25654BA Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual
While the Royal Oak was intended to be a time-only sports watch, its abilities quickly diversified after the 5402 with a range complications. The most iconic of these must be the Quantieme Perpetual (or perpetual calendar moonphase to us peasants). It is a beautifully contrasted blend of sporting pretense and haute watchmaking that, before the ref. 25554, hadn’t really been on offer to the world before. This example comes from just after, the ref. 25654BA, produced in just 422 examples from 1982 to 1993.
By the 1980s, AP’s massive Royal Oak bet was already starting to pay off. Yet, quartz movements were still rising in popularity, casting the entirety of the Swiss watchmaking industry in an uncertain light. In the face of failure, AP chose to double down with an even larger bet: squeezing the incredible ultra-thin perpetual calendar movement developed in secret by Michel Rochat, Daniel Golay, and Wilfred Berney for the 5548 into a steel Royal Oak case. AP then had to figure out how to meet water resistance with the tiny pushers to alter the QP in the case side. This was the best of utilitarian usability meeting the heights of watchmaking complication. Nothing about this watch was easy to create, and that audacity has seen it become a collector darling in recent years.
Moreover, its case is still the same 39mm of the original 5402 Royal Oak. It is powered by AP’s calibre 2120/2800, an ultra-thin JLC 920 ébauche which has been considered by many the most technically refined ultra-thin perpetual calendar movement ever. This ref. 25654 was sold alongside the first-ever 25554 Royal Oak QP. The main distinction between the two is that this case grew in thickness by .7mm to better insure water resistance around the small pushers buried in its case. 800 examples of the 25654 were made in total, including 422 in this yellow gold, 272 in steel, 72 in two tone, 33 in platinum, and one in white gold. This watch didn’t just see AP through the quartz crisis, it solidified their place as an innovators and invented an entire category.
This example shows very little wear. Even the highly polished bezel section only shows the lightest of surface wear. I see no significant marks on its bracelet or clasp. The dial, which a larger signature variant, is clear of any damage. It comes from a well-regarded Swiss retailer.
Find this 25654BA here from Herschmann for 171000 EUR.