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Rare Bird: The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin for The Hour Glass

Limited edition watches are often met with mixed feelings. Produce too many, or fail to distinguish the watch from its regular production siblings, and you’re going to have a lackluster watch. Think it through, focus on the details, and do it in a small batch—chef’s kiss. This exemplifies the Royal Oak Extra-Thin The Hour Glass limited edition. 

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To appreciate this watch properly, you need to understand the legacies of both the Royal Oak and The Hour Glass. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is a true icon in the watch world, and doesn’t need much of an introduction—I’ll summarize. In the early ’70s, watch designer Gerald Genta was given a challenging task. Audemars Piguet gave him one night to design a watch that would put AP back on the map, and help save the brand from the looming quartz crisis. The watch he designed was the now-famous Royal Oak. Billed as a “tribute to steel”, the watch was vastly different than anything seen before. Its unique design and price tag (multiples of its gold contemporaries at the time) shocked the watch world. It would go on to help salvage AP’s business, and truly pioneer the modern luxury sports watch category. 

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This watch combines that legacy with that of The Hour Glass limited editions. The Singapore retailer has a rich history of unique watches made especially for their clientele. Cartier, Nomos, Ulysse Nardin, Panerai, and Uwerk to name a few, have all produced very limited watches for The Hour Glass, typically in runs of 50 pieces or less. Audemars Piguet has a special partnership with the brand, and has made four limited edition watches for them over the last decade: The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Lava, The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin, The Royal Oak Concept 26223 Tourbillon Chronograph, and The AP Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph. Two of those models—The Extra-Thin and Selfwinding Chronograph—were the first of their kind in their respective metals (yellow gold and platinum). 

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The watch we have here is the purest of that bunch, and a tribute to both brands’ rich histories. Officially named the “Royal Oak Extra-Thin The Hour Glass,” this watch utilizes the modern Extra-Thin Jumbo case and its proportions mirror the original Royal Oak. Measuring at 39mm in diameter and 8.1mm in thickness—the original was 1mm thinner—it’s the closest thing you can get size-wise to wearing the original A series. This example, when released in 2015, was the first and only Royal Oak Extra-Thin Jumbo made in yellow gold. It was also the first time in almost 40 years that AP produced this combination of case proportions, material, and placed their logo in its original spot at six o’clock on the dial. The yellow gold combined with the rich green dial color combination is a tribute to The Hour Glass. This theme has carried through the next two limited editions from Audemars Piguet since then. It’s also a combo that is unique to this limited edition for the Royal Oak Extra-Flat Jumbo. 

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While the dial and material instantly set the watch apart, the back of the watch indicates how special it truly is. Through the sapphire caseback you can see the beautifully finished movement with its custom rotor, inscribed “One of Fifty” under The Hour Glass logo. The “Limited Edition” between the bolts in the caseback is the only other indication that this watch isn’t your average gold Royal Oak. The thoughtful cues on the back are perfect. A watch that has this kind of presence doesn’t need “I’m Special” written on its dial.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is a known quantity at this point. When Justin Bieber and Millie Bobby Brown are wearing them, you know it’s not an uncommon choice. That said, this limited edition for The Hour Glass sets itself apart among the standard Royal Oaks by a respectable margin.  With obvious respect to the original design, the unique color combination, as well as its place in both Audemars and The Hour Glass history, this is a connoisseur pick. You’re likely to see other Royal Oaks, but with only fifty made it’s doubtful you’ll run into this one. With an MSRP of $56,800 and a reflective solid gold case, this is a clear monetary “flex” as they say, but it happens to be an intellectual flex too.