6005BA Audemars Piguet Rectangular ‘Royal Oak’
This is a Royal Oak in the same way that Yoko Ono is a member of The Beatles . . .which is to say this isn’t a Royal Oak. Despite the bracelet and design language similarities, AP never called the 6005 Jumbo a Royal Oak, it went simply by the ‘Quartz Line’. But between friends, this is colloquially called the quartz or rectangular Royal Oak. And it screams louder than Yoko Ono too. To some, this is one of the most blasphemous watches to come out of Le Brassus. Part uncanny valley, part Ferrari SUV (something which many said shouldn’t exist but supports the brand fiscally), all experimentally 80s, and is one of the rare occasions where AP really threw caution to the wind.
Management at AP wanted to resist throwing quartz into the Royal Oak line, despite the demand. So Jacques-Louis Audemars and Georges Golay created this design which they called a ‘related line’, known as just the Quartz. Jacqueline Dimier called them not Royal Oaks, but relatives. It was not intended to be timeless, but meet market demand and keep AP alive. Everyone then wanted thin, everyone wanted quartz, and a whole lot of people were buying rectangular or square watches. AP had to oblige. Many think this rectangle with a beveled edge should not exist, viewed as a moment of weakness. Respectfully, I view this as AP at their best. Perhaps not in a design sense, but in responding remarkably quickly, and with a distinct style, to a problem that might’ve otherwise crushed the brand.
The line came in two sizes, this is a rarer jumbo at 32x41mm. What’s really fun though is seeing people react. I’ve seen two of these in the metal in my time in watches. The ability a rectangular RO (that isn’t an RO) has to confound is really only matched by two other watches: the square 222 or ‘Nautellipse’. These three are so iconoclast because they prey on your expectations. You see this bracelet playing with light and you think you know what’s coming. But you’re wrong. It’s the contrarian’s Royal Oak, even if it isn’t one.
This example has a fantastic case, and that’s really what condition is about in these. Sharp edges, despite the gold. The tapisserie dial is clean and with little in the way of ageing. It comes with an extract of archive and service papers from a well-regarded Dutch retailer.