The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph ref. 26320 we are reviewing here, is the latest iteration of the Royal Oak Chrono. Released for the first time as ref. 25860 in 39mm and then as ref. 26300 —reviewed by us here. The Royal Oak Chronograph is a model with more than ten different reference numbers and all of them are fitted with the same calibre 2385. The different Royal Oak Chronograph references to date are: 25860, 25960, 25966, 25978, 26022, 26068, 26300, 26320, 26557 and the limited editions Royal Oak City of Sails for Alinghi ref. 25979, Leo Messi ref. 26325 and Tribute to Italy ref. 26326ST.
The Royal Oak Chrono is such an important watch, that in 2002 while Audemars Piguet was commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Royal Oak, they named this watch one of the three essential Royal Oak watches along with the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Skeleton and the Royal Oak Grande Complication. That same year, the Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph was released as ref. 25977. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph ref. 26320ST is available with black dial as ref. 26320ST.OO.1220ST.01, silver dial as ref. 26320ST.OO.1220ST.02 and with blue dial as ref. 26320ST.OO.1220ST.03
The dial comes in a variety of colors and configurations; however, one of our favorite ones is this blue 'boutique only' dial. The dial features the 'grande tapisserie' featuring a 12-hour chrono register at 9, a 30-minute register at 3, a running seconds register at 6 and a date aperture between 4 and 5 o'clock. The date aperture is a great feature that other iconic chronographs like the Rolex Daytona don't have. While the dial features the 'grande tapisserie' pattern, this 'tapisserie' is slightly different to the 'grande tapisserie' on the Royal Oak ref. 15300 or ref. 15400 as the spacing between the pyramidal squares on this 'clous de Paris' seems to be a little bit wider than the one on other Royal Oaks. This dial is a true chameleon depending on where the light hits it.
The Royal Oak Chronograph ref. 26320 like all other Royal Oak chronographs is fitted with a solid monocoque case with no display case back measuring 41 mm in diameter and 10.80 mm in thickness. This watch is fitted with screw-lock pushers and screw-down crown making it waterproof to a depth of 50 meters. The chrono pushers are easy to unscrew and do not require strong pressure to activate the chronograph. The case features sharp chamfers and a satin brushed finish that is so nicely done that you can almost feel the grain of it with your fingertips.
Much like a supple joint, the bracelet is made up of a juxtaposition of small parts graduated by decreasing size. An exemplary configuration and the ideal model to hold the case firmly in place while providing complete freedom for wrist movements. The sophisticated construction of the Royal Oak bracelet uses parts that are all different in size. Arranged in diminishing order so as not to weight down the watch, they are graduated into seven different sizes, alternating bracelet links and connecting studs. Each of these parts, is meticulously machined, pierced, polished and checked in order to fit together perfectly with no gaps or unevenness.
After trimming, polishing and brushing, the links are initially assembled in their definitive order. Another operation transforms this 'staircase', achieved by the gradually diminishing length of the parts, into a double symmetrical curve. The intermediate studs are then placed and the assembly shanks are driven in before soldered at the tips. The soldered tips are perfectly invisible on the edges of the bracelet.
The movement powering the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chrono is the calibre 2385 an automatic chronograph movement based off of the legendary Frederic Piguet calibre 1185 also used on the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph —as caliber 1137— and the Breguet Marine Chronograph —as calibre 576— amongst other timepieces. This movement still remains the thinnest automatic chronograph calibre ever made, measuring only 5.5mm in thickness. The movement is composed of 304 parts, beats at 21,600 vph, is fitted with 37 jewels and provides a power reserve of 40 hours when fully wound.
On the Wrist & Pricing
As you all know, the Royal Oak Chronograph ref. 26300 is now discontinued and has been replaced by this 41mm ref. 26320ST. Regardless of the change in size, the Royal Oak Chronograph will always remain true to the Royal Oak essence and one of our five Royal Oak essentials. On the wrist, the watch wears true to its size and slightly smaller than the Royal Oak ref. 15400 due to its thicker case. While the blue dial Royal Oak Chrono is the most elegant one, the silver dial offers the most versatility for every day wear.
Sticker Price $23,900 USD. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.