For the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet, Antiquorum is holding auctions for some of its rarest timepieces. In addition, the brand will also launch a newly-reimagined Jumbo series.


Antiquorum, the World's Premier Auctioneers of Modern and Vintage Timepieces, established in Geneva in 1974, has been at the forefront of the success of the Royal Oak. Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak has a long history on the auction market and, in 1992, Antiquorum auctioned its first Royal Oak timepieces in Geneva at Hotel des Bergues. Today, with more than 30 years of archives, Antiquorum has recorded nearly 1,000 Royal Oak watches presented for sale, of which nearly 8 out of 10 were sold, providing us with a very interesting reference on the evolution of this model's value. 

The Royal Oak was first introduced at Baselworld in 1972 and back then was commercialized for CHF 3,650 (around CHF 10,000 (IDR 155.058.641.20) today). Back then, the timepiece was not a total success as steel sports watches were not sought after. However, not the series reaches very high demand today and is increasingly elusive.

Antiquorum was pleased to start off the year with a unique selection of timepieces for its Monaco auction at Monaco Yacht Club. The auction house sold an extremely rare fine tonneau-shaped 18k yellow gold self-winding perpetual calendar Royal Oak wristwatch with gold dial. 

“Our first 2022 auction took place on the 18th of January in Monaco. For the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet, it was unthinkable not to present a piece to celebrate this anniversary, especially in Monaco, where Gerald Genta lived for many years: the brainchild of the esteemed Gerald Genta went under the hammer and was sold for EUR 260,000,” says Romain Rea, CEO of Antiquorum. 

“Designed in 1971 by Gerald Genta and produced in 1972, the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet is one of the most iconic contemporary sports chic models in the watchmaking world. Genta’s great intelligence is to insist on the thinness of the watch case: minimizing the space in the case is a feat that watchmakers no longer know how to do. The watch becomes a bracelet, like a piece of jewelry. This is what makes it a timeless object."

Antiquorum has its open valuations days scattered around Europe, including Switzerland, United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Italy and Spain for which you can book an appointment directly online. If you're interested, Antiquorum is having its next auctions in Hong Kong (online) on March 9, 2022, and in Geneva, on May 8, 2022. 

Recent auctions

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak is one of the best success stories in contemporary design launched 50 years ago, back in 1972. Designed by Gerald Genta, the Royal Oak became an iconic wristwatch over the years for watch enthusiasts, collectors, and auctioneers. First, Audemars Piguet had approached Genta to design a sports watch which remained rare back then. By taking inspiration from vintage diving helmets and applying those visible screws to an octagonal bezel with an integrated bracelet, Genta sketched the design in one night.

Audemars Piguet then introduced the Royal Oak with the first batch of 1,000 watches called the “A series” because of the letter A engraved on their case back. Two years later, additional series were produced under ref. 5204 with the letter A, B, C and D. This model (numbered 344) appears to have been created between the A and B series in 1976 and corresponds to Gerald Genta’s 1972 design. The case back is signed Royal Oak only, with no number.

The watchmaking prowess of “skeletonization” does not leave collectors and watch enthusiasts indifferent. Revealing a part of the internal mechanism is a true horological art. Audemars Piguet, an expert in this field in the 1930s-1950s, used this skeletonization process on its Royal Oak collection, starting with a pendant version in 1981.

An extraordinary Royal Oak Platinum Skeleton wristwatch went under the hammer in October 1992, at Hotel des Bergues in Geneva. The timepiece was sold CHF 59’800 back in 1992 and is today estimated to CHF 200’000 according to Arnaud Tellier, Antiquorum expert and Director of Asia-Pacific. 

Audemars Piguet was first known for its perpetual calendar production in pocket watches, but its first-ever perpetual calendar wristwatch was manufactured in 1948. Only nine examples of its reference 5516 have been produced and very few followed due to the fastidious manufacturing processes at the time. 

Lovers of the Royal Oak will delight with the World Record set at Antiquorum Auction in Monaco last July 2021. This incredible Royal Oak is a historical timepiece as only a few examples are known, the first one to appear at auction with boxes and papers.  

