The Royal Oak… A watch that wants no introduction anymore, a watch that’s so iconic that its reputation goes means past the confines of watch aficionados. Nonetheless, when you have a look at Audemars Piguet’s catalogue, you’ll see that the gathering is massive (to say the least) and that it contains dozens of variations. However immediately, we’ll give attention to the 2 most essential fashions, the cornerstones of the gathering, the automated watches. This consists of the brand new 41mm Selfwinding Royal Oak 15500… However we will’t overlook the icon, the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Further-Skinny 15202. How do they examine? Comply with the information beneath.
The Royal Oak – the creation of a brand new class
1972 might be Audemars Piguet‘s most essential 12 months in its current historical past. A vital turning level. For a number of a long time, the model specialised in crafting a number of the most delicate and treasured watches of Switzerland – particularly perpetual calendars and repeaters. Nonetheless, because the quartz disaster gained momentum, Audemars Piguet took the choice to evolve, to vary technique, to counteract what would later be certified because the worst disaster of the watch trade. The reply: a metal luxurious sports activities watch designed by Gerald Genta, named the Royal Oak, and virtually as costly (if no more) than a basic gold watch.
The 1972 Royal Oak was a game-changer that created a wholly new market section.
The watch was provocative, not solely due to its value however principally due to its unprecedented design. The essential however novel concept of Genta was to use some ideas of jewelry into watchmaking. Till then, watches had been mainly designed as a sum of components: a case, a strap, a motion and a dial that, all collectively, would create a timepiece. Genta got here up with an object to be seen as a single, constant design, the place case, bracelet and dial had been half of a complete. This could later be named the luxurious sports activities watch class, with its definition created after the Royal Oak’s design.
The watch, often called reference 5402ST, was a mixture of basic AP components – ultra-thin motion, guilloché dial, high-end ornament and superior high quality of the ending – with in any other case unfamiliar specs – use of metal, integration of a bracelet, first rate water-resistance, time-and-date show and clear nautical inspiration. And if the 1972 design was provocative, it gave delivery to an array of opponents to turn into a real watchmaking class in its personal proper… and the preferred of all of them, certainly. Nonetheless, the Royal Oak 5402ST was typically copied however hardly ever equalled. It was produced – beneath collection A, B, C and D, all with slight evolutions on the dial/bracelet/motion – till the late 1970s.
The Royal Oak “Jumbo” Further-Skinny 15202
After the basic classic “Jumbo” reference 5402ST, Audemars Piguet celebrated the 20th anniversary of this mannequin with a restricted “Jubilee” version, the reference 14802, produced in 1,000 items solely – together with gold or platinum fashions and a salmon-dial model. Quick ahead once more to 2012 and the 40th anniversary of the mannequin, when Audemars Piguet introduced the updated version of its classic Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin, a watch often called the 15202ST – certainly one of the most sought-after contemporary watches and one that’s nonetheless in manufacturing immediately.
The concept behind the Jumbo 15202ST is simple: it’s the direct descendant of the unique 1972, sharing roughly the identical proportions – 39mm diameter and eight.1mm in peak (barely greater than the 5402) – the identical base motion, but improved and now not produced by JLC however internally by Audemars, the identical time-and-date show with out seconds and roughly the identical “petite tapisserie” dial – despite the fact that in our pictures of a 5402 vs a 15202, you’ll be able to see a distinction in color and execution. Nonetheless, the 15202 is the closest to the 1972 mannequin you will get immediately.
As such, this Royal Oak “Jumbo” Further-Skinny 15202ST is thought to be the benchmark for some other Royal Oak mannequin – and for any luxurious sports activities watch that’s launched.
A brand new section, the Selfwinding watches – 15300 & 15400
As of 2005, Audemars Piguet determined it was time to introduce one other watch within the assortment, the 2000s model of the Royal Oak, a extra up to date, extra masculine, extra rugged watch and a model extra in keeping with market expectations. This new sub-collection, the Selfwinding watches, was launched concurrently with AP’s new in-house computerized motion, the Calibre 3120. The watch to deal with it was the reference 15300… Mainly, the style of the unique Royal Oak, with a 39mm case, see-through caseback to see the fashionable computerized motion with seconds and date, a extra sturdy bracelet, a barely thicker case, and a cheaper price – turning into the entry-level candidate of the Royal Oak assortment. Whereas the 15202 already existed again then, the brand new 15300 grew to become the “normal” watch within the assortment, the one with greater manufacturing and gross sales numbers. An essential product for Audemars Piguet.
