From the moment of its release on 15 April 1972, the Royal Oak has turned the heads of watch lovers and propelled the watchmaking industry forward into new eras of design. With its intricate, hand-finished steel body, octagonal bezel, Petite Tapisserie dial motif and ultra-thin selfwinding movement with date indication, the now-iconic 5402 model elegantly captured the spirit of the times while paying homage to Audemars Piguet’s values of craftsmanship, technological advancement and unconventional aesthetics. But it wouldn’t stop there.
Over the 50 years that followed, the Royal Oak would reinvent itself time and again. New sizes, materials, complications and mechanical innovations would be revealed that both encapsulated the current moment and pushed it forward, creating new trends and expanding the possibilities of timepiece design. The 1980s were marked by classic complications and creative craftsmanship, from the Model 5554, featuring the thinnest selfwinding perpetual calendar movement with central rotor in the world at the time, to the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked version, fitted with the collection’s first sapphire caseback to display the sophisticated mechanism within. By the 1990s, the 39mm “Jumbo” Royal Oak and dramatic 42mm Royal Oak Offshore had taken centre stage, appealing to a younger, bolder cohort of watch wearers.
The dawn of the new millennium saw even more cutting-edge design and trailblazing micro-mechanics, introducing in 2004 the Tradition d’Excellence N°4 and in 2016 the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked, as well as the Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin in 2018 – the world’s thinnest automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch of its time. In 2002, on the 30th anniversary of the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet released a one-off model inspired by Concept Cars, to be produced in a limited run of just 150 pieces. With its futuristic dial, shock-absorbing tourbillon bridge and advanced functions like a dynamograph, the Royal Oak Concept ushered in a new era of Haute Horologie for the 21st century.
Now, in celebration of the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary, Audemars Piguet releases a groundbreaking new generation of watches in this distinctive collection. The 39mm Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin models have received a new selfwinding, extra-thin movement, Calibre 7121, that updates the line and infuses it with better performance and improved reliability. In another milestone, the brand introduces its first ever flying tourbillon housed in an extra-thin “Jumbo” case, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin, which required a complete redesign of the tourbillon cage and resulted in a tourbillon movement measuring just 3.4mm in height. Riffing on the Royal Oak’s founding aesthetics, it features a stainless steel case with a Petite Tapisserie dial in the original blue, inset with the flying tourbillon cage for a peek at the elaborate mechanism at work inside.
A true testament to the melding of iconic visual codes and continued innovation that has defined the Royal Oak – and kept it constantly relevant – for half a century.
Discover the Audemars Piguet collection at Swiss Concept located at 90 Pitt St, Sydney.