How does one follow up a 50th anniversary year jam-packed with limited-edition releases with special nods to the past? For Audemars Piguet, it seems the answer is to just keep on going and doing your thing. The brand has just announced the release of a limited Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin that swaps the petite tapisserie dial for something entirely new to the brand. Smartly offered in blue, the new 16202 model offers the same exquisite case and historic elements as the releases from last year, but with a dial that’s sure to garner some excitement.
Let’s cut right to it. The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin features a brand-new grained blue dial, apparently taking its inspiration from a special dial offered in 1992 in a platinum Royal Oak 14802. Protected by a flat sapphire crystal, the dial offers a very fine-grained texture, resembling asphalt in the close-up photos provided by the brand. The blue hue is obtained with PVD, which is then covered in a translucent coating to highlight the texturing. Pleasingly, the brand has matched the 3 o’clock date window, keeping everything on the dial white and blue. One of the best things about the Extra-Thin is how it employs the same applied indices and handset—here in white gold and with luminescent fill—as did early Royal Oaks, with the slim, rounded batons offering a simpler and less dramatic style than those of the 15500.
The white gold case is the same exceptional Royal Oak design that started it all. The porthole bezel is brushed with a polished bezel, and the iconic eight screws are aligned perfectly. Note that this is the only current white gold case that isn’t otherwise adorned or part of a complicated Royal Oak. The case is finished to match, with the well-defined brushing that flows seamlessly into the integrated bracelet, all with polished bevels. My one gripe with the Royal Oaks has always been the smaller crown. I understand it’s necessitated by the low profile, but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain, as it seems the same in this release. In any case, the watch maintains the collection’s 50m water resistance. The bracelet, of course, is closed with a folding clasp. The Extra-Thin models come in a 39mm case that measures a scant 8.1mm-thick. The original RO from 1972 was the same diameter but 7mm thick—I’m willing to forgive the added 1.1mm in exchange for being able to see a stunning modern movement through a sapphire caseback.
The movement is one of the newest in AP’s stable, the automatic 7121, which debuted last year in the 50th anniversary 16202s (and also received special rotors for the occasion). Hand-finished to the caliber one would expect from the Le Brassus firm, it features Côtes de Genève, circular graining, and traits tirés beveling throughout, with contrasting 18K pink gold bridges and rotor decorated to an equally impressive standard. The oscillating weight has ball bearings that utilize two in-house reversers for bidirectional winding, the date wheel features a quick-set function, and the balance wheel has inertia blocks to help with shock-proofing. Functionally, the movement operates at 28,800 vph and achieves a power reserve of 55 hours.
Buying an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin these days is as much about historicity and quality as it is about having something that’s incredibly hard to obtain—about status and displaying one’s wealth and ability to get things others can’t. A limited-edition Royal Oak in a precious metal with a non-tapisserie blue dial plays right into that game, offering another thing to fawn over for collectors, enthusiasts, and the deep-pocketed individual who happens to walk into an AP boutique at the right time. This is just another dial, but admittedly, AP does “just another dial” at a different level than most brands. And while it may fall short of the stunning new blue dimpled dial RO tourbillon and, at a glance, may be accused of trying to trick people into an aventurine vibe, everyone knows a limited-edition blue luxury watch will sell like hotcakes. Pricing for the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin 16202