Royal Oak | 14700ST | steel
The Royal Oak 14700ST is an elusive mid-size version of the Royal Oak design, believed to have been produced for a brief one year period, in 1991. A predecessor to the popular ref. 14790, it represented Audemars Piguet experimenting with different elements of the mid-size design. With its classic "Audemars Piguet" signature on the dial and Gay Frères signed bracelet, it captures much of the vintage charm of the earliest Royal Oak pieces. Rare and wearable, it is believed that around 500 examples were produced in stainless steel.
A "transitional" Royal Oak
Shortly after the introduction of the original “Jumbo” 5402, Audemars Piguet experimented with a few mid-size versions of the design. These were meant to bring the Royal Oak to a wider audience, who at the time favoured more modestly sized wristwatches. The reference 14790, produced from around 1992 to 2005, is considered the quintessential mid-size Royal Oak, produced in a wide range of configurations.
However, it was actually preceded by the reference 14700, which is believed to have been produced for a brief one year period, in 1991. Often described as a “transitional" reference, the 14700 represented Audemars Piguet experimenting with different elements of the mid-size design, notably case proportions and dial layout. With few examples having come to market, it is estimated that around 500 of these were produced in stainless steel, with production figures remaining in the three-digit range across all metals.
Measuring 36mm in diameter, the ref. 14700 still retains the vintage-style, smaller Audemars Piguet signature on the dial Gay Frères signed clasp, features of the earliest Royal Oak watches, notably the original ref. 5402. Though the case is almost identical in diameter to its successor, the 14700 features a thinner bezel and larger dial, such that the watch wears slightly larger on the wrist than the later 14790.
A classic dial
As with all Audemars Piguet Royal Oak examples, the reference 14700 features an integrated case and bracelet, with angular, bevelled and polished edges, famously penned by Gerald Genta. In many ways, the reference 14700 is a scaled-down version of the original reference 5402, retaining many of the same features, such as the “Petite Tapisserie” dial, and overall proportions. Interestingly, the dial on the ref. 14700 measures 1mm less than the dial on the original Royal Oak, the ref. 5402. As a result, the watch wears larger than its proportions would otherwise suggest, giving it an important visual presence on the wrist.
This ref. 14700 retains the more understated “Petite Tapisserie” pattern on the dial, forming the square and lozenge motif, as seen in earlier executions of the Royal Oak. It also features the more traditional "Audemars Piguet" font, where all the letters are the same size, rather than the later font introduced in the mid-'90s, which is distinctively more modern in appearance. This is reminiscent of the earliest Royal Oak watches and imbues the piece with a certain vintage charm.
Evidence suggests that the dial was manufactured by Stern Créations, the storied manufacturer which also produced dials for the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Rolex “Stella” models, among others. It has an anthracite grey colour, with hints of blue in certain light.
At 36mm in diameter, and only 7.5mm thick, this Royal Oak case is a beautiful twist of perspectives and size. It comes with its original bracelet and deployant clasp, featuring the hallmark of famed bracelet maker Gay Frères, who produced the first Oyster bracelets for Rolex, as well as integrated bracelets for the original Nautilus and Royal Oak. The caseback indicates the watch’s case number (N.4XX). This Royal Oak 14700 comes fitted with an "AP"-signed service crown from Audemars Piguet, though it is also accompanied by a period correct unsigned crown.
Thanks to the slim profile of the case and bracelet, the ref. 14700 hugs the wrist, in a way that is both supremely comfortable, yet distinctively elegant and characterful. Collectors have noticed that on account of the unique case shape of the Royal Oak, the 14700 wears much larger on the wrist than its dimensions would suggest.
The Royal Oak 14700ST is powered by the ultra-thin AP caliber 2125, derived from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s JLC 889 calibre movement. Formed of 280 components, the 40-jewel movement is rhodium-plated, with fausses côtes embellishment.
This Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 14700ST is accompanied by its signed Certificate of Origin and Warranty, which confirms that the watch was originally sold in Italy. It is also accompanied by its Royal Oak instruction manual and original unsigned crown.
|Model:||Royal Oak Ref. 14700ST|
|Movement:||mechanical automatic AP Caliber 2125|
|Functions:||date, hours, minutes|
|Features:||small "Audemars Piguet" signature, Gay Frères clasp
|Case:||36 mm stainless steel|
|Bracelet:||stainless steel AP-stamped bracelet and clasp|
|Year:||c. 1991 (sold in 1994)
|Box & papers:||Certificate of Origin and Warranty, instruction manual|
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