Some watchmakers create huge fanfare when they release new watches, no matter how important or incremental. Audemars Piguet has become somewhat notorious over the last few years for quietly dropping releases, big and small, onto its website with no warning and no hoopla. Waking up today, I found that a totally new Royal Oak model had appeared in the collection: The first 34mm mechanical Royal Oak.
Previously, the small size Royal Oak came in at 33mm and featured a quartz movement. That model, in a handful of variations, continues to be a part of the AP collection, but it’s being joined by a slightly larger version packing a self-winding movement. There are four variations on the Audemars Piguet 34mm Royal Oak Selfwinding at launch: a steel version with a silver dial; a two-tone pink-gold and steel version with a silver dial; a steel version with a blue dial and diamond bezel; and a pink-gold version with a silver dial and diamond bezel. All of them utilize the AP caliber 5800, which is a 4 Hz automatic movement with center seconds and a date display at three o’clock, just like on the other RO models.
With these additions, you can now get self-winding Audemars Piguet 34mm Royal Oak Selfwinding in 34mm, 37mm, 39mm (as the “Jumbo”), and 41mm. That’s quite the selection, and there are various special color options and limited editions across that range as well. It will be interesting to see how this new 34mm collection develops and whether or not it eventually supplants the 33mm quartz models altogether. For sake of comparison, the 34mm mechanical Royal Oak in steel is priced at $18,300, while the comparable 33mm quartz Royal Oak is $13,400.
To me, the thing that first jumped out is the four colorway choices that AP decided on to launch this model. It’s certainly a strange mix, but after thinking about it for a bit, it totally makes sense. Not offering the stainless steel model with a blue dial (without diamonds) prevents more steel-and-blue Royal Oaks from hitting the market, while also offering an incentive for folks to spring for the diamonds if they want that classic combo. Personally, I’m really digging the all-pink-gold model with diamonds – it isn’t totally flooded, so it’s a slightly more understated way to rock a diamond AP.
What I’m most curious about, though, is how these wear on the wrist. AP isn’t explicitly marketing these as ladies’ watches, and I think that a guy like me with smaller wrists might actually be able to wear these. Audemars Piguet 34mm Royal Oak Selfwinding models always wear a bit larger than the dimensions would suggest, in part because they are so flat and have such an angular design, and I’m interested to see if this could be a new avenue to explore. Sure, it’s not going to look like a 15202, so don’t start having fantasies of having found your solution to that lifetime-long waitlist, but it could be fun nonetheless.
On the flip side of that, though, these watches will most likely be purchased predominately for or by women, and it’s cool to see AP invest in putting mechanical movements in these pieces. More and more women are getting into the watch world, and hopefully the days of brands throwing quartz movements in diamond-covered watches and calling it a day are behind us.