25657BA Audemars Piguet Quantième Perpétuel

It is not an exaggeration to say that much of the fantastic complicated watchmaking at places like Patek, VC, Journe, RW Smith, or even Lange today owes their existence in large part to this watch and its progeny. This was the watch which, in the highest throes of the quartz crisis, first defied convention to embrace mechanical watchmaking as sovereign and permanent to Switzerland. It equated mechanical complication with timeless luxury, again. The trio of neo-vintage QPs from the holy trinity have soared in recent years, and yet some of the second or third iteration references seem to have missed the ride. For your consideration, an ultra-thin (3.95mm) perpetual calendar for about the same ask as a great gilt 5513 today. And it has one of the greatest origin stories of any watch.

AP’s top brass was investing heavily into quartz and it was feared that no budget for mechanical watchmaking would be present in a few years. A team of three senior watchmakers (lead watchmaker Michel Rochat, founder of technical department Daniel Golay, and head of service Wilfred Berney) with immense skill formed their own Skunkworks inside the company. It was deliberately kept secret, for fear of reprimand. Once the lights were turned off at the end of a long day, they would convene. Without AP’s consent and totally unpaid, the three designed late into the evening for years. The result was the world’s thinnest self wound perpetual calendar movement ever, the 2120/2800.

To the extent that modern AP has become the Royal Oak company, they do immense disservice to this legacy, one of the greatest in watchmaking. This watch led the charge for mechanical watchmaking’s return, and sold to great success. The team of three were visionary, and we have them to thank in large part for the watchmaking landscape today.


This second generation (or third if you count the nine examples of 5516 watches) 25657 was produced in parallel with the 25548 in the early 1980s. Total production has been recorded at 1821 pieces across all metals. There is 1 piece in steel, 5 in bimetal, 16 in white gold, 128 in platinum, 362 in pink, and 1309 in this yellow. The 5548 gets collector’s attention, but many of these 25657 with its sunken subdials, the main distinction, are a relative value pick and just as beautiful. They’re 36mm, wear like a dream, and ooze timelessness. How these still sell at half the retail of the cheapest Royal Oak today I will never understand. Rochat, Golay, and Berney, we salute you.

This example appears to be in excellent condition overall. The case appears full, although it’s hard or nearly impossible to make a judgement just off these images, lovely as they are. Its dial appears flawless, with clear print. It comes with its original certificate, box, an extract, and gold deployant from a well-regarded Belgain retailer.