Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding 37mm

Before Audemars Piguet overhauled the 34mm Royal Oak mechanical line in 2022, the 37mm models were the designated ladies’ watch of the stable.  Or maybe they were more than that.  TBC is taking a look at the “purest” variant of the 37mm iteration – a stainless steel three hander with a date complication.

Photography by Ronald Chew

by The Balance Coq

  • September 14, 2023

It is hard not to love a Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.  After all, the 1970 original is one of the late Gérald Charles Genta’s most recognisable designs.  Traditional diving helmets were said to be the inspiration for both the octagonal case design and the exposed screw heads on the bezel (this is per the Gerald Genta Heritage site, so anyone who wants to argue on behalf of ship portholes, please take the fight up with the Genta family).  It was the first luxury sports watch to be made of steel.  In other words, a bona fide icon.

And just like the Porsche 911 design team, the Audemars Piguet design folks have the unenviable task of updating a design icon…without really updating a design icon.  All the hallmarks have thus far been retained through the design cycles – the screw heads, the octagon, the integrated bracelet, and by extension of that, the lugs.  Which brings us to the Achilles’ heel of the Royal Oak.  It wears large, thanks to those long lugs.   But collectors are a hardy lot.  Oftentimes, watch collectors are mistaken for U.S. Army Marines, not just on account of their top physical forms, but also because both camps share the same life philosophy – improvise, adapt, overcome.

As TBC has mentioned somewhere else on this Pictorial, the 37mm was the ladies’ line of the Royal Oak, before the 34mm line was completely refashioned to serve that purpose in 2022.  Those same long lugs mean that any 37mm Royal Oak would wear more like a 40mm watch, which then, in turn, means some collectors were able to improvise, adapt and overcome their predestined scrawny wrists.  Nothing is going to come between a collector and their watch, not even long lugs.

The dial is finished in a (very) lustrous silver and has white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating.  The most striking aspect of the watch has to be the signature design motif on the dial which Audemars Piguet calls “Grande Tapisserie”.  The textured treatment has a metallic waffled pattern that catches light beautifully, creating angles of lit and shadowed areas that move and change as you tilt and move the watch about.   The “Grande Tapisserie” pattern gives the dial a dynamic and three dimensional geometric feel.  The effect works better on the lighter dials.  When you turn the watch around and peer through the sapphire caseback, you will find the in-house Calibre 3120.  What invariably catches the eye first is the 22K gold rotor, engraved with the Audemars and Piguet family crests straddling the Audemar Piguet logo.

Glistening away is the impeccably constructed Royal Oak bracelet.  Just like the dial, the satin and polished finishes work in concert to play in the light.  It is not unreasonable to assume certain brands would be in a bit of a pickle if Audemars Piguet decides to repurpose Royal Oak bracelets as jewelry, such is the level of craftsmanship.  The bracelet alone is worth the price of admission.  And what is the price of admission, exactly?  The refreshed 37mm stainless steel Selfwinding Royal Oak is in the ballpark of  CHF25,000, with a new movement supplied by Vaucher.  Does that represent fair value?  More to the point, does the concept of fair value even apply at this level of horology?  Perhaps, this is a conversation best kept for future installations.

Presented here in stainless steel, the 37mm Selfwinding Royal Oak is the sporting distillation of Audemars Piguet.  It has all the hallmarks of the Royal Oak in a size that would accommodate most wrists, male and female.  You come for the brand but will probably stay for the craftsmanship.  What more can you ask for, pray tell?

Oh, allocation.

Specifications

BrandAudemars Piguet
ModelRoyal Oak Selfwinding
Reference15450ST.OO.1256ST.01
Case MaterialStainless steel
Case Diameter37mm
Case Height9.1mm
Lug-to-Lug46mm
Water Resistance 5ATM
MovementCalibre 3120
ProductionDiscontinued
WearsLarge; closer to a 40mm

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