We sat down with one of Instagram's most public and prolific collectors, Juan Orozco (@jfdorozco), to hear the story behind his tropical dial Royal Oak 5402. Mint is an understatement.
To me, what’s special about this watch was the hunt. The process that I went through to actually get to this watch, is the part that really captivated me.
And after I got it, it was understanding and discovering that what I enjoy, as a collector, is the original rendition of iconic watches. It’s hard to explain, but when you see the first rendition of an icon, you look at it and think: aha, now that’s what’s it’s supposed to look like.
"He came up with a design that was different: imposing and aggressive, but still elegant"
I think Gerald Genta changed the watch industry with the Royal Oak. He came up with a design that was different: imposing and aggressive, but still elegant. It’s also a blessing that Audemars Piguet were the ones to make it, as few manufacturers would have the skill to execute his design correctly. Just think of the complexity of making the bracelet, the case and the dial.
Juan's Royal Oak 5402
Finding a Royal Oak 5402, the original rendition, that had all the parts that actually matched was really exciting. To me, it wasn’t important to find an A Series, just to have an A Series. It was more about finding a watch that spoke to me, you know?
When I first started searching for one, a friend of mine had a C series, one of the transitional one’s with the AP logo at six, but I wasn’t convinced about the clasp. So that didn’t work out.
Then, later on, I found a B series, and it was really nice: correct clasp, correct crown, correct engraving on the back, full case – but the font on the dial didn’t feel right. It could have been correct, but I don’t want to buy a watch where I have any little doubt, because I’m always going to be thinking about it.
The dial has an even, tropical patina
Juan admiring his watch on a sunny day in London
By this point, lots of friends knew I was looking for one, so I would just get bombarded. They’d send me watch, after watch, after watch. I felt like I’d seen them all. Then a friend posted this one on Instagram; instantly, it felt like I needed to hold it.
He was gracious enough to send it to me for a couple of days to confirm all the parts were correct, but as soon as I saw it, I thought: wow, this is it. And then I started going down my checklist: crown, check. Engraving, check. Buckle, check. Date wheel, check. Font, check.
The original crown
The unique octagonal bezel, retaining its original lines
Sharp bevels, a distinctive feature of the original Royal Oak
The dial also turned out the to be this absolutely beautiful tropical shade. I wasn’t looking for a tropical dial originally, but this one blew me away. People still debate whether a tropical dial is damaged or not, but for me it’s really more about how the watch looks.
Granted, I do go into the technicalities concerning tropical dials. If you look at most of the Royal Oak’s people consider tropical, it’s due to the coating on the high parts of the tapisserie coming off. So actually, what you’re seeing is the exposed metal under the coating of the dial.
"And then, you put it in the sun, and it just looks gold. Like straight up, gold"
Often, the hills of the tapisserie look one colour, and then the valleys look a different colour. On this one, if you look closely, you don’t see any of that: everything is an even colour, and that’s why you can look at it in any light, and it appears even.
The dial appears blue, grey, brown or gold depending on light
The Royal Oak sitting on the wrist
I’ve had so much fun with this one, spotting the different colours on the dial. The other day I was wearing a blue shirt and pants, and I looked at the watch and thought, my god, this looks blue. Unbelievable, you know?
And then, you put it in the sun, and it just looks gold. Like straight up, gold. Then, if you look at it in a dark lighting, and you’re wearing black clothing, it almost looks pitch black.
So yeah, a pretty spectacular piece – I’m lucky to own it and keep re-discovering it every day.
Thanks to Juan for sharing his story