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak -year 1976- Ref. 5402ST, intermediary series, stainless steel (Lot 430), is a fine and very rare, stainless steel, self-winding, tonneau-shaped, gentleman’s wristwatch, with a black lacquered dial and date. With original box, certificate, and service invoices. Estimated at EUR 80,000 – 150,000, it was sold for EUR 286,000, including buyer’s premium.

A World Record was set by Antiquorum a few months ago, during the November auction week in Geneva. Antiquorum sold, over the higher estimation, this amazing and extremely rare, self-winding, stainless steel perpetual calendar wristwatch. This memorable timepiece is the most expensive Royal Oak in steel sold on the auction market.

Audemars Piguet confirmed that this example was born with a salmon dial despite the wrong code on the original certificate. Completely overhauled, Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, 1996 (Lot 453), was ready to be worn and enjoyed with probably one of the most striking dials (along with the Yves Klein) ever made on the perpetual calendar. From is estimated price of CHF 200,000 - 300,000, it was sold for CHF 462,500, including buyer’s premium.

Back in December 2021 in Hong Kong, Antiquorum sold the most expensive Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in Platinum and 18K Pink Gold on the auction market. Caliber 2120/2800 was launched by Audemars Piguet in 1978 at the height of the quartz crisis. 

Audemars Piguet Ref. 25686, Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, 1997, “Tuscan dial” platinum and 18k pink gold (Lot 383). Very fine and extremely rare, platinum and 18k pink gold, a self-winding wristwatch with water-resistant sapphire-crystal case-back.It was sold beyond the estimated price at CHF 178,197, including the buyer’s premium.

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar (year 1986) in 18K yellow gold with day, date, month and moon phases (Lot 171). This Ref. 25554 Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar dates back to 1986 and is one of the very first perpetual calendars Royal Oaks manufactured. It was sold for EUR 260’000, including the buyer’s premium.

Audemars Piguet, “Royal Oak” No. 021, present series (Lot 343), is a fine self-winding, platinum skeleton gentleman's wristwatch with perpetual calendar and moon phases, with a platinum integrated bracelet with fitted box and certificate. It was sold for CHF 59,800, including the buyer’s premium.

The Jumbo series

Nicknamed “Jumbo” by collectors, it owes this nickname to its tonneau-shaped case measuring 39mm, very large for the time. In November 2020, during the lockdown, Antiquorum sold the most expensive Royal Oak in Yellow Gold.  Audemars Piguet Ref. 5402, Jumbo Royal Oak, B series, the 40th to be ever produced, yellow gold (Lot 405), was a fine, large, extremely rare, iconic, self-winding, 18k yellow gold wristwatch with date. It was sold for CHF 150’000, including buyer’s premium.
More than 50 Royal Oak models went under the hammer in 2012, during an exceptional auction at Grand Hotel de Kempinski in Geneva.  For collectors and auctioneers, the Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Jumbo “Serie A” n°88 is one of the oldest serial numbers to have been auctioned. A small anecdote also concerns the AP logo at 6 o’clock as only the A-series and about half of the pieces produced for the B series display it. 

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Jumbo “Series A” n°88 (Lot 402) has been produced in 1972 in steel and was sold for CHF 40,000. In excellent overall original condition still with its Gay Freres bracelet dated 1.72 and combined with the lucky number 88, it is the perfect collector’s example.

When the mythic “Jumbo” was born 50 years ago, the timepiece was first criticized for its atypical shape and its 39mm diameter and has since become one of the most mystical watches in the world. For half a century, the Royal Oak has been manufactured through many iconic designs. Today, however, the Manufacture Audemars Piguet pays tribute to the timeless icon of 1972.

Audemars Piguet has reinvented the Caliber 2121, removed from production at the end of 2021, to manufacture the Caliber 7121, a much more powerful and precise caliber. The new masterpiece, Royal Oak “Jumbo” extra-thin Ref. 16202, rewinds time, offering the same dial as the original timepiece. The pieces produced in 2022 will benefit from an engraved oscillating weight “50 years”: a future collector piece that we hope to appear under the hammer in the next few auctions at Antiquorum.

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