Salmon Dial 14790ST Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
At this late stage, the Royal Oak is effectively its own brand. Just don’t ask AP and it all makes sense. In their long and varied run, Royal Oaks have inflated, deflated, grown pushers, gone complicated, ceramic, quartz, and even been desecrated by Spiderman. Like any brand, not all its offerings are created equal; I’m hoping Marvel is the kind of rock-bottom low for Royal Oak, like an alcoholic getting fired or something. The 5402 will forever be the classic flavor. But midsized and neo-vintage is where the classic aesthetic goes to party. The 14970 has played canvas to some of the most audacious dials across three distinct series, yet most are well under the ask of any jumbo case. It’s a collector’s paradise in 36mm (though wears much more like 37). In salmon though, there’s a mysterious question of origin.
The way to tell the series apart is simple, look at the tapisserie and Audemars-line typography. The 3rd series is separated by grande tapisserie. The first and second are petite. The first series has a block Audemars Piguet font, where each letter is equal height. The second has higher caps on A & P. You’ll find many of the braver dials were launched in this third series, such as yellow, red, and military dials. But Yves Klein and Salmon were introduced from the second series, which means you get the delicious petite tapisserie in salmon. Of all these, the salmon are incredibly rare. Really, really rare.
Now here’s what’s fun. No one knows if salmon 14790STs are ‘original’. There are but a handful. And while the dials are all genuine, AP records show that they never delivered a new 14790 with a salmon dial. Yet they pop up in the market. It used to be thought that they were 14800 dials, re-cased in 14790s, but the dials aren’t actually interchangeable it turns out. Most likely, they are all believed to have been made available to order for a few select VIP clients at request during routine service. There are a few watches from new from single owners who confirm this was the case, though AP haven’t officially commented. But then one owner claims his to have been delivered as such, despite the lack of record at AP. So of all the 14790s at the midsized-neo-party, this is the mysterious, enchanting beauty hanging out in the dimly lit corner alone, not talking to anyone. And somehow that makes it more attractive to many, psychology is a strange beast.
This example has a full, excellent case and bracelet. The bevels look great. That all-important dial is likewise excellent, it’s only about 22 years old but looks no older than 11. It comes with a certificate of origin from a well-regarded Genevan retailer.