A Perpetual Calendar Royal Oak
It’s been almost 50 years since the creation of the original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and this now classic piece, is more popular than ever. First unveiled by Audemars Piguet in 1972 and designed by Gerald Genta, who incidentally designed the Patek Philippe Nautilus amongst others, the Royal Oak has become a cultural icon due to its distinctive features and its role as a pioneer for high-end luxury sports watches.
The first Royal Oak to feature a perpetual calendar complication was released in 1983, as the reference 5554 (later designated the ref. 25554). At the time, the combination of the sporty, Royal Oak case and complicated perpetual calendar movement was an unusual, forward-thinking approach by the brand.
A canvas for experimentation
Since its introduction, Audemars Piguet has used the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar as a canvas to experiment with different metal combinations and dial designs. From the tantalum two-tone examples to openwork dials, the collection offers a rich variety of configurations, where the manufacture has pushed the boundaries of conventional design.
This example, with its striking blue dial, speaks to that approach. This seldom seen, vibrant blue tone was nicknamed the “Yves Klein” by collectors, due to its resemblance to the deep blue hue first mixed by the French artist, Yves Klein. Evidence suggests the dial was manufactured by Stern Creations, the famed manufacturer of dials, which also made dials for the original Royal Oak ref. 5402.
Seen across a small handful of their models from the period - from the mid-size to the chronograph versions of the Royal Oak - this perpetual calendar stands out as the most visually and mechanically intricate execution of the "Yves Klein" colour. To some, these dials speak to Audemars Piguet's more adventurous design choices in the latter part of the 20th century, reminiscent of similar experimentation carried out by Rolex in the past, notably with its Stella dial Day Dates.
The layout of the dial includes all the traditional indications of a perpetual calendar: day, date, astronomical moon (with graduation for moon age) and month. It features original stick hands, a feature rarely found in Royal Oak watches. The sub-dials are slightly recessed, giving the dial greater depth and texture. It features the "Audemars Piguet" signature in the more modern lettering, adopted by the brand towards the end of the millennium.
It retains the more understated “Petite Tapisserie” pattern, 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. The electric blue “Yves Klein” colour is complemented by crisp white indications used throughout the dial.
The stainless case and bracelet are excellently finished, with angular, beveled and polished edges - striking the perfect balance between utilitarian function and elegant design. The polished screws, bezel and case edges fantastically-contrast with the brushed surface of the case and bracelet. At 39mm in diameter, and only 9.3mm thick, this Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel case sits comfortably on the wrist. On the reverse, the outer-case back correctly displays the unique serial number (E-33XXX), along with its case number (2XX).
This Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel is powered by the AP caliber 2120/2800, derived from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s legendary ultra-thin JLC 920 calibre movement. The caliber 2120 was an initial project of Jaeger LeCoultre in 1967, funded and contributed by Audemars Piguet, and famous for its adoption by Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
The ultra-thin automatic 2120/2800 calibre features 38 working jewels, Gyromax balance and four ruby wheels to support the full-diameter rotor, which runs on a beryllium rail for stability. The AP calibre 2120 remains the thinnest full-rotor self-winding movement in the world, considered by many as one of the most technically refined wrist-watch movements ever made.
This Royal Oak 25820ST is accompanied by an Extract from the Archives, which confirms the watch’s case, movement and serial number, as well as register date as September 2001.