A new definitive tome on luxury UK replica Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches is out this month in timing with the coveted watch’s 50th anniversary. Royal Oak: From Iconoclast to Icon, written by journalist and acting editor-in-chief of Wallpaper magazine, Bill Prince, and published by Assouline, is the first book on the famous AP model in a decade (the last book, mostly a pictorial, was written by Martin K. Wehrli and Heinz Heimann in 2012). And it will be a must-read/must-own for Royal Oak aficionados, 1:1 online fake watches enthusiasts and overall culture hounds alike.
While the book presents a detailed history, including everything from Gérald Genta’s early designs of the timepiece and interesting information about how its famous tapisserie dial was created, Prince also provides rich context for the historical milestones in art, fashion, architecture and technical innovation that were happening simultaneously in the year the high quality Audemars Piguet Royal Oak replica watches was created. “I think what really attracted me to the writing a book and telling the story of the Royal Oak was, I suppose, partly the frame of its history, ‘72 to the present day,” says Prince. “I’m not quite old enough to have been in the market for a Royal Oak in 1972, but I certainly grew up with all of the influences of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. So for me, the cultural framework was really important. Telling the story of how the Royal Oak has maintained its centrality in that sort of cultural firmament for 50 years was great fun.”
When asked what surprised him most during his research he eschews any mention of granular details about a movement or nuances about the perfect copy watches’ design origins and instead points to other groundbreaking designs of the era. “I discovered so much about 1972 itself,” says Prince. “Technics direct drive turntable was first released that year without which you could not have scratching because you needed the solid gears underneath the turntable rather than rubber bands with for this scratch. There were so many serendipitous facts I discovered around the timing of the watch’s launch but also generally the world that the watch came into.” He also points out that it was the same year Yves Saint Laurent put the safari jacket on the map; coincidentally, the Royal Oak’s codename during its inception was “Safari.” Top Audemars Piguet replica watches, of course, was likely not taking cues from the catwalk, but there was clearly a cultural confluence of ideas happening at the time.
The book does, however, provide plenty of juicy details the watch-obsessed crowd will be after. Prince did a deep dive into Genta’s archives thanks to the late designer’s wife, Evelyne Genta, who, in addition to serving as the ambassador for the U.K. in Monaco, is the gatekeeper of over 3,400 of her husband’s drawings in her Georgian townhouse in London. They helped him paint a picture not only of Genta’s legendary Swiss movements fake watches but also of his overall approach to design. “There’s a very strict architectural line that he always took at the same time as this artistic, almost avant-garde approach that he also allowed himself and there’s also a great technical mastery that he had,” says Prince. “You know, he trained as a jeweler. So, he understood so much about classical and ancient architecture but also the disciplines of contemporary jewelry making, which I think everyone can see is clearly expressed in the bracelet.”
For technical junkies, there is coverage of the inception of the AAA super clone Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches’ 2120 and 2121 calibers as well as original sketches of the bracelet showing the blueprint for its studs with connecting links that taper in size. Prince, who spent decades covering the watch market during his tenure as deputy editor at British GQ, already had years of knowledge on the Royal Oak under his belt but, he says, Audemars Piguet’s head of complications, Michael Friedman, and director of heritage, Sébastian Vivas, also provided a wealth of information. He cites the AP Chronicles on the brand’s website as an excellent resource for those that really want to get downright encyclopedic on the model’s history. “If the book leads [readers] to discovering the rich detail that’s on the AP website around Chronicles, then it’s the job is done, because it’s absolutely fascinating,” says Prince. “I could barely scratch the surface of the knowledge and the information is contained within those documents.”
Extra, Extra! Bill Prince Divluges More Details on the Royal Oak:
Genta’s Archives Contain Never-Before-Seen Designs
“These are, in effect single drawings, they’re not a series of individual blueprints. However, they are individual drawings from which, I’ve been told, designers could easily take measurements and create replica watches wholesale should they wish to. And the level of detailing is extraordinary on them. Each one is an artwork in its own right.” Prince, however, says he does not know what Ms. Genta has in store for them.
The Royal Oak Wasn’t Necessarily a Flop at Debut As the Myth Goes
“There’s a legacy around the original 5402 that it was unsuccessful at launch. It took time to find its market but it also took time to reach its market because this was the first series-produced watch that really ran to a significant scale for Audemars Piguet. They had been making very low volumes of fake watches for sale and suddenly they had an extant case and bracelet that were sold under the name Royal Oak. And it was a question of really ramping up production for that.”
On Whether or Not the Royal Oak Is Immortal
[In the book, Prince cites a quote from Georges-Henri Meylan, a former executive and CEO of Audemars Piguet from the late ’80s through the early 2000s, in which he calls the Royal Oak “immortal.”]
“I got the sense he was using the term meaning it’s indestructible, rather than it has perpetual life. But it comes back to this incredible sustaining power that the China Audemars Piguet Royal Oak replica watches has. How do you account for it? You can account for it in in various ways when you talk about the design and the book talks a lot about how it just empirically, and preternaturally fit into each year. It’s uncanny, it’s disruptive, it’s revolutionary.”