Audemars Piguet is one of the most illustrious and influential watchmakers on the planet. Considered part of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of luxury watchmaking – alongside Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin – Audemars Piguet’s influence runs deep. But there’s one watch that defines AP more than any other: the legendary Royal Oak.
Designed by the legendary Gerald Genta, the Royal Oak isn’t just AP’s most iconic watch, but arguably the most watch on the planet. It was the world’s first luxury sports watch: bold, purposeful yet incredibly refined, it redefined haute horlogerie and remains one of the most sought-after timepieces on the planet.
2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak, so we were all expecting AP to celebrate this milestone in style… But few could have anticipated just how hard they were going to celebrate. Not only has AP unveiled a whopping 42 new Royal Oak models, but they’ve also introduced what’s easily one of the biggest updates to the most important Royal Oak model of all time.
These days, AP makes literally hundreds of different Royal Oaks – and that’s not even counting watches from their Royal Oak Offshore or Royal Oak Concept lines. But the most popular is arguably the ‘Jumbo’. Thin, second-hand-less and faithful to the original Royal Oak from 1972, the Jumbo – in all its iterations – is to many the quintessential Royal Oak. It’s a legend.
AP shocked watch fans last year when they announced they were discontinuing the ref. 15202, the latest iteration of the Jumbo. Naturally, this immediately fueled speculation that AP would introduce a new Jumbo reference in order to fill the void – and now, in 2022, AP has done just that.
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The new ref. 16202 is the first new Jumbo reference in 22 years and while it might look deceptively similar to the outgoing 15202, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Firstly, the dial design has changed, with the ‘AP’ logo brought down from 12 to 6 o’clock, in line with the original Jumbo from 1972. The case and bracelet, too, have been subtly tweaked to make the watch more ergonomic and tapered.
It’s what’s under the hood that’s really got watch fans frothing: it’s got a new, in-house movement. The caliber 7121 is more complicated, more accurate, more shock-resistant and longer-lasting than the Jaeger-LeCoultre-developed caliber 2121 that it replaces – yet the 16202 remains just as thin as the 15202 at 8.1mm. It also boasts a quick-set date mechanism: a real quality-of-life feature collectors will appreciate.
There’s four new 16202 references – two gold, one platinum, one steel – but it’s the latter that’s particularly notable, as it features a unique ‘Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50’ dial that pays homage to the blue dials found on 1972 Jumbos.
All four 16202 references, as well as all the new references introduced this year, feature a unique 50th anniversary automatic rotor design, which AP will discontinue next year – making these new releases particularly special.
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If you haven’t already twigged by now, this is all pretty big news. The main takeaway is this: AP have unveiled the most important update to their most important watch in the decades, which makes the watch better in almost every way. It’s a big move for the brand and one that’s sure to further fuel interest in a watch that’s already insanely popular.
Find out more about the ref. 16202 Royal Oak – as well as the bumper crop of new Royal Oak models – at Audemars Piguet’s online boutique here.
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