As you could read in last week’s installment of our 52Mondayz, Gerard is currently somewhere in South-America and he only brought one watch with him. So, I will take over this week and talk about a watch that I will wear.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202ST
I wrote about this watch often on Fratello Watches, from the beginning in 2004 till somewhere last year. It was my Holy Grail when I started collecting / buying watches in the late 1990s. I also gave it a mention in the podcast talk I had with Chris Mann of Time 4A Pint. You either love the Royal Oak or you hate it, there is little in between. It might also be the case that you slowly grow into liking these watches, as your taste in (fine) watches matures.
I don’t feel like rehearsing everything that I’ve ever said about this watch on Fratello Watches, so if you want to have more in-depth talk about it, check this article here where I compare it to that other ‘giant’, the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A.
The Royal Oak 15202ST is a watch with a hefty price tag, it always has been. I think today’s version (that was slightly updated in 2012) retails for about 22.000 Euro. Nowhere near the price I paid for mine in 2009, when I bought my Royal Oak 15202ST as a pre-owned watch (from 2006).
Before this Royal Oak 15202ST, I had the Royal Oak Date, or reference 15300ST. Another 39mm version of the Royal Oak, but slightly thicker and boosting their in-house calibre 3120 movement. It also had the silvery-white dial. However, it never felt as ‘the real thing’ because of the relatively thick bracelet and thicker case. Of course, the thicker case was because of the caliber 3120 movement, as the Royal Oak 15202ST (or ‘Jumbo’) had the 3.05mm thin caliber 2120 movement.
So, as soon as I had the opportunity to exchange it for the Royal Oak 15202ST ‘Jumbo’, I traded the 15300 and added some cash to get it.
For me, this is the Royal Oak to have. Perhaps it is even cooler to own a 5402A series (the first reference) or even the 14802 Jubilee version of 1992 that Gerard already discussed here. But in the end, it is about the ‘Jumbo’ and its ultra-thin movement and perfect case dimensions. Basically, it doesn’t matter much which reference or ‘year’ you buy as long as it is the ‘Jumbo’ or ‘Extra-Thin’, as Audemars Piguet refers to it today.
Rarely Wearing the 15202ST
I bought this watch in 2009 and have worn it quite a bit, as you can see on the pictures. It isn’t free from scratches or even dents and frankly, I don’t care much. It is a watch made for wearing. Audemars Piguet should be able to get it back like new (they only do a case and bracelet overhaul 3 times, to be able to maintain its forms and sharpness), but I am not looking forward to the hefty invoice.
Another thing that bugs me is the unfriendly behavior of Audemars Piguet in general. Now, that I love a watch or brand doesn’t necessarily have to mean a brand should love me too, but aside from the latest golf events from AP there’s little that appears in my mailbox. Emails stay unanswered and simple requests are ignored. Perhaps it is a bit different for me than for ‘normal’ customers, I care about such behavior and it is easier for me to spend money on a brand that shows some gratitude and politeness than on brands who don’t. It takes away a bit of the fun of owning and wearing a watch from them. I sold my Royal Oak 26300ST chronograph that I bought new in 2010 or 2011 as it didn’t bring me much fun.
That said, the Royal Oak 15202ST is definitely a keeper as for me it was (and is) that Holy Grail of stainless steel sports watches. Although I rarely wear it, I do love this watch a lot. The design is simply perfect and the movement is – to me – one of the most beautiful automatic calibers I can think of. Audemars Piguet did an incredible job respecting the original 1972 Royal Oak 5402 that Gérald Genta designed. Even today’s version, the current reference 15202ST is beautiful with its Clous de Paris dial and slightly updated bracelet.
The perfect luxury sports watch
I still think of the Royal Oak 15202ST being as beautiful today as when I first saw it somewhere in the 1990s. The advertisement (or testimonial) that AP had in their catalog from 2000, with Bruno Rubinski talking about his (pre-owned) Royal Oak is still one of the best out there in my opinion, and literally made me want to buy one.
To me, the Royal Oak 15202ST is the perfect luxury sports watch. It is a refined and sophisticated watch, that only connoisseurs will recognize as such. I took mine all around the world during my travels: Rome, New York, Singapore, London, Tokyo. It is a great companion if you don’t want to attract any wrong attention but still want to wear a nice piece to diners and meetings. In more recent times, I wear mine perhaps three or four times per year. But when I do so, I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate it. So this week, I will wear my Royal Oak 15202ST and then bring it back to the bank’s safe until January, then I will bring it to the SIHH in Geneva, its annual voyage.
This specific reference, 15202ST (pre-2012) with the AP logo at 12 o’clock can only be found in the pre-owned market. The new/current reference as some small differences, and can be purchased new for approx. 22.000 Euro. The prices for a pre-owned and pre-2012 Royal Oak 15202ST as featured in this article can be found between 15.000 and 19.000 Euro, depending on its condition and whether it has all the papers/booklets etc.