In 2012, Audemars Piguet up to date the Royal Selfwinding with a bigger 41mm case, which first differentiated it from the Jumbo, after which additionally ended up in a watch barely extra balanced than the 15300 – the diameter/peak ratio was, for my part, higher. This new reference 15400 nonetheless featured the in-house calibre 3120 however got here with a bigger case and updates throughout. These included a brand new dial accomplished internally on turning machines, new fonts and a brand positioned beneath the marker at 12 o’clock.
This reference 15400 was produced till early 2019 and has now been changed by a new, drastically updated Royal Oak Selfwinding 41mm, the reference 15500. The latter options a number of evolutions, most of them ensuing from the brand new and bigger motion – calibre 4302, launched first within the CODE 11.59 collection. Being pretty bigger than the earlier calibre 3120, the result’s a bigger dial opening, a special place of the date, but additionally design updates on the dial and the case.
The New Royal Oak 15500 In comparison with the “Jumbo” 15202
So right here we at the moment are, with that very same query over once more… What if you’d like an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak computerized, with out further problems – besides a date – and the basic look of the gathering (in fact, we’re ignoring the problem of availability within the equation right here, as that’s one other debate)? Effectively, you’ve gotten two choices. One is the basic, the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Further-Skinny 15202ST (which solely exists with a blue dial now, not less than for the metal mannequin). The second choice is the model new, extra trendy and barely extra sturdy Royal Oak Selfwinding 41mm 15500ST. How do they examine? Learn beneath.
Case and bracelet – Similar look, completely different proportions
Let’s begin with a very powerful matter since few watches put the case and the bracelet on such a excessive stage because the Royal Oak. The essential idea of this watch was to be a uniform piece to be worn on the wrist that tells the time. As such, evaluating first instances and bracelets makes a variety of sense.
What’s nearer to a Royal Oak than one other Royal Oak…? Effectively, it’s not that easy.
The principle distinction between these two watches comes from proportions. On one aspect, we have now the so-called Further-Skinny mannequin, with its comparatively restrained 39mm diameter and its 8.1mm peak. By all means, the Jumbo isn’t a small watch and wears bigger than its diameter would recommend. Nonetheless, by trendy requirements and resulting from its modern profile, it’s a comparatively compact watch.
The Royal Oak Selfwinding 15500 is, by way of total design, very near the unique idea. The form of the case is equivalent, so is the octagonal bezel with hexagonal screws and the built-in bracelet with its chain-like design. The distinction is, nonetheless, to be observed on the scale, as this 15500 is just not solely bigger at 41mm in diameter but additionally barely thicker at 10.4mm. The distinction in peak is distributed all around the watch, with some additional thickness on the bezel, the center case and the caseback. Nonetheless, 10mm is just not thick per se. On the wrist, as a result of bigger diameter, the ratio is one way or the other revered and feels balanced.
Nonetheless, each watches must be in contrast and the 15500 seems like a basic Royal Oak on testosterone. All of the components, from the case to the crown, the bezel, the bracelet and the buckle, have been elevated in measurement and peak. Whereas this leads to a special feeling on the wrist – heavier and extra sturdy – the proportions are saved and the design of the Royal Oak is revered. No adjustments relating to water-resistance, as each watches are rated at 50 metres – greater than sufficient contemplating the pure habitat of a Royal Oak.
When it comes to execution and ending, there are merely no noticeable variations. Each watches are extraordinarily exact of their execution, with shiny polished bevels, extremely pronounced brushed surfaces and the identical mixture of those two textures all around the watches. If a distinction exists, it might actually require to be noticed beneath a loupe however isn’t seen to the bare eye.
Dial – “Petite tapisserie” vs. “grande tapisserie”
Along with the distinction in peak, the dials are definitely what set these watches aside visually. At first look, each watches might seem like equivalent. A educated eye will, nonetheless, instantly spot the distinction in execution between these two distinct “tapisserie” sample.
