When Audemars Piguet exited the watch fair in 2019, there was no indication of how the brand planned to present its new products. However, they seem to be handling this year’s challenges methodically, with their latest collections being launched every few weeks and the watches arriving in boutiques soon after, which is perhaps a smarter approach; customers are not distracted by other simultaneous presentations and they are able to get their hands on the watches within a reasonable timeframe. one such product to be launched in 2020 is the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak self-winding, which Featuring a new size variant of the Royal Oak collection. 34 mm is the smallest size equipped with a self-winding movement to date, slightly larger than the 33 mm line, but the latter features a quartz movement.
Given that Audemars Piguet is addressing a very specific niche with this new mechanical watch (currently the smallest in the collection), its caliber 5800 actually comes from Vaucher, originally in the form of the caliber 3002. A smart move on Audemars Piguet’s part, as it offers a well-proven movement for the 34mm Royal Oak (Vaucher is a specialist in supplying several high-end brands such as Hermès and Richard Mille), properly adapted to the slim proportions of the automatic movement that fit the 3.7mm movement, while providing a useful 50-hour power reserve and 28,800vph running speed. As the AP 5800 movement, it bears the brand’s own decoration, which can be seen through the watch’s sapphire display. This particular model is pictured with a diamond-set bezel for those looking for extra flair, in addition to the preferred steel and blue dial sports watch set. 40 brilliant-cut diamonds, five between each screw, for a total weight of approximately 0.71 carats.
The 34 mm dial does not bear the “automatic” markings like the 37 mm. Interestingly, the blue dial presents a slightly different blue color from that of the other Royal Oaks; historically, the extensive shade of blue used in the octagonal icon must have evoked a different character for each model.
Long before this frenzy of stainless steel, blue dials and sports watch packaging began to dominate the market, the Royal Oak collection boasted some very vibrant colors that really showcased the appeal of the retractable Tapisserie pattern. For example, the famous 36mm medium Royal Oak reference 14790, produced from 1992 to 2006, used three different dials throughout its production run and was produced in a variety of dial colors, including special orders for important clients. One of them is a concentrated, intense ultramarine dial, nicknamed “Yves Klein Blue” among collectors because of its resemblance to the French artist’s favorite pigment. This vibrant dial is rumored to be a limited edition of 50 pieces, available only through a Dutch retailer.
For a modern reference, there is the 15202IP, the “Jumbo” Royal Oak is praised by many. Its 39 mm proportions, ultra-thin movement, titanium case and strap make it a very attractive package for the Royal Oak ultimatum. The dial is also handsome. It has a deep precious blue dial with a dark radial gradient that creates a visually captivating abyss, complemented by a polished titanium bezel. There is also a Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, number 26574PT, which was launched last year and features a fresh ice-blue dial with a dark blue chapter ring and subsidiary registers.
Looking back at this new 34mm model, the Grande Tapisserie dial does sit on the dark side of the spectrum, in contrast to the broad shade of blue that appears on the vintage and modern Royal Oak dials, whose color is officially referred to as blue-gray. While color is certainly a subjective preference, the diamond bezel certainly presents an elegant and stylish option for female audiences and collectors.
The blue-gray 34mm Royal Oak is equally striking, as the other three variants in this size all feature silver dials and come in three different metal configurations: stainless steel, stainless steel and rose gold two-tone, and rose gold with diamond bezel. Previously available in case sizes ranging from 37mm to 44mm, the latest 34mm case of the Royal Oak mechanical watch is certainly a welcome option for those who have been eyeing its iconic look while wanting more wearing options for their slim wrists.