In 1972, Audemars Piguet first introduced the Gerald Gentaâdesigned Royal Oak to the market. It was iconoclastic to say the least. Since then, the Royal Oak has become one of the most instantly-recognizable watches in the world and early vintage examples are highly sought after. But what you may not know, is that in 1976 the very first ladies’ Royal Oak, designed by Jacqueline Dimier, was released. That makes this year the 40th anniversary of the ladies’ Royal Oak and Audemars Piguet has partnered up with Florentine jeweler Carolina Bucci to celebrate, releasing four new women’s watches with a new frosted gold finish.
The new frosted gold Royal Oaks come in two metals, white and rose gold, and two sizes, 33mm and 37mm. The watches maintain the same general design as the classic Royal Oak and feature a beautiful silvered tapisserie dial with center seconds and date. The 33mm watches are powered by the caliber 2713, which, unfortunately, is a quartz movement â AP makes such great in-house movements that are often found in Royal Oaks and it’s a bit of a letdown to see something quartz used here. However, the manufacture redeems itself by using the automatic (yay!) caliber 3120 in the 37mm versions. But the most impressive detail about these watches is the hammered gold finish that covers the entire watch, from case to bracelet.Â
Frosted Gold And Carolina Bucci
So what exactly is frosted gold? Well, it is the result of an ancient technique (also called the Florentine technique) where gold is hammered repeatedly until it creates an evenly textured, shimmering appearance on the surface of the metal. Carolina Bucci, a Florentine jewelry designer, has been using this technique for decades in her shop. Bucci uses a diamond-tipped tool to create a layer of tiny indentations, which in turn makes the surface of the metal appear frosted (hence, frosted gold).Â
The shape and finish of the case and bracelet are what make the Royal Oak the Royal Oak at all, so messing with it needed to be done carefully. Audemars Piguet and Bucci took the Florentine technique and worked together in applying it to the surface of the gold cases and bracelets of the new ladies’ Royal Oak watches without altering the basic geometry. The finish creates a shimmery effect without adding diamonds, which (despite my
secret love of bling) feels fresh in today’s market, and it breathes new life into something we all assume we known so well.Â
But I think what Audemars has done well here is the utilization of a strong female designer such as Carolina Bucci, who is carrying on the legacy of the influential designs of Jaqueline Dimier, one of the most important female watch designers ever.Â
For more information on these pieces, you can visit Audemars Piguet online. These watches will be released at SIHH 2017, and Audemars Piguet will not be announcing official pricing until then.