This Royal Oak reference 15000TR is distinguished by the unusual material it is partially constructed from – tantalum. In terms of case and bracelet material, Audemars Piguet has become quite experimental in recent years, as evidenced by some of their pieces, which use ceramic or frosted gold. Their use of tantalum earlier on in the history of the Royal Oak thus signals an early tendency towards experimentation, especially in combination with different metals, such as with this combined tantalum and rose gold example.
An unusual metal, rarely ever seen in watchmaking, dark grey tantalum is highly resistant to both corrosion and wear. Notably, the material is expensive and more traditionally used in the medical and aerospace fields, and is also notoriously hard to work with. According to Raphaël Balestra, Audemars Piguet's Museum Archivist, the machines that were used to shape tantalum needed replacing much more often, making the watches which integrated this unusual material all the more expensive to produce. In this example, the combination of rose gold and a matching rose-coloured dial softens the otherwise fairly masculine design.
Thanks to the substantial case and integrated bracelet of this Royal Oak, it wears larger on the wrist than its 33mm case would otherwise suggest. Despite its smaller size, it still houses a self-winding movement – the calibre 2140 – as opposed to a quartz movement, which you might expect in other pieces with a similar size. Moreover, 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.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Audemars Piguet 15000TR will be subject to 20% VAT.