Audemars Piguet might have a history that dates back nearly a century and a half, but 2022 is a very big year for the storied Swiss watchmaker. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, an icon both in its design and its ongoing impact on the watch industry, which is cause for serious celebration in the Vallée de Joux. To mark the occasion, Audemars Piguet has released the first new Royal Oak “Jumbo” reference in more than two decades, with four watches debuting under the 16202 moniker.
All four watches in the new Royal Oak Jumbo collection features the same slender 39mm cases, which stand just 8.1mm off the wrist, and are dimensionally identical to their predecessor, the ref. 15202. What does differentiate the quartet of watches is the metal they’re cased in, with stainless steel, yellow gold, rose gold and platinum variations available.
In true homage to the original Royal Oak from 1972, the stainless steel ref. 16202 features an almost identical blue-grey dial, complete with the instantly recognisable petite tapisserie pattern across its surface. The dials of the precious metal references all feature “smoked” finishes to them, with a smoked green dial for the platinum, smoked gold for the yellow gold, and smoked grey for the rose gold reference.
This smoked effect creates a contrasting ring around the circumference of the dial, which emphasises the true colours of the respective dials. If the green dial in platinum looks familiar, that’s because it is. Regular readers of Boss Hunting might remember a watch that was released by Audemars Piguet in March of last year, which features almost identical specs to this version, apart from the movement within.
Aside from the dials, the movement is the other significant change between the ref. 15202 and the new ref. 16202, which now contain the Audemars Piguet calibre 7121. Despite identical case dimensions between the old Royal Oak Jumbo and the new, the outgoing calibre 2121 is smaller and contains fewer components than the new calibre 7121.
The new movement boasts a quicker beat rate of 28,800 vph, a quick-set date function (incredibly, the 22-year-old Royal Oak Jumbo could take several minutes to properly set the date) and a power reserve of 55 hours (15 hours better than the previous calibre). The final interesting feature of the Royal Oak Jumbo’s new calibre 7121, is that for the remainder of 2022, it will be sold with a special 50th-anniversary rotor, differentiating it from the same watches that will be sold in the years to come.
I’ll just go out and say it: this is a great new collection from Audemars Piguet. The temptation to launch a contemporised version of the Royal Oak for its 50th anniversary would have been strong, but the Le Brassus-based team held their nerve. When a watch is as iconic as the Royal Oak, you don’t want to mess with it, and the iterative faithfulness of these new references isn’t messing with anything.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo ref. 16202 collection will undoubtedly be hard to find, but here are the respective RRP’s if you ever come across one. The version in stainless steel is CHF29,700 (~AU$45,372), the yellow gold and rose gold references are both CHF63,100 (~AU$96,396), and finally, the platinum reference is “Price on Request” (though as a guide, last year’s similar platinum reference was US$105,400 or ~AU$149,737).