Mother of Pearl Dial 25554BA Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel
I don’t know what a Royal Oak means any more, and I’m pretty sure you don’t either. Back in the 70s when lapels were wide enough to create lift at speed and you could actually say ‘rad’, it was one thing. A Royal Oak told the world steel could be luxury, mechanical watches were the game, and design matters. If you’ve ever worn a precious metal Royal Oak, you’ll know the feeling is more like putting on medieval armor than a watch. It’s a brick: dependable, solid as a lifelong friend, and quickly became part of the uniform for Riviera playboys and bankers alike. This is when the 25554BA was made, a time when the Royal Oak meant one thing. And this was very possibly as good as it ever got.
Somewhere in the early 90s, though, the Royal Oak became a symbol of the newly monied. It was worn by people who ordered pink cocktails and said things like, ‘going forward’ while scratching their collective noses. By the late 90s, the Offshore began to resemble a deep sea creature that had been dragged up to the surface, morphing from Rurik Gislason to Boris Johnson. Then began Bennahmias and the era of unlimited limited editions. This attracted NBA players, but also money. Which meant the brand now had footing to do serious watchmaking in the Royal Oak line again. So we have the RD series, Double Balances which require an M of spend history, and Concept Series (all of which were bought by John Mayer). But just to be sure we couldn’t take them too seriously, they partnered with Marvel and produced a figurine watch that is as attractive as syphilis. A mixed bag, then.
All of which brings me to this. It’s a pre leap-year indication ref. 25554 with a mother of pearl dial, the first complicated Royal Oak and about as serious a collector’s QP as you could dream up (even with a slightly thinner case than what came after). It’s one of 279 across all metals, and with a mother of pearl dial it’s just a handful. It’s the start of all the experimental Royal Oaks, but also the first time complication was made sporting (ever). Mostly, though, I love it because what it means is clear. It means you drive a Pagoda SL, not a Huracan. It means you have your shoes made by Savile Row, not Balenciaga or the swoosh of child labor. And it means you’ve probably never been inside an AP house, which is like being at your rich uncle’s place whilst being spied on by the KGB. Do the decent thing. Not spend history; spend on history.
And as examples go, I’m only seeing minimal wear on the highly polished polished case sections and that’s about it. The bracelet looks to have been worn about four times in total. It’s wicked, the whole thing. It comes with an extract dating it to 1986, from a well-regarded Dubai retailer.