Behind The HYPE: The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Is The Crowning Jewel of Watch Collections

Audemars Piguet watches have become iconic in hip-hop history and pop culture for many years. Rappers especially love the Swiss brand’s luxurious timepieces and won’t hesitate to shout out their admiration for them across tracks, take this unmissable Rick Ross lyric for example: “I think I’m Big Meech, look at my timepiece/It’s an Audemar, hundred racks at least,” Da Boss exclaimed in his “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” track from 2010.

Of all the designs by the watchmaker, however, the Royal Oak is considered the crowning jewel among most covetable watch collections. The intricate-looking watch has been spotted on plenty of celebrities including Steph Curry, BTS’s Jay Hope, Post Malone and Jay-Z to name a few. When it comes to specs, the Royal Oak is made entirely with high-grade stainless steel and boasts an octagonal bezel with hexagonal screws. Its unmissable feature is the “Tapisserie” pattern that features protruding squares and grooves within the face of the dial. Of course, you can’t forget about the integrated stainless steel bracelet that eliminates the need for watch lugs and the trapezoid-shaped links that taper towards the case. 

The original Royal Oak model was the Ref. 5402ST which was designed by the influential watch designer Gérald Genta in 1971 and debuted at Baselworld the following year. It gets its name from the HMS Royal Oak battleships of the Royal Navy, and the unique octagonal bezel that was inspired by these ships’ portholes (although Genta expressed that it was inspired by a diver’s helmet). It was the unparalleled durability and heft of the model that set a new standard for luxury sports watches. And although it took some time before the Royal Oak was accepted by the market, with critics arguing against the “jumbo” dial of the timepiece, it went on to influence many different types of watches.

The first rollout of watches with the fairly new 5402 descriptor is known as the A-Series and is highly sought after by collectors. The watch features the AP symbol above six o’clock rather than below twelve o’clock. Numerous design changes have been made to the Royal Oak over the years such as an ultra-thin perpetual calendar, a chronograph, tourbillons and even the Equation of Time. When Audemars Piguet celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak, the beloved Offshore made its debut and continues to attracted enthusiasts the world over.

Learn more about the history of the Audemar Piguet Royal Oak’s legacy in the video above and then discover how Raf Simons’ Riot Jacket became a streetwear holy grail.
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