labeled A to D.
In the 1970s, Audemars Piguet mainly produced small formal watches equipped with complex mechanical devices. The Royal Oak Watch is its first sports watch and a very innovative watch.
Although it is a sports watch with a water resistance of up to 50 meters, its design is very similar to a wearable watch. Its shell is only 7mm thick. Thickness will inevitably bring better comfort, but it is extremely difficult to have both durability and thickness. Genta achieves this goal by adopting a two-piece structure for the case and placing spacers between the bezel and the case.
The design also contains several unique features. One example is to apply both satin and polished finishes to the one-piece bracelet and stainless steel parts to provide a three-dimensional appearance.
In these respects, Royal Oak is an extremely innovative watch, but it was not highly rated at the time. Its case diameter is 39 mm, which was very large at that time, so it was nicknamed “giant”. Another reason for the poor reception is that although it is made of stainless steel, its price is the same as that of a gold watch.
It took a while for the Royal Oak to be accepted by the market. But this continues to affect many different watches, and today it has become a model that many people dream of.
2005 – Royal Oak Ref. 15300ST
Royal Oak Ref. 15300ST was released in 2005. The stainless steel case has a diameter of 39 mm and a thickness of 9.4 mm. The most notable feature of the design is that a large AP logo is placed at 12 o’clock, and the dial is available in 3 colors: white, black and blue.
The 39mm case size is the same as the original 5402ST and the current Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin 15202ST 39mm, making it a perfect example for people with thinner wrists. The model is also waterproof up to 50 meters.
This model’s movement is AP’s 3120 movement with a low vibration frequency of 3Hz (21,600 times per hour).
2012 – Royal Oak Ref. 15400ST
The updated version of 15400ST and 15300ST was released in 2012. There are several differences between the two models, but the main difference is the size of the housing. The chassis of the 15400ST is 41mm, which is 2mm larger than the chassis diameter of the 15300ST. The casing is also slightly thicker, adding 0.4mm to 9.8mm.
At 41 mm, it has more appearance, and has a sporty and more modern ratio. At the same time, the movement also uses the Audemars Piguet 3120 movement. The familiar carved gold rotor can be seen on the bottom cover.
Many design changes have also been made. Removed the large AP logo at 12 o’clock and replaced it with a dual baton index and a small AP logo. The year of returning to the dual baton index satisfied the fans of the retro version, which they considered an improvement.
Since the movement has not changed, although the size is increased, the date display window is slightly closer to the center, but the extra space is filled by stubs. This is not always displayed, but when flipping the case, there is a defect that the movement is smaller than the diameter of the case, which gives people a sense of imbalance.
That is history. Now, let us look at the latest model Ref. 15500.
Royal Oak (Ref.) 15500ST
referee. 15500ST is the latest stainless steel royal oak. Since Audemars Piguet’s CODE 11.59 is a hot topic at SIHH 2019, the new 15500ST has not received the attention it deserves.
The basic Royal Oak design has no obvious deviations, but there are some major updates and changes.
The most important update of 15500 must be the movement. The 15500 is equipped with calibre 4320, which is the same as the CODE 11.59 new series of self-winding calibres.
This newly developed movement has made several improvements on its predecessor Calibre 3120. This low-speed movement can send out 21,600 beats per hour; the 4302 movement can send out 28,800 beats per hour. The power reserve also increased from 60 hours to 70 hours.
In addition to its improved specifications, the diameter of the movement is now 32mm, which can better balance the diameter of the case. Similarly, the 22k gold rotor with skeleton makes it easier to appreciate the beauty of the movement through the exhibition backplane. All parts, including bridges, are decorated with Geneva stripes, and the slopes are polished to give this sports watch the beauty of a formal watch.
One of the main design differences of Royal Oak is its dial. There is a square pattern on the dial called “Grand Tapisserie”. When you look closely at the “Grande Tapisserie” pattern, you will find that the convex square has a line pattern, while the concave part has a texture pattern, which indicates the level of detail in the design.
The dial of the current model is available in three colors: blue, gray and black.
Let us look at the difference with 15400. The minute trajectory around 15400 is carved into Tapisserie mode, and the minute trajectory on 15500 is carved into a new plane on the circumference. Similarly, the words “AUTOMATIC” at 6 o’clock have been deleted, while the “AP” and “AUDEMARS PIGUET” logos at 12 o’clock have been slightly expanded. I think that removing “AUTOMATIC” may lose balance and make the dial look lacking, but in fact it leaves a good, clean impression.
In addition, the index and pointer have been updated. Although the shape is the same as the previous model, they have been thickened, and because of the large surface area of the luminous paint, it has a sporty appearance. The index has been slightly shortened to distinguish it from 15202. In addition, if you look closely at the second hand, you will find that its weight has the same shape as the index.
Finally, I think the main update is the location of the date display. Thanks to the new movement, the date window of 15500 is located next to the minute track on the circumference of the dial. Fans of the original 1972 model will say that it has returned to the correct position.
The case diameter of the 15500 is 41mm, which is the same as the 15400. The integrated bracelet, octagonal bezel and finish are basically the same as before, but a closer look will reveal the differences between them.
Although the case diameter is the same, the thickness is slightly increased from 9.80mm to 10.4mm due to the new movement. When I actually wear each watch, the difference of 0.6 mm is not very obvious. Considering the benefits of the new movement, this can be seen as a compromise, even a positive change in convenience.
The 15500 uses a screw-down crown again, which is still waterproof to 50 meters. It still retains the familiar combination of satin and polished finishes, maintaining the beauty of the Popular replica watch.
The bracelet gives a very clear impression, but the edges are not sharp and will not hurt the feel. In addition, multiple components of satin and polished finishes create a three-dimensional and luxurious feel. In the 1970s, many watches were designed with leather straps. But from the beginning, Genta has always designed the case and bracelet together to enhance the overall feeling and finish.
A closer inspection of the watch reveals that this new model does not deviate from the original Royal Oak concept envisioned by Gérald Genta. Obviously, the tradition of the Royal Oak still exists today.
The first thing to notice when using Royal Oak is the beauty of the light reflected from the polished surface. It shines on any other watch I have never worn, and can even reflect the smallest amount of light. Therefore, when you wear a T-shirt or other clothes with exposed arms, its existence is great. Another factor contributing to its existence is the 41mm size.
Due to the limited range of motion of the integrated lugs and bracelet, this watch is not the most comfortable. Depending on the thickness of your arm, it may not be suitable for you. Thankfully, although my arm is relatively small-only about 6.3 inches-I didn’t think the watch was too big, so I got used to it immediately.
The appeal of luxury sports watches lies in their versatility and ease of use. They are sports watches, so they pair well with casual clothing, but they also look good when wearing a suit on a formal occasion. Although 15500 is slightly thicker than 15400, it still belongs to the category of thin watches, and it easily slips under the shirt sleeve.
Personally, I really like the gray dial version. As expected, blue watches, which are only available in boutiques, are very popular. But I believe that the gray dial is a multimeter and can be used with any type of clothing because the tone of the dial matches the tone of the stainless steel case.
Although the satin finish is very beautiful, the scratches on the watch are indeed obvious. I have been picking up small scratches without notice, especially on the bezel and bracelet. Interestingly: since I obtained the Royal Oak, I feel that I have become more cautious in handling other things and handling cheap watches online. I want to emphasize that the brilliance of this watch is truly beautiful, and it is a factor that holds its great satisfaction.