Insider: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin ref. 15202OR. Hands-on with a Grail of All Grails.

For many, owning an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 'Jumbo' in stainless steel is a milestone in their watch collecting life; however, for those of us that off-that, adding the 18K rose gold model to the collection is simply acquiring the grail of all grails. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin ref. 15202 is the closest one can get to owning a Royal Oak Jumbo ref. 5402ST from 1972 in terms of wearability, size and looks. While this redesigned Royal Oak Extra-Thin maintains the sleek lines of the other Royal Oak Jumbos and most of the core elements present in the original Royal Oak Jumbo ref. 5402, there are subtle differences that are worth going over in detail. Referred to as Extra-Thin by Audemars Piguet, the ref. 15202OR.OO.1240OR.01 is fitted with a 39 mm case and a sapphire crystal display case back just like the previous generation of Royal Oak Jumbos ref. 15202. However, the original Royal Oak Jumbo ref. 5402 from 1972 featured a very unique monocoque case design —also measuring 39 mm in diameter— with a completely solid case back, making it even thinner and more sleek.

The Dial

Featuring a deep blue petite tapisserie dial with AP at six o'clock and a matching dark blue calendar wheel, the dial of the Royal Oak Extra-Thin is a great reinterpretation of the dial on the most iconic stainless steel watch launched in 1972 and designed by Gerald Genta. The dial, a true chameleon depending on lighting conditions features applied batons with luminescent material —very weak in low light conditions— and the legendary double baton marker at 12 o'clock.

But what makes the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin ref. 15202OR really special is the applied 'AP' logo at six o'clock, that is truly reminiscent of the original Royal Oak Jumbo from 1972. While the font on the dial is completely different to the original font —new font is more modern and with serifs— and the petite tapisserie is not as tight as on the original Jumbo, the look of this watch is simply unparalleled.

Something else that is quite different between the Royal Oak Extra-Thin ref. 15202 and the Royal Oak Jumbo 5402, is that the calendar wheel on the first one matches the color of the dial, while on the latter it was white. A nice touch that in our opinion makes the new 15202 more appealing than the original Royal Oak Jumbo.

The Bracelet

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.

The Movement

Just like on all other Royal Oak Jumbos, the Extra-Thin Royal Oak features the legendary Audemars Piguet Calibre 2121 with a pullout crown and non-quick-set calendar mechanism with the date aperture at 3 o'clock. This calibre composed of 247 parts and 36 jewels is the thinnest automatic movement —with a central rotor— ever made and it provides a power reserve of 40 hours when fully wound. This is also one of the few movements in the industry that beats at a very unique frequency of 19,800 vph —2.75 Hz. The movement is fully visible via the display case back and is a real treat for the eyes. For those of you that have never owned a Royal Oak powered by the calibre 2121, there is one great thing and very unique feature about it. While this movement doesn't feature a quick-set calendar mechanism, it does have what is called a rapid-advance calendar system. With this rapid-advance system, the date can be set easily by advancing the hands past midnight all the way to 2 am and then moving them back to 10pm in order to advance the date wheel without the need to go around a full 24-hours for each date adjustment.

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the Royal Oak Extra-Thin ref. 15202OR wears true to its size on a 7.25" wrist. The blue dial provides an amazing contrast against the 18K rose gold case and the watch has unparalleled wrist presence, feeling simply perfect like all other gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks. A perfect daily wearer thanks to its sporty yet very elegant design. Heavy on the wrist? Yes, but something one can easily get used to very quickly.

Sticker Price $55,400 USD for 18K rose gold ref. 15202OR and $22,700 USD for stainless steel ref. 15202ST. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.