The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is considered by most to be the original luxury sport watch. Made as a tribute to steel, it cost more than most gold watches at the time of its introduction in 1972. But that watch and its origin story have been written and rewritten ad nauseam, so I’ll spare you that here. This article covers a different kind of Royal Oak, a capital L, Luxury sport watch.
This is the reference 15206PT Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin in 950 platinum. A limited-edition, only 70 examples of this watch were made, and on top of that, they only retailed in Japan through the authorized dealer Yoshida. Limited by numbers and geography, I imagine this is one of the very few examples that will make its way stateside.
The case and bracelet are made of 950 platinum, a material fitting of a watch this precious. Platinum is obviously a very sought after material, but its also the perfect choice for a precious metal Royal Oak. It’s harder, heavier, and rarer than gold without drawing the negative attention one might receive when wearing a solid gold watch. This “stealth wealth” element makes it a great way to elevate Royal Oak while keeping it’s legendary aesthetic intact.
Proportionally the “Jumbo” Extra-thin model is the modern equivalent of the original A-series Royal Oak. Because of this, it’s also typically one of the most sought after styles of the watch. Measuring at 39mm in diameter and just 8.1mm thick, this watch is as close as they come to a perfectly sized. The case and bracelet are implemented just as Gerald Genta intended but with some extra heft and luster. It’s still a Royal Oak, but in a tuxedo.
While the platinum case and bracelet do an excellent job subtly elevating the watch from its steel siblings, the dial is another story. Worlds away from the traditional petite tapisserie finish, this dial is made of a solid piece of smooth black onyx with eleven diamond hour indices—three o’clock is reserved for the date. This dial sings. Diamonds on a watch can be divisive and are often overdone, but here the size and implementation are perfect. The shimmering diamonds on the deep black onyx dial make this watch look like a piece of the night sky is right on your wrist.
Inside the watch beats the in house self-winding caliber 2121. Complete with a 21 karat gold skeletonized rotor and expert level manual finishing of the bridges with polished bevels and satin-brushed edges. A simple time and date with a 40-hour power reserve; this is not the most complex movement, but it is still an Audemars Piguet. The finishing that goes into this automatic time and date movement rivals other brands’ highest complications.
Over the years, the Royal Oak has grown from a single watch to multiple watch lines with various materials and complications added along the way. With that, though, there is something special and pure in this limited edition for Yoshida. It harnesses the spirit of the A-series Royal Oak while substantially upgrading the watch. In a vacuum, this watch would stand on its own with exceptional materials and beautiful design. Still, its lineage and rarity can’t be ignored, and these factors push it into rarified air. Among the numerous Royal Oak variants, this reference sets itself apart and sits near the top as a worthy endgame piece for any serious collector.