My favorite watch of all time is probably the classic, no-nonsense Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Everything Gérald Genta touched in the 1970s seemingly turned to gold in a Midas-like fashion, but nothing comes close to the original in my mind. The Patek Philippe Nautilus might fetch a considerably higher price and have an suitably long waiting list, but to me, nothing beats a standard, dark dial, “clean” Royal Oak.
Fast-forward to 1993. AP released the Offshore variant of the Royal Oak and the trend of wearing oversized watches was born (I’m permitting myself some revisionism here). This is the start of my heartache. I despise the Offshore. They’re too big, they’re too cluttered, they’re unelegant. And by extension, they’re overpriced. To me, they represent everything that’s wrong with high-end watchmaking, being the essential was you can imagine David Beckham and his cohorts wearing. They go well with an Affliction t-shirt and a pair of True Religions. Just loud & noisy, much like my beef with Hublot (the Big Bang and Offshore have essentially grown to become the same anyway).
My love for the original Royal Oak is kind of like being a fan of a band that subsequently sold out, where you consistently must point out that you only like the records that the Beastie Boys put out when they still were a punk band.
There are thankfully exceptions that prove the rule. So far, I’ve managed to find two models that I not only could see myself wearing but that I would love to own. First off is the Safari.
Look me in the eyes and tell me that’s not a work of art. There’s no diamonds, there’s no steel/PVD two-tone (I can tolerate the pushers), there’s no rubber detailing, there’s no contrasting registers. The off-white color scheme goes really well with the thick, lustrous leather strap. It’s almost like a piece from Cuervos y Sobrinos on steroids, but in a good way. There’s a tasty piece right here, if you got €12,000 to spare.
The other gem I’ve found is a bit of a rarity. Although to be fair, AP has not exactly been afraid to release limited editions of their watches, so don’t take that at face value. The Juan Pablo Montoya (named after the famous Colombian race car driver) was made in just a 100 pieces is simply beautiful. The subdued dial with the stick indexes spells a winner, along with check-stitched strap. I could’ve done with the carbon fiber detailing, but you can’t have everything. They’re withholding the price on this one, but you can check out the listing for more info.