Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

The royal oak
Why the icon was created overnight

The design icon that Gerald Genta came up with overnight

If you worship the Royal Oak then you should know the inventor and designer Gérald Genta who would have turned 90 on the 1st of May this year. The Geneva born son of a Swiss mother and an Italian father was the most influential and successful watch designer of the last century.

Due to the quartz crisis, Georges Golay, then head of Audemars Piguet, knew that the brand had to try something new. He called Gérald Genta in the afternoon before Baselworld 1971 began and told him that he needed a design for a luxury watch in steel by the next morning.

So Genta only had one night and came to Golay the next morning with the design for the Royal Oak, which is still iconic today.

It wasn’t the porthole that inspired Genta to this unique bezel shape,
it was a vintage diving helmet.

His idea was to transfer the design of the old diving suits onto a case. The bezel is inspired by a vintage diving helmet attached to the rest of the suit with visible screws – no longer shrouded by the case. The bracelet is harmoniously integrated into the case, making it also symbolically an equal part of the watch and no longer reduced to its function alone.

»Back then in the early 70s, the Royal Oak wasn’t an instant success.«

Interestingly enough back then in 1972 the Royal Oak wasn’t an instant success. At 38 mm, the watch was then too large and too distinctive for a market that specialised in models that measured only 34 mm on average.

Today the Royal Oak is of the most iconic watches in the world and AP just unveiled several new Royal Oak models in April. One of them is the 950 platinum Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin. The 39mm “Jumbo” is presented with a full 950 platinum case and bracelet as well as a smoked green dial adorned with a sunburst pattern. The Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin is exclusively reserved for AP Houses.

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