The Jumbo Further-Skinny 15202ST, because the direct descendant of the unique 1972 mannequin, stays pretty shut by way of dial sample, with the so-called “petite tapisserie” (French for small tapestry) guilloché textured plate. Executed by turning machines (a machine-controlled guilloché, not the Breguet sort of guilloché accomplished by hand), the “petite tapisserie” is the best sample accessible at AP, with a succession of tiny raised squares. No must say, a comparability between a 1970s watch and a contemporary mannequin will inform you numerous on how manufacturing has advanced… The brand new dials are neat, exactly executed and intensely detailed. The outdated ones, as pleasing as they’re, have a a lot softer texture. Tolerances are clearly not the identical these days.
The Royal Oak Jumbo 15202ST was once accessible in white, anthracite/black and darkish blue. The latter being probably the most profitable, and manufacturing volumes being low for this mannequin, Audemars Piguet has determined to solely provide this model now – along with treasured or extra unique supplies. The 15202ST sticks to the basic time-and-date show with out seconds hand, to a printed brand at 12 o’clock (not in a cartouche however immediately on the sq. sample) and to the utilized AP brand at 6 o’clock, similar to the 5402ST A- and B-series. Palms and utilized indexes are white gold and have the basic Royal Oak design, perceive batons with rounded edges. All are full of luminous materials.
Shifting to the brand new Royal Oak Selfwinding 15500, you’ll see that it’s fairly a special watch. Cleaner, extra trendy, sharper, extra on the sporty aspect than the 15202ST. What was true for the case and bracelet can also be seen on the dial. To begin with, the 15500 encompasses a completely different sample, named “grande tapisserie”, with bigger squares. Whereas barely simpler to fabricate, the execution stays pretty spectacular and intensely exact – in actual fact, a lot neater than what was discovered on its predecessor, the 15400. As for the sample itself, measurement aside, it’s AP requirements all the best way. Nonetheless, there are some main evolutions in regards to the dial of this new Selfwinding mannequin, most of them implied by the brand new motion.
To begin with, the brand new motion is 6mm bigger than the older 3120 and the date window has moved to the periphery of the dial. Second, there’s now a easy minute observe on the periphery of the dial. Lastly, Audemars Piguet has determined to wash the watch as a lot as attainable and eliminated the “computerized” point out. Whereas I do perceive this level, the consequence is definitely a dial that feels a bit empty, for the reason that AP brand and Audemars Piguet identify are each situated at 12 o’clock. In any case, the “computerized” point out wasn’t dangerous. Observe right here that the Audemars Piguet identify is printed in a easy cartouche.
Lastly, a better inspection will reveal some design variations on the arms and indexes. As with the 15300 and 15400, the white gold arms/indexes of the Selfwinding mannequin are bigger, bolder and faceted. And naturally, the 15500 encompasses a seconds hand, which animates the dial. Observe that the 15500ST – the metal mannequin – is obtainable in Three completely different editions: the current black mannequin, the classic Royal Oak blue and eventually, a slate gray model.
In conclusion right here, whereas the brand new Royal Oak Selfwinding 15500 reveals a powerful stage of execution, we will’t deny that the Jumbo model is just superior. Extra refined, extra elegant…
On the wrist
Whereas the outdated 5402ST is one way or the other a fragile and brittle watch, the sort of watch that you just don’t need to use as each day beater, the fashionable 15202ST, despite the fact that it has virtually the identical dimensions, is a contemporary watch. Tight, stable, barely heavier too, you’ll be able to really use it every day with out even serious about it. Now, as I already stated, the Royal Oak Jumbo would possibly solely be 39mm in diameter, however it isn’t a small watch resulting from its formed case. Nonetheless, with its built-in lugs and bracelet, it’s snug, effectively balanced and could be worn even by males with smaller wrists – or by girls too, when you just like the oversize look…
With the brand new 15500, the sensation is of getting the identical watch with additional materials throughout. Every little thing has grown barely, whether or not it’s the diameter, the peak, the thickness of the bracelet or the lug-to-lug dimension. Visually, the optimistic level is that the steadiness of the design has been saved – I believe the choice to vary from 39mm to 41mm with the 15400 was clever since these additional 2 millimetres lead to a greater diameter/peak ratio. On a typical 18cm wrist, the 15500 is a masculine look ahead to certain however it doesn’t really feel outsized both. And for the reason that angle of the lugs is extra pronounced than on the 15202, the case feels relatively compact. The actual distinction is by way of weight, this 15500 being heavier – and much more with a gold case.
