The Royal Oak fake is one of the few watches that truly deserves the word Icon. Hell, it essentially created the stainless steel luxury sports watch category that now dominates the field of watch lovers. However, because of this, Royal Oaks are everywhere. From GQ’s page to all the other posts on your Instagram feed, it’s one of the “it” watches of the current era, look, I see, it’s a classic for a reason, but why not change it up a bit. I Suggest, if you’re going to pay a premium for an iconic watch, why not choose this iconic rare and interesting version. The watch we have here is one such watch. This is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin Italian Limited Edition, number 15128ST.
When the original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak replica was released in 1972, it was completely original. The angular, technical-looking stainless steel watch is a sculpture you can wear. Its price was comparable to that of most precious metal watches of the era, and while it was initially a bit misunderstood, the timepiece designed by Gerard Genta eventually cemented itself as a watch legend. It’s now one of the most sought-after watch models on the planet, commanding a huge premium on the used market. However, the most popular version of the Royal Oak is the simple time and date standard production model. Our watch here is more special than that. This is reference 15128ST. This is a very rare stainless steel Royal Oak, released in the late 1990s
plan the details
The case shape and size of this watch should be very familiar to Royal Oak lovers. The unique one-piece bracelet and octagonal case contrast between brushed and polished surfaces, and because it’s a “Jumbo” ultra-thin, its proportions are very similar to the first Royal Oak, which was 39mm in diameter x 8mm thick of. It’s a classic and elegant design that goes well with everything from formal black tie outfits to swimwear.
What makes this watch different, however, is the dial – or should I say dial. This Italian special edition features a light olive green dial with a strong military touch and a blue dial reminiscent of Dodge Blue. These colors are all very attractive, but they are also uncommon shades on dials in my opinion. If the watch were produced today, I think both colors would be a shade or two darker, making the watch appear more serious and stoic. But for now, the current shades are more instrumental and casual, with green calling for wearing in the wild and blue calling for continued water sports, just not deep as this watch is only water resistant to 50m.
You’ll also notice that the layout of the dial is quite different from the standard Royal Oak. It’s a bit of a cross between a military-style dial best Royal Oak and a standard production model, but with a tiny track around the border. Between the two, I definitely prefer blue, but there’s an option to switch it to green — albeit not instantly — which is a great bonus feature you’ll almost never see.
Some other interesting details are the “AP”-shaped clasp on the strap and the display caseback. This is one of the early Royal Oaks with a display caseback, and while the finish is still at a premium, it’s more subtle than I’ve seen on more modern Royal Oaks in the past. To me, this is a fascinating detail. The simple oscillating weight with the “Anniversaire Royal Oak Italie”, a clean and non-flashy finish, epitomizes the brand’s thinking and finish style at the time, and is one of the most attractive aspects of this watch. Details such as the finish, the “AP” clasp and the unique dial design set this watch apart from the standard Royal Oak aesthetic that has lasted for 50 years. The watch is still very much like a Royal Oak, but it has a completely different personality than the standard production model,
This special edition watch houses a very special movement, Caliber 2121. This in-house movement is an ultra-thin automatic movement measuring just 3.05mm thick. When launched in 1967, it was the thinnest full-rotor movement ever made. It is also the same caliber used in the original Royal Oak and many of its subsequent versions. It’s a simple but reliable movement that gives the Royal Oak the proportions of a slim dress watch, while also being durable enough to be considered a sports watch.
If Gerald Genta’s designs speak to you, you might like Patek Philippe Nautilus. This 5711 was discontinued in the past year, and while it’s not even as rare as this Italian Royal Oak, it’s a legend in the sports watch world and certainly a future classic. It’s a very popular watch, and you’ll pay a premium for it, but since it’s no longer in production, the second-hand market is the only game in town. The value of this icon will probably only go up from here, so now is probably the best time to get one.
However, if you don’t like the ubiquitous 5711 and feel drawn to something more unique, you should check out another rare Royal Oak. This Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Reference 25960BC is a solid white gold watch with a gorgeous salmon colored dial. This reference is more commonly seen on white dials, making the salmon variant very popular. The rare, beautiful white gold that made the Italian Royal Oak famous.
This is a very unique Royal Oak that really stands out compared to most other models in the range. It is also one of the rarest variants of the Royal Oak ever created. For anyone who considers themselves a serious AP or Royal Oak collector, this is a crown jewel watch, and while it’s not well known yet, the popularity of the Royal Oak ensures that this won’t be the case forever in this way.
Currently, in the watch world, the most popular and popular watches are also the most mundane. The waiting list and high secondary market prices for standard edition watches still in production seem to be driven more by hype than logic. However, a watch like this that is rare in design and production numbers will always be collectible. This is objectively rare and special, and it will always be there regardless of the state of the watch market.