Created by legendary watch designer, Gerald Genta, in the 1970s, few watches are as instantly recognizable as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. From its octagonal bezel with exposed screws to its integrated bracelet, a Royal Oak announces its presence from a mile away. Here we take a look at a modern version of the AP Royal Oak—a fantastic everyday luxury sports watch.
The Look of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400ST
The AP Royal Oak collection ref. 15400ST made its debut in 2012 as the most contemporary version of the company’s signature timepiece. It’s a watch that successfully bridges the aesthetics of what made the Royal Oak so popular together with modern appeal.
Off the bat, the Royal Oak ref. 15400ST sports a 41mm size case rather than the 39mm diameter of the 15300ST it replaced. Because as most of us know, the luxury watch audience has been gravitating towards larger timepieces for a while now.
The stainless steel case is of course home to the iconic eight-sided bezel dotted with eight exposure screws that the watchmaking legend Genta confirmed was inspired by a vintage diving helmet. The bezel sits on top of the just-as-famous “Grande Tapisserie” dial. While this particular model has a black dial, there are also white and blue options.
The textured dial sets the background to the straightforward functions—three center hands and a date window at 3 o’clock. AP aficionados will quickly notice the presence of the white gold applied double batons at the top of the dial for 12 o’clock. Although this index style did not exist on the preceding 15300ST, it was present on the inaugural Genta Royal Oak in 1972.
Along with the bezel and dial, another characteristic design trait of the Royal Oak is its bracelet. In typical fashion, the steel bracelet on this Royal Oak 15400ST is integrated into the case. Plus, there’s the pair of vertical chains that run through the horizontal links that is so distinct. Manufacturing the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak bracelet is a notoriously complex process. In fact, much of it is by hand. But, it’s undeniable that the finished result is worth it.
The Mechanics of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400ST
Flip the Royal Oak 15400ST around and you’ll catch a glimpse of the movement within via the sapphire caseback. This particular time and date Royal Oak watch is powered by the in-house Caliber 3120. The self-winding movement operates at 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz) and even without two barrels, offers a generous 60 hours of power reserve.
Visually, the 22k gold rotor engraved with the AP logo and the two founding families’ (Audemars and Piguet) coat-of-arms is stunning.
It’s worth reiterating that this is an in-house movement, entirely conceived and built at the Audemars Piguet Manufacture. This is not one based on another caliber and then modified. Caliber 3120 was first sketched out in 1998 and the official production began in 2003.
Considering the variety of gold, diamond, and more complicated versions of the RO available, the ref. 15400ST is as minimalist as the Royal Oak can get. And in our opinion, one of the best options out there!