Vintage Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 1972 Stainless Steel

However, the real game-changer came in the early 1970s. In addition to the watch that would change AP’s fortunes forever, we were fortunate enough to see one of the most interesting (and almost unbelievable) stories in the watch industry.
GĂ©rald Genta, then a young up-and-coming designer, was in a state of euphoria after successfully signing with OMEGA to breathe life into its Constellation collection. The night before the opening of Baselworld 1971, he received a phone call from Gorey. He was given a hurried (and extensive) assignment to design”an unprecedented watch in steel”.
Rumor has it that Genta worked through the night to create the Royal Oak’s now-iconic octagonal bezel, inspired by the rivets used on diving helmets. The integrated bracelet and overall concept wowed the Associated Press, which had been looking for something truly disruptive. With the help of a man whose name will live on for generations, the brand found it. The first AP Royal Oak was unveiled the following year at Baselworld in 1972, and the rest, as they say, is history.
When you consider entering the Audemars Piguet collection, it’s hard not to start with the Royal Oak as your starting hall of fame. Thankfully, Audemars Piguet has gone to great lengths to diversify its offerings to cater to many different tastes. Pure stainless steel time and date models (cases without diamonds or precious metal accents) are a solid choice, and these pieces tend to have a long waiting list and a great ability to retain their value over time.
Therefore, it makes sense to look for these versatile pieces on the pre-owned market. There are many tempting models to choose from, but be warned; the prices are a bit daunting. However, Audemars Piguet is a brand with a good reputation to back up these numbers. There are many different options in the catalog to satisfy first-time buyers and seasoned collectors alike. Let’s take a look at some of the standout models from the most popular collections in the current catalog.
The first replica Audemars Piguet model from 1972 (reference number 5402) retailed for CHF 3,650, which was considered a huge figure for a steel watch at the time. Based on the inflation rate of the Swiss franc, in 2021, this price would be equivalent to approximately 9,650 Swiss francs. With this in mind, perhaps the modern price (especially given the machining and mechanical advances) is more palatable. This model, reference 15202ST.OO.1240ST.01 is one of the closest models to the original Royal Oak in the current collection.
It is 39 mm wide and only 8.9 mm thick. The rich blue dial is adorned with a “petite grille” pattern that evokes the spirit of the Ref. 5402, but with a twist since the small squares that make up the dial are recessed rather than raised. A color-matched date makes things subtle and marks this as a product of its time.
The Offshore Chronograph was designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak collection. It was finally released in 1993 and its designer, Emmanuel Gueit, chose to reference the original Genta model in many ways but opted for a larger and more modern twist. At 42 mm wide, the first offshore model was 3 mm wider than the first Royal Oak.
This Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 26480TI.OO.A027CA.01 has a classic 42 mm diameter, but is slightly slimmer than some of its peers and is a satisfying 12.9 mm thick. It is the most minimalist AP Offshore replica Rolex watch you will find in the catalog and is the perfect sports watch to pair with casual wear.