A mid-size Royal Oak
This example, the ref. 14790BA, was first produced in the early 1990s, as an alternative to the ‘Jumbo’ Royal Oak ref. 5402, with a reduced diameter of 36mm (over 39mm). As with all Audemars Piguet Royal Oak examples, the reference 14790 features an integrated case and bracelet, with angular, beveled and polished edges, famously penned by Gerald Genta.
In the same way Patek Philippe introduced a mid-size version of its emblematic Nautilus with the ref. 3800, Audemars Piguet did the same with the Royal Oak. In many ways, the reference 14790 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. The polished screws, bezel and case edges fantastically contrast with the brushed surface of the case and bracelet.
An all-gold design
An all-gold Royal Oak is a bit of a paradox. The Royal Oak was originally conceived as a luxury steel watch, yet its design and proportions render wonderfully when executed in yellow gold. This 14790BA adopts the same key traits as the most recognisable version of the 5402BA, with its yellow gold case, anthracite grey dial and golden date disc. Usually more susceptible to wear than its stainless steel equivalent, this 14790BA is extremely well-preserved, retaining its original lines, crisp hallmarks and a thick case.
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. Thanks to the slim profile of the case and bracelet, the ref. 14790 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 14790BA wears much larger on the wrist than its dimensions would suggest.
This ref. 14790 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. Newer versions of the Royal Oak have since adopted AP’s bolder “Tapisserie Evolutive” dial pattern, less faithful to the original design. Evidence suggests that the dial was manufactured by Stern Creations, the famed manufacturer which also produced dials for the Royal Oak 5402, the Nautilus 3700, the 'Stella' Day-Date and many other iconic models.
A detail often bemoaned by collectors for seeming like an afterthought, this 14790BA also features a gold-coloured date disc, wonderfully complementing the metal of the case (yet again reminiscent of the original 5402BA). With the yellow gold variant of the 5402 having been produced in far fewer numbers than its steel equivalent, there is reason to believe that this was carried across to the 14790, with few yellow gold examples having come to market to date.
The Royal Oak 14790BA is powered by the ultra-thin AP caliber 2225, 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 Royal Oak 14790BA is accompanied by its original wooden box, outer box and Certificate of Origin and Guarantee (left blank).
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