|Year of production (circa)||
Steel & gold
Service papers 2022
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 6700SA
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak holds a key position within the history of the wrist watch. It showed a way out of the quartz crisis, offering high end Swiss watchmakers a template for future success. Terms such as ‘iconic’ are overused in our industry, but this is a watch that is truly deserving of the label.
This example is executed in a 26mm case in a combination of steel and 18k yellow gold. It is home to a taupe dial with the typical petit tapisserie motif. Behind the dial we find a quartz caliber, but thanks to the lack of a seconds hand and any dial signing, this is invisible from the outside.
This beautiful Audemars Piguet Royal Oak lady quartz is now available at Amsterdam Watch Company.
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The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak represents one of the most pivotal moments in the history of wristwatches. It is the watch that quite literally saved AP and much of the Swiss watchmaking industry with it. To wear a Royal Oak is to wear a fabled piece of watchmaking history on the wrist.
The story starts in 1969. While the Americans are putting people on the moon, the Japanese prepare to drop a bomb (figuratively, of course!) on Swiss watchmaking. December ’69, Seiko launch the Astron, a battery-powered wristwatch that gets unparalleled accuracy from a vibrating crystal. The quartz watch is born! Overnight, watches have become infinitely cheaper, more accurate, and more durable. The Swiss watchmaking industry plummets into (what has later become known as) the quartz crisis: a failure to cope with the influx of cheap, battery-powered watches from Japan.
With sales crashing in the early seventies, an answer was needed. Audemars Piguet contracted designer Gerald Genta to come up with something revolutionary: a luxury steel sports watch. Genta was briefed at 4PM, the day before the 1971 Basel fair. He would need to deliver a game-changing design by the next morning. Genta took on the challenge and drew a shape that was as alien to the conservative watch world as the concept of a luxury steel watch itself. He would later call it his masterpiece, even though his other designs (a.o. the Universal Geneve Polerouter and Patek Philippe Nautilus) aren’t too shabby either.
Genta took inspiration from a divers helmet. Its octagonal bezel with exposed screws being its most distinguishing feature. The petit-tapisserie pattern dial and integrated bracelet with distinctive connecting links complete an instantly recognizable design. The resulting watch was launched in 1972.
At introduction, the AP Royal Oak was priced at 3300 Swiss francs. That is ten times more than a Rolex Submariner! We might consider the trusty Sub to be a luxury sports watch now, but this Audemars was in a different league altogether! There were solid gold Pateks that cost less at the time.
The Royal Oak became a massive success. Patek Philippe later followed its example with the Nautilus in 1976 and Vacheron Constantin with the Ref. 222 in 1977. Many Royal Oak variants followed. Different sizes, complications, colors and materials. The Royal Oak became one of the most iconic watch designs ever, highly sought after by collectors and virtually unobtainable for the lay person. Even for the lay person with money, as AP would cap its output and restrict sales of some variants to only the loyalest of its customers.
Today, the Royal Oak, both vintage and modern, is one of the single-most desirable watches out there. So if you are in the position to get your hands on this one, our advice is to make your deliberations quickly!
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