Actions – Calibre 2121 and Calibre 4302
The distinction in actions between the 15202ST and the 15500ST is liable for a lot of the disparities between these two watches. On one aspect, we have now the Jumbo Further-Skinny, with its pretty outdated calibre 2121 (the unique design is over 50 years outdated), which isn’t far-off from the unique motion discovered within the 1972 watches. Nonetheless, because of a number of enhancements and an in-house manufacturing course of, it’s nonetheless seen as among the best ultra-thin computerized actions in the marketplace. Measuring solely 3.05mm in peak, it options an oscillating weight with an annular ring working on 4 jewels, a suspended barrel and a reasonably uncommon frequency of two.75Hz (19,800vph). The motion is properly embellished, with polished bevels, satin-brushed edges, perlage on the principle plate and a 21ok gold rotor with high-end ornament.
The 15500 options Audemars Piguet’s newly launched self-winding calibre 4302, a motion that may slowly substitute the older 3120 in most watches with out problems. This barely thicker motion is massive (32mm in diameter), thus tailored to modernly sized watches, and reveals a number of mechanical enhancements over the calibre 3120. The facility reserve is now 70 hours (vs. 60 hours) and the frequency has been elevated to 4Hz (vs. 3Hz). It encompasses a traversal steadiness bridge supporting a free-sprung steadiness wheel.
As for the ornament, the 15500 additionally marks a step ahead in comparison with earlier iterations, the calibre 4302 reveals some hand-finished components, together with good polished bevels and a 22ok gold rotors with a number of hand-executed sharp angles. Plus, the motion now feels appropriately sized…
Definitely, between these two actions, some dramatic variations exist. As an ultra-thin motion, the calibre 2121 is barely extra advanced to assemble. Additionally, since this motion is produced in a lot smaller numbers, it additionally requires extra human interventions. On the opposite aspect, the purpose of the Calibre 4302 is completely different. It’s a trendy motion, meant to be exact, sturdy and produced in bigger portions. It’s the spine of AP’s manufacture. Nonetheless, it stays fairly spectacular in its specs and ornament.
As soon as once more, the distinction in actions displays the distinction in technique and placement between these two watches.
One matter we haven’t thought of but is value. The Royal Oak “Jumbo” Further-Skinny (reference 15202ST.OO.1240ST.01) is priced at CHF 24,800. The Royal Oak Selfwinding 41mm (reference 15500ST.OO.1220ST.02) retails for CHF 19,300. In all equity, the distinction in value is comparatively straightforward to know, figuring out that the dial of the 15202ST is extra delicate, that its motion is barely extra demanding by way of manufacturing and, primarily, that manufacturing numbers of the 15202 are a lot, a lot smaller. Additionally, let’s as soon as once more take away the problem of availability from the equation.
So what can we conclude concerning the new 15500 in comparison with the basic 15202? Effectively, briefly, these are two completely different watches focusing on completely different teams. As a product, the 15500 is spectacular and pays tribute to the standard you count on from an Audemars Piguet. Case, dial, motion, bracelet… Every little thing is completely executed, adjusted, completed. It’s a high-end sports activities watch with a contemporary and highly effective motion, little question about it.
I believe the Selfwinding 15500 and the Jumbo 15202 are merely not meant for a similar viewers. For somebody with comparatively modest data and curiosity in watchmaking, the 15500 will do a wonderful job. Not solely does it have all the weather you count on from a Royal Oak, however it additionally solutions the calls for of contemporary clients who need to put on their watches extensively, with a extra masculine measurement.
Then again, the 15202ST ought to stay a connoisseur’s watch, a watch meant for seasoned collectors who know and care about historical past and faithfulness. I consider that the 15202ST is a watch that needs to be earned… A type of well-kept treasure, a privilege that’s onerous to acquire, which makes it much more fascinating.
My private choice goes, no doubt, to the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Further-Skinny 15202ST – and I suppose it will likely be the identical for many of our readers, for the easy cause that they know what it actually represents. Now, don’t get me incorrect, the brand new Royal Oak Selfwinding 15500 is a really critical bundle. Nonetheless, most watch clients usually are not watch-nerds and Audemars Piguet has the proper product with the 15500 for them.
Extra particulars at www.audemarspiguet.com.