Tough as Nails
One of the primary reasons Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak has been able to maintain its popularity over the last 45 years is because of its pioneering look, which comprises an octagonal bezel, an integrated bracelet and some superlative hand finishing. While the first two points are easy to identify, the last one isn’t widely appreciated but when this watch came out in 1972 it effectively overturned prevailing watch codes by offering the extravagant hand finishing (such as beveling, lapping, polishing, and brushing) of a gold watch, but on a steel sports one. Over the ensuing years the brand has expanded the Royal Oak line-up with an ever wider range of complications and materials and this year sees the introduction of black ceramic for the very first time. Only available – for now – on the model’s highly respected Perpetual Calendar (which uses the calibre 5134, a movement based on the extra-thin calibre 2120/2121 that dates back to the original Royal Oak of 1972), it’s actually the first watch to ever use ceramic from end to end (meaning the case, bezel and every link of the bracelet) and this was no simple feat. Why? Because, even though this 85,000 USD watch has the same 41mm diameter as the standard model, the finishing of the case and bracelet takes significantly more time than its 60,900 USD steel or 95,700 USD rose gold equivalent. In fact, the brand says it takes five times more manhours. The good news however is that their pain is your gain, for this version is virtually unscratchable, resistant to high temperature, age, and even thermal shocks!