Any true horologist will tell you how the introduction of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak line in 1972 marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of sports watches. Gerald Genta’s now classic design was a bit a head-turner back when the horological community was enduring what’s now known as the ‘Quartz Crisis’, and this exquisite Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Openworked model (15305ST.OO.1220ST.01) is certainly no different.
Back in 2010, with the Royal Oak’s 40th anniversary looming on the horizon, Audemars Piguet decided to introduce a model that would demonstrate their continuing innovation, whilst paying homage to the classic design. To this end, they produced a concept and design that would appeal to both traditionalists and modernists alike - the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Openworked was born. However, creating a completely hand-finished skeleton dial to AP standards is a lengthy process, requiring countless man-hours and nothing was seen of the model until two years after the initial announcement.
What's behind the dial?
Like its once infamous and now famous ancestor, this Audemar Piguet Royal Oak Openworked model is a marvel of both design and artisanal workmanship. The model’s principal feature is undoubtedly the awe inspiring and eye catching ‘openworked’ or ‘skeleton’ anthracite dial. Anthracite is a graphite-like, super-resilient variant of carbon-coal that adds an amazing slate-grey lustre to an already eye-opening dial. Having an openworked dial is a real innovation for the Royal Oak series and given the hand-finishing, it’s easy to see how it spent so long in development. The dial is framed with white gold, luminescent hour markers, that perfectly compliment the white gold bolts that hold the bezel as well as the white gold Royal Oak hands. Aside from hour markers, the dial is printed with minuite markers as well as the proprietary Audemars Piguet brand name, sans-logo where the 12 o’clock marker would usually be. Other than the dial’s beauty, it also serves an important role as a window to the architecture of the watch, showcasing the beautiful 3129 calibre movement that powers the piece. With 239 parts, the 3129 movement is a stunning piece of machinary and engineering, featuring unusual bi-directional winding and an enlarged power reserve of 60 hours (the industry standard is 45). Looking through the glareproof sapphire crystal caseback, you can see the 22 carat gold rotor that keeps the watch winding. As with the dial, the rotor itself has been skeletonised, so the lucky owner can admire as much of the 3129 calibre movement as possible. Even though part of the rotor body has been removed, the designers have taken great pains to keep the classic Audemars Piguet logo, which sits next to the ceramic ball bearings that support the rotor. The use of ceramic ball bearings prolongs the longevity of the watch’s winding mechanism, meaning you’ll have a long time before it needs servicing.
The case up close
As with other Royal Oak models, the case and bracelet are exceptionally eye-catching, featuring a myriad of brushed and polished facets. Though this model also comes in rose gold, the example we have here is the 9904L Stainless Steel model, measuring a comfortable 39 mm accross the case from left to right (including the screw-locked crown) and an unbelievably thin 9.4 mm in thickness. Thanks to its relatively slim design, the Royal Oak Openworked sits really beautifully on the wrist and we can only describe it as ‘as comfortable as an old pair of slippers’. As usual with the Royal Oak series, the bezel has been beautifully finished by the artisans in the AP workshop, producing a stunning contrast of brushed top and highly polished sides. The case and the bracelet are no different, being a mixture of both brushed and polished elements that blend exquisitely in to each other to produce a watch that not only looks, but also feels sensational.
Why is it so collectable?
Now discontinued, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Openworked (Ref. #15305ST.OO.1220ST.01) is sure to become a favourite among collectors in the years to come. As well as being a completely mind-blowingly beautiful watch of uncomparable quality, as the first skeletonised Royal Oak model, it holds a special place in the annals of Audemars Piguet history, which will only serve to bolster its value in the years to come. Here at Time 4 Diamonds, we have both steel and rose gold models in-stock and available today. Don’t miss your chance to own a beautiful watch that’s part of Audemars Piguet history - call our sales team on 020 3893 2331 or email [email protected] for more information.