A beautifully made timepiece makes the perfect present for the loved one in your life. Audemars Piguet, a Swiss brand known for its big, bold designs, is a smart and discerning choice, especially among avid watch collectors. To make the choice even easier for you, we’ve selected some of the house’s finest designs.
The horological icon
There are few watch origins more fabled than that of the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet’s flagship collection. The story goes that, one afternoon in 1970, the brand’s then managing director Georges Golay met with watch designer Gérald Genta and asked him to create a ‘steel sports watch that has never been done before… something totally new and waterproof’. As if that weren’t enough, he also wanted the design ‘by tomorrow morning’. Taking inspiration from deep-sea diving helmets, Genta sketched the watch that Golay wanted overnight, featuring the now-famous porthole-shaped case and eight exposed screws. He was given the green light the next day and designed the prototype himself that year. The final design went into production in 1972. Not only was the first Royal Oak watch massive in comparison to standards at the time, it was also the first stainless-steel watch to be marketed as a luxury product. It took three years for the industry and customers to catch up with this innovative approach, but soon it was in hot demand — and today it’s widely regarded as a cult watchmaking icon.
Available in different materials, with and without diamonds, and with different complications, the Royal Oak is a rewarding investment for men and women alike. In fact, these days its female offerings are truly show-stopping. This 37mm Royal Oak Self Winding is cast entirely in 18-carat pink gold and features 40 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel. Its silver-toned dial features the brand’s instantly recognisable ‘Grand Tapisserie’ pattern, pink-gold applied hour markers, and Royal Oak hands complete with luminescent coating (£47,500).
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self Winding – £47,500
You can read more about Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self Winding watch here.
The not-so-little sibling
Such was the success of the Royal Oak that, in the early 1990s, the brand’s then-CEO, Stephen Urquhart decided to cater for a younger generation in time for the model’s 20th anniversary. The result was the Royal Oak Offshore, designed by watchmaker Emmanuel Gueit, which launched in 1993. It was a veritable titan on the early ’90s horological landscape: a bold, oversized, stainless-steel chronograph housing a mechanical movement. At 42mm, it overshadowed many other watches that year and, in tribute to the first Royal Oak, boasted a blue dial. The iconic features of the Royal Oak are still visible in the Offshore, and has been enhanced with a more contemporary design. This all-blue Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph features a blue dial (including blue chronograph subdials and a blue inner bezel), blue ceramic push-pieces and an eye-catching blue rubber strap. It has a 42mm stainless-steel case and is water-resistant to 100m (£25,000). Or you could go for a precious metal iteration, such as this eye-catching model, which features an 18-carat pink-gold case, black ceramic push-pieces, a ruthenium-toned dial, and ivory-toned counters. It’s presented on a stylish grey alligator-leather strap (£39,700).
The leading ladies
Although initially designed for young men, the Royal Oak Offshore is for female watch collectors, too. This iteration stays true to the spirit of the original 1993 model, thanks to its blue dial with a ‘Lady Tapisserie’ pattern, but its steel case has been resized to a more modest 37mm to suit slender wrists. There’s a touch of luxury, too, as its bezel is set with 32 brilliant-cut diamonds and its applied hour markers are cast in white gold. It comes on a comfortable blue rubber strap (£27,900).
Whether you’re purchasing an Audemars Piguet model for yourself or a loved one, for a first-time watch owner or an avid horology fan, the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore are guaranteed to add lasting value to any collection this Christmas – and beyond.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore – £27,900
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Discover Audemars Piguet at Watches of Switzerland UK.