This year is the 40th anniversary of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch. The initial design, produced in 1972, was the first to use steel rather than silver or gold for the case and band.
AP has gone big for the celebration. And by big I mean Tom Brady big. Big like Ed Burns, Sean Avery and Swizz Beatz lined up in Royal Oaks at a packed-out, black-tie Park Avenue gala.
The 137-year-old company was also kind enough to loan me a Royal Oak Offshore for the week. You know, just for a test drive. It had a 37-mm face covered in a black hounds-tooth check, an octagon bezel and a wide black rubber strap. (Options like colored bands and embedded diamonds abound.)
People noticed the watch even when I didn’t twist it faux-casually to catch the light.
“Yeah, I noticed you were wearing a serious watch,” one senior publicist told me at lunch. “I love it,” smiled his companion, a woman who works for a major fashion label.
Another day the editor at a well-known fashion magazine told me she liked the face. She would know, too.
The Royal Oak Offshore is fun to wear, but there are a few ground rules to wearing so important a piece. Here’s a primer.
How to wear it: Casually, during the daytime. Don’t wear it after 6pm–we are not a farmer. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. But still. (It goes without saying that after midnight all bets are off.) Don’t wear it with silk, though, or a tuxedo. And never with heels at night.
Who should wear it: Anyone who can appreciate the fact that an actual machine made of sweat and steel powers the piece. And anyone who can drop $21,000 on a sports watch.
What to know before you wear it: It feels slightly heavy on the wrist, and it’s thicker than something like a vintage Rolex or what you’ll find at Jaeger Lecoultre. You may also have to reset it every so often if the power reserve gets low–the thing is mechanically powered, after all.
Keep in mind: It’s not embellished in diamonds, no, but the watch catches attention. It also costs a lot of money. Therefore: You don’t need to add much else in the way of jewelry. Leave the rings, nail-polish and bracelets (unless they’re cool and stacked) at home.
Here’s a quick tally of what I did do in one week with a watch that costs as much as a MINI Cooper:
Standard Grill lobster rolls survived without getting mayo on the strap: 3. Don’t judge. I like lobster.
IPhone photos taken with it across the steering wheel of the Porsche Panamera Turbo S: An embarrassing amount. I’m going to leave it at that.
Billionaire polo fields visited: 1, Peter Brant’s in Greenwich, Connecticut. To see the David Altmejd exhibit. I can attest that I arrived at exactly the right time.
Dance parties survived in the ACME basement: 1. The bartenders there are glorious and will high-five you if you order Scotch. They’ll also give you free shots of Mezcal “so you can taste the difference.” And they’ll like your watch.
Modern dancers timed: 16, at a performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company at Lincoln Center. My favorite of the portions danced was Promethean Fire. Those kids kept up swimmingly.
Major artists observed in action whilst wearing the piece: 2. Rock-god photographer Mick Rock and the volatile Italian sculptor Maruizio Cattelan (Cattelan does this dance move that looks like a cross between Gumby and Pinocchio. It’s fun to watch. PUN!)
Art bought during lunch at Christie’s: None. You’d think a girl wearing a watch of this caliber would spring for even a tiny Rodin or Kahlo. Something. But no. Maybe better to save up for something really big.
Of course, if you’re wearing a Royal Oak, you may not need anything else at all.
Here are the complete specs:
Diameter: 37 mm
Dial: Black with exclusive “Méga Tapisserie” motif, white mother-of-pearl counters, eight diamond hour-markers and white square hour-markers with a luminescent coating. White gold hour- and minute hands with a luminescent coating. Water-resistant to 20 metres.
Strap: Black rubber with AP folding clasp in diamond-set 18-carat white gold
Calibre: 2385, self-winding movement
Diameter: 26,20 mm
Casing diameter: 11.5 lignes (25,60 mm)
Thickness: 5.50 mm with 37 jewels and up to 40-hour power reserve
Cadence of the balance: 21,600 vibrations per hour
Finish: All parts meticulously decorated; mainplate circular-grained and sandblasted; counterpierced holes; bridges circular-grained and adorned with Côtes de Genève motif.
Functions: Hours and minutes, small seconds, chronograph, 30-minute and 12-hour counters, date