At Baselworld 1972, Audemars Piguet introduced the Royal Oak, an integrated bracelet luxury steel watch featuring a bold and radical design. The Royal Oak would later become Audemars Piguet’s crowning jewel, eventually spurning out a full watch collection. Here are 6 little known interesting facts about this iconic watch and the collection.
1. The Royal Oak’s design was an ingenious eureka
Gérald Genta, one of the most famous watch designers, was tasked on the eve of the 1971 Baselworld fair by Audemars Piguet to create an “unprecedented steel watch” design for all occasions, which was needed on the following morning. He was only given 24 hours on the task. Nevertheless, Genta stood up to the challenge and with an ingenious eureka, he created what was to become the Royal Oak. It would be the masterpiece of his career.
2. The Octagonal Bezel was inspired by the Diver’s Helmet
Apparently, Genta’s eureka moment was inspired by the traditional diver’s helmet. He chanced upon a diver emerging from Lake Geneva and was inspired by the screws that held on to the watertight faceplate. Eight hexagonal gold screws and a visible water resistance gasket secured the Royal Oak’s octagonal bezel.
3. The First Prototypes were made in white gold
As the Royal Oak design was very complex and intricate, it was costly and difficult to machine the high-grade steel to justify the costs for the initial prototyping. The solution? Fabricate them in white gold, which seems counterintuitive, as white gold is itself expensive and highly prized. Apparently it is even more costly to mill the high-grade steel compared to the total cost of milling the white gold. This just goes to show how highly complex and intricate the parts of the Royal Oak was.
4. It is named after a famous battleship
Genta felt that the name of the watch had to be nautical-related as it was inspired by the diver’s brass helmet. The Royal Oak was chosen as it came from the name of a series of eight vessels belonging to Britain’s Royal Navy. The Royal Navy christened the vessels with the name of the tree that infamously shielded King Charles II of England from the Roundheads following the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
5. The bezel screws on Royal Oaks are made out of Gold
The bezel screws on Royal Oaks may look like typical steel, but make no mistake, the current collection of Royal Oaks with the exception of the Royal Oak Offshore, have their bezel screws made up of gold and white gold.
6. The Hour Glass Limited has a special Royal Oak, The Royal Oak Extra-Thin
In a limited edition of 50 pieces, the Royal Oak Extra-Thin in 18-carat yellow gold was created in dedication to Singapore retailer – The Hour Glass. Specially commissioned for The Hour Glass, the Royal Oak Exra-Thin The Hour Glass features a full 18-carat yellow gold case and bracelet. With its signature “petite tapisserie” dial in an exquisite shade of green, the unique timepiece also features a personalized oscillating weight engraved with the inscription of “The Hour Glass” and “One of Fifty”. Find out more about the Royal Oak Extra Thin here.
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