Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02 references the 70s with its colour scheme and styling. Don your flares and step back in time with this retro timepiece.
This detailed review of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02 includes live images and specification details.
I remember 1977 vividly, I had mumps. My illness prevented me from partaking in the celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen’s Silver Jubilee. I also remember feeling very sorry for myself at having to miss the school trip to Carnforth Station Heritage Centre. It was definitely not my year. However, Audemars Piguet has chosen to celebrate 1977.
In 1972, the very first Royal Oak, penned by Gérald Genta, was released. It was the ‘first luxury sports watch’ and, surprisingly for the time, was presented in stainless steel. Subsequently, over 45 years, AP has produced several versions of the Royal Oak, including steel, platinum, alacrite, forged carbon, titanium, tantalum and, of course, gold. Some Royal Oak watches are equipped with complications, while some eschew complexity, featuring few dial indications. In 1977, the first yellow gold 39mm Royal Oak was unveiled. It was the first Royal Oak presented in noble metal.
The allure of the Royal Oak is that its charm has not faded with the passage of time. Nevertheless, despite the timeless quality of most models, the new Royal Oak Extra-Thin in yellow gold has a decidedly retro persona owing to its barleycorn-hued gold.
The watch is offered with a ‘classic blue’ or ‘vintage-inspired champagne’ dial. Personally, I prefer the latter which exhibits a nostalgic air and coalesces wonderfully with the case. The dial is a subtle matrix of small squares or, to use AP parlance, ‘Petite Tapisserie’. The labyrinth-like motif is sublime and has always appealed to my tastes.
The Royal Oak hour and minute hands are lozenge shaped and collaborate superbly with the baton-like indexes, proclaiming the time with clear and perfect tone.
Unlike the 41mm Royal Oak, the AP logo on the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02 appears in the southern hemisphere of the dial. The logo is applied which, together with the applied indexes and Petite Tapisserie motif, confers a magnificent three dimensional quality.
At 3 o’clock a tiered aperture showcases the date.
An aspect I particularly like about this dial is the scarcity of indications. The dial subscribes to the ‘less is more’ design philosophy and, in so doing, provides an uncluttered vista I find most becoming. Indeed, this non-chronograph dial is my favourite style to date within the Royal Oak family.
In 2012, the Royal Oak family had a major makeover and several new models were unveiled. At the time I recall falling under the spell of the Royal Oak Self Winding 41mm in pink gold and Extra-Thin 39mm in steel. Both of these timepieces continue to look new and fresh, however, the 18-carat yellow gold looks like it belongs to another era, namely the 1970s. This is not a criticism as there are many people who look back to this era with a sense of fondness and will, no doubt, appreciate the period styling of this watch. To be honest, I am still undecided whether I like the yellow gold or not.
What I can say unequivocally is that the 39mm case accords a superb degree of wearer comfort. At first I thought it would look too small for my behemoth wrists, but the octagonal shape makes it appear larger than a similarly-sized round case.
The movement is only 3.05mm thick, while the case measures 8.1mm in depth. The primary reason the case is so much thicker than the movement can be attributed to the iconic porthole-style bezel which sits on high and must account for several millimetres of the thickness. Nevertheless, do not misconstrue, this is still an ‘extra-thin’ watch, hugging the wrist comfortably while neatly residing beneath a shirt cuff.
The integrated bracelet has a fluidity to the way it forms around the wrist. Moreover, the bracelet feels robust and the clasp closes with a positive click.
The Vallée de Joux is synonymous with producing complicated watches and ultra-thin movements. The Calibre 2121, first introduced approximately 50 years ago, is as slim as a jockey in a sauna despite containing 247 parts. The movement has a diameter of 28.40mm and thickness of 3.05mm and looks wonderful when viewed via the exhibition caseback.
The movement features a 21-carat gold oscillating mass. The rotor winds in both directions. The balance oscillates at 19,800 VpH (2.5Hz) and features masselottes on its rim, mitigating any turbulence that would adversely impact on precision.
Côtes de Genève motif adorns the bridges. Sunray-brush features on the transmission wheel and the ratchet wheel. Both the jewel sinks and screw sinks are polished and the screws feature chamfered rims and polished slots. The mainplate is adorned with spectacular circular graining (perlage). Everything is distilled to perfection and free of compromise. Indeed, when looking at this movement, one is reminded why AP is considered one of the grandees of haute horlogerie.
The dial is legible to read, the case proffers excellent levels of comfort and the movement is beautifully executed.
Ultimately, it is a case of whether you like the retro shade of the 18-carat yellow gold. Some would-be buyers will adore its kitsch tones and feel an urge to wear the watch with a pair of polyester flares, choosing to relive 1977. Personally, I am undecided.
However, one thing is certain, the prospect of owing a Royal Oak Extra-Thin in steel or pink gold would cause my heart to skip a beat and lead to words of undying love. And that is the problem for me, I have already given my heart to the siblings of this brand new model. Moreover, 2012 was a better year for me than 1977.
- Model: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02
- Reference: 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02
- Case: 18-carat yellow gold; dimensions 39mm; height 8.10mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; date.
- Movement: Calibre 2121, self-winding movement; frequency 19,800 vph (2.75Hz); 36 jewels; power reserve 40 hours; 247 movement parts.
- Strap: 18-carat yellow gold bracelet with AP folding clasp