2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak as the first true luxury stainless steel sports watch. For the first time in 22 years, the watchmaker presents a new model of the Royal Oak “Jumbo”. 15202 disappeared, 16202 appeared.
AP has released four new 16202 models:
16202ST.OO.1240ST.01 stainless steel bracelet with special commemorative blue dial;
16202OR.OO.1240OR.01 rose gold bracelet with anthracite dial;
16202BA.OO.1240BA.01 yellow gold bracelet, yellow gold gradient dial;
16202PT.OO.1240PT.01 platinum strap with smoke green dial platinum bracelet.
Reference 16202 is the familiar 15202 with a new dial design and a new movement. What really makes the Royal Oak a Royal Oak is the Royal Oak movement (AP Calibre 2121 based on JLC 920). At the time, it was the thinnest self-winding movement in the world at just 3.05mm thick, making the 5402 a mere 7.01mm thick. Using the exact same caliber but with a sapphire caseback, the 15202 is 8.1mm thick and remains one of the finest, thinnest and most comfortable sports watches in the world.
The exterior dimensions of the new 16202 are exactly the same as the 15202, but the interior dimensions have changed considerably. That’s because AP went further and created the all-new calibre 7121, which is bigger (29.6mm vs. 28.4mm), more complicated (268 vs. 19,800), and most importantly, more autonomous, with a 55-hour power reserve vs. 15202 compared to a minimum guaranteed power reserve of 40 hours. The new Calibre 7121 is also thicker than the 2121 (3.2mm vs 3.05mm).
The 7121 took five years to develop and now uses a state-of-the-art ball bearing rotor and two internal reversers. The balance wheel is equipped with inertia blocks for added shock protection, and the big news for Royal Oak Jumbo users is that there is now a quick date setting mechanism.
Gone are the days of watch owners turning the small octagonal crown back and forth between 9pm and 12am every time the date needed to be set. This is a major change in the functionality of the watch.
Caliber 7121 is finished with complex Côtes de Genève, circular graining and beautifully polished corners. The introduction of the movement, which has affected all divisions, will serve as the basis for several new AP in-house movements, according to AP R&D director Lucas Ruggi. The Associated Press also notes that all 16202 watches released this year will feature a special 50th anniversary oscillating weight.
The dial doesn’t get an architectural update like it did ten years ago to mark the 40th anniversary, but there is a new design. The new product still retains the charming miniature tapestry pattern that first appeared on the Royal Oak dial, manufactured by Stern Frères in 1972. And at 12 o’clock, there is also a banoir (bathtub) hour marker that automatically matches the material of Audemars Piguet. The words “Swiss Made” are located at the bottom of the dial, and the minute track is printed directly on the dial.
One of the particularly striking dials is an anthracite grey, which is “achieved by means of an electroplating bath, the duration and temperature of which are decisive to achieve an even colouring of the individual components. The coloured lacquer is then carefully sprayed on while rotating. The outer area of the dial to achieve a smooth gradient for a smoky effect.” wholesale watch cheap
All the new dials are special, but the AP says the blue dial of the steel reference 16202 is almost a copy and paste of the labor-intensive original 5402 dial from 1972: “Dial Color Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 Originally Made by Geneva Dial Designed by Stern Frères. The blue hue is obtained by dipping each dial into an electroplating bath. While the composition of the mixture is also important, the duration and temperature are crucial. The master removes the dial too early and it turns purple; if Take it out too late and it will turn black. Then apply a thin layer of lacquer to the dial and mix in a few drops of black (No. 50).
The term “nuage” refers to cloud effects. When it hits the protective liquid varnish it forms a black drop. Today, the PVD coating process is exactly the same as the original dial, but with much more stability from one watch to another.
The first of the new 16202 Royal Oak Jumbo will certainly not be the last, but from a collector’s point of view, it is an evolution in the history of the model that does not fundamentally change the nature of the watch. That’s exactly what this watch deserves.