Insider: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26574 in Stainless Steel. Hands-On with the New Grail Watch for AP Lovers.

Released almost two months ago, the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26574 in stainless steel is quickly joining the ranks of grail watches for AP lovers and purists. On this hands-on review of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ref. 26574ST.00.1220ST.01, we will tell you why in our opinion, this is a new AP grail and a perfect daily wearer for most watchlifestylers. Since we already discussed the history of the Royal Oak Perpetual calendars since 1983 during our review of the rose gold version ref. 26574OR.00.1220OR.02 here, we will skip those details and head straight to the watch. But not before we warn you that our live pictures are so good that you better have that card number ready, because we know you will be calling your nearest Audemars Piguet boutique right away after reading this post. The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel —Perpetual Calendar— ref. 26574, joins all other Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars previously released since 1983 but with a larger case at 41 mm and a new automatic calibre.

The Dial

The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26574ST in stainless steel is available with a silver toned dial as ref. 26574ST.00.1220ST.01 or with a stunning blue dial ref. 26574ST.00.1220ST.02. This time due to the enlarged size of the case measuring now 41 mm, the watch features a 'Grande Tapisserie' dial —to learn more about the different types of tapisserie go to this article — that greatly increases the overall aesthetics, balance and legibility of the perpetual calendar indications. While we are suckers for blue dials on watches, and especially on Royal Oaks, we feel that the silvered dial makes this watch more of a daily wearer than its blue counterpart, and a color combo that simply goes well with anything and during any season.

The layout of the dial includes all of the traditional indications of a perpetual calendar watch: day, date, highly detailed aventurine moon phase indicator, month and leap year. Additionally, just like on the 120th Anniversary Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel ref. 25810OR.OO.0944.OR.01 the 52 weeks of the year are indicated by an outer chapter ring with corresponding central hand. A nice touch that other perpetuals in this price point don't offer. Actually having that extra hand, adds a very sporty touch to the watch.

The black lettering along with the red '31' and the aventurine disc for the moon phase, make this perpetual calendar extremely sporty, yet ultra elegant at the same time. One thing we want to point out, is that our live pictures depict the watch exactly how it looks in person. We actually photographed the watch under natural light to avoid any hue/color variation.

With a very clean layout in our opinion —but that to some might appear slightly busy—, the dial features month and leap year indicator at 12, day of the week at 9, date at 3 and moon phase indicator at 6 o'clock.

The Case & Bracelet

After working on this hands-on review of the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26574ST.00.1220ST.01. all we can say, is that we are extremely pleased with the new case size at 41 mm. While we are purists when it comes to the Royal Oak and 39 mm should be the size, the additional 2 mm on this watch make a great difference in a very positive way from readability, aesthetics and wearability. The stainless steel case measuring 41 mm in diameter and only 9.5 mm in thickness —not far from the 8.1 mm thickness of the Royal Oak Extra-Thin ref. 15202ST.OO.1240ST.01 reviewed here— is extremely well finished and surprisingly quite light. After weighing the watch, we were surprised to see that its total weight is approximately 164.4 grams —almost half an ounce lighter than the weight of a Royal Oak Chronograph with a few links removed. Perhaps the main reason regarding the weight difference, is that the Royal Oak Chronograph is fitted with a solid case back and the new Perpetual Calendar comes with a display case back.

It is important to point out that the case wears actually slightly smaller than its actual size and more like a 40 mm. You will definitely perceive a difference on how this watch wears when compared to the Royal Oak 15400 that is also fitted with a 41 mm case. The finish as we all know, is the best in the industry with alternating satin brushed finish with those unmistakeable mirror polished Royal Oak chamfers and edges. The case features two correctors on each side of the caseband to ease adjustment of the calendar. The watch is also fitted with a screw-down crown.

The bracelet is a work of art on its own and is fitted with the newer generation double folding deployant clasp with Audemars Piguet sand blasted inserts, just like on the last H-serial 15300s or on the 15400s. As you will see, the inside of the clasp is different to that on the 18K rose gold version of this watch, as we featured it here. The last link on the bracelet where it connects to the case is now marked with the bracelet reference number '1220'.

The Movement & Display Case Back

The display case back allows for full view of the amazing new calibre 5134 inside this beauty. The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Quantième Perpetuel is powered by the new in-house automatic calibre 5134 based on its predecessor the calibre 2120. However, this new calibre has been enlarged in accordance with the updated 41 mm diameter case size. The highly finished 4.31 mm thick movement is fully visible through the glare-proof sapphire crystal case back. The suspended barrel which helps achieving extra thinness is adorned with circular Côtes de Genève and the wheels are satin brushed. The mainplate is circular grained while all bridges are bevelled and adorned with Côtes de Genève. The 22K gold monobloc rotor is engraved with Audemars Piguet and its external segment is adorned with a tapisserie motif echoing the iconic pattern of the Royal Oak dials. The movement has a total thickness of 4.31 mm and a diameter of 29.00 mm. Composed of 374 parts and 38 jewels, the movement provides a power reserve of 40 hours while oscillating at a frequency of 19,800 vph. The oscillating weight is guided by a peripheral ring rolling on four ruby runners, which reduces friction and wear to the minimum possible. Moon phase indicator, laser microstructured, laid on aventurine that requires correction every 125 years and 317 days. One other thing that is important to note, is that this is not a modular perpetual calendar calibre as the 2120/2800 but a completely redesigned one-piece calibre based off of its predecessor the 2120.

The display case back is spectacularly finished with a thick and nice raised engraving surrounding the sapphire crystal that reads "Royal Oak Quantieme Perpetuel".

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the watch wears slightly smaller and more like a 40 mm piece on a 7.25" wrist. This perpetual calendar is a perfect daily wearer with very strong wrist presence and a true grail for AP lovers. Opposed to most perpetual calendars out there, the best thing about the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26574ST is its sporty yet very elegant construction. The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is also available with blue dial as ref. 26574ST.00.1220ST.02 —pictured at the bottom.

But what makes this watch a new grail for AP lovers? Its history with a very limited production for each previous Royal Oak perpetual calendar reference released since 1983, its new more robust size at 41 mm, its unparalleled looks, the right price and its extremely limited availability. While for the rest of the year, the watch will only be available at Audemars Piguet boutiques, next year it will finally become available through AP's authorized dealer network. However, considering the limited production of this watch, we foresee that only the strongest Audemars Piguet authorized dealers will a handful of them in.

Sticker Price $60,900 USD in stainless steel and $95,700 USD in 18K rose gold. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.