Perpetual calendars come in all forms, shapes, metals and prices. However, few brands stand out from the rest as far as their perpetual calendars in terms of history, reliability and prestige. When you are looking for a perpetual calendar the first brand names that pop up would be Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin as these make the ‘holy trinity of watchmaking’. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual —Quantième Perpétuel— ref. 26574 was released at the end of 2015 and since then, it holds ‘watch grail status’.
Joining all other Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars previously released since 1983 but with a larger case at 41 mm and the new automatic calibre 5134 the ref. 26574 is available in a handful of metals, combinations and dials. And just as a reference, Audemars Piguet has been making perpetual calendars since 1950 according to their archives and the brand excels at it.
But what makes a perpetual calendar the perfect daily wearer? Well, to begin with, its design needs to be timeless and able to look good in any setting, occasion or activity. Second, the metal and case construction needs to be sturdy enough to hold the abuse and wear that it’s been put through 24/7. Third, it has to be reliable, accurate and collectable. And in all honesty, the blue dial stainless steel version of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26574 checks all the boxes.
Released in 1972, the Royal Oak was originally conceived as an all around watch that would perform well in any setting and would accompany its wearer everywhere. Referred to as ‘Safari’ —the secret name before its release at Audemars Piguet—, the watch was positioned in a very unique way with selling taglines like: “Steel at the Price of Gold and Other Contradictions” or “It Takes More Than Money to Wear the Royal Oak”.
More than 40 years later, the Royal Oak keeps performing in the boardroom as well as it does in the pool or during an African safari through the savanna. Despite being a scratch magnet, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in stainless steel is well suited for daily wear and properly equipped for most activities including shallow water swimming thanks to its screw-down crown, 20 meter water resistance, and its sturdy 41 mm case construction that remains relatively thin at 9.5 mm and not far from the 8.1 mm thickness of the Royal Oak Extra-Thin ref. 15202ST.
Originally released in 1983 as ref. 5554 —later named 25554— in stainless steel —49 pieces—, 18K yellow gold —229 pieces— and one unique piece in platinum, the Royal Oak QP was already making history only eleven years after the launch of the Royal Oak in 1972. Fitted at the time with a 39 mm case like the original Royal Oak 'Jumbo'—, the Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel has seen many variations, limited editions, case sizes and subtle changes to its design totaling 16 different perpetual calendar base references and more than 90 different models including grand complications in the Royal Oak Family.
While the layout of the dial includes all of the traditional indications of a perpetual calendar including the day, date, moon phase indicator, month and leap year, the Royal Oak Perpetual ref. 26574ST also indicates the week number via and outer chapter ring with corresponding central hand. A nice touch that other perpetuals don't offer and that makes the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual even better for daily wear. Not to mention that its aventurine disc for the moon phase indication is really a thing of beauty. Understated, reliable, durable and good looking the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is perfect for those that are looking to fly under the radar while wearing what is one of the most ‘F…. You’ watches out there. Steel at the price of gold.
Another great quality of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26574ST.00.1220ST.02 is that is powered by a self-winding movement, the new AP in-house calibre 5134. While the ritual of winding a manual wound perpetual every morning is something that many of us enjoy, there’s nothing more convenient than not worrying about anything when wearing a watch and making sure that it will continue to tick powered by the kinetic energy from our wrist.
The Perfect Daily Wearer
If you are looking for a very reliable automatic Perpetual Calendar in stainless steel that is fitted with a stainless steel bracelet and that is highly collectible, look no further. With a 41 mm case I personally love how the watch wears on most wrists, especially on mine. Something else that is perfect about the stainless steel Royal Oak Perpetual ref. 26574ST.00.1220ST.02 is that the watch is quite thin and tucking it under your shirt cuff is not a problem. A daily wearer should be able to go with you everywhere, and this watch is built in a very sturdy way with its screw-down crown that increases its water resistance and makes it the perfect companion even in the shower or during a shallow pool/sea swim. But perhaps, what we like the most about the watch is how understated it is and how only those that are in the know will be able to tell what’s on your wrist. Its blue dial is strikingly beautiful offering exceptional readability. A real stunner in the metal that is highly collectible commanding prices well above its sticker price and more in the $70K+ range.
Sticker Price $60,900 USD. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.