14790ST ‘Yves Klein’ Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
We love a Royal Oak around here. However, not all are created equal. In the pantheon of neo-vintage Royal Oaks, a few dials are clear standouts. Right up near the top are the rare, electric-blue Yves Klein dials. Klein was a French artist who became known for frequent use of a vibrant blue hue which he later patented under code IKB 191. This Royal Oak and its blindingly blue dial seem to have been made in his likeness (the association is not official, but always used as an adjective amongst collectors). This ref 14790ST is perhaps its best expression, as the simplicity of its time-date-only dial allows that most flamboyant blue to take center stage.
The underlying 14790 was introduced in ’92 with a more-svelte 36mm case. The reference spanned three generation of dial with unique designs. This second series dial shows a different font for the AP signature, double caps for the AP, thicker hands, and longer indices. Still in use, AP’s ultra-thin 2225, a JLC 889 ébauche which allowed for a then-razor-thin 7.5mm rise. Through both a design and historic lens, the 14790 is perhaps the truest iteration of the 36mm mid-sized Royal Oak. It remained in production longer than any other mid-sized Royal Oak to date. This open window allowed for a huge degree of variants to emerge over three series, perhaps the most diverse Royal Oak reference to date.
Interestingly, evidence has suggested these ‘Petite Tapisserie’ Yves Klein dials were produced by Stern, who also made the original 5402 dials. The color has been observed in a range of references, including the perpetual, day-date, and chronograph. No one is quite certain why this very low but not limited production dial came and disappeared so quickly in the 90s, but that mystery is now lore. Many strange, limited, and slightly altered APs were released in this era in the midsized case. Something to be grateful for and worthy a bit of studying for the Genta-heads (can I call us that?) among us.
This example has a full case, with light surface wear commensurate with age. The dial is lovely, really nothing to note against it. No patina as it’s Luminova, but, yeah, you can’t with them all. It comes with a full set and extract of archive from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this Yves Klein 14790ST here from Watches London for 57500 GBP.