Tropical 36 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
The midsized neo-vintage RO known as the 14790 looks better to me today than it ever has. The tide of neo-vintage is rising anyway, but this ship has a hydrofoil on it or something. But they don’t all look like this. After introduction taking over from the first ref. 4100 in 1992, it remained in production longer than any other mid-sized Royal Oak to date. That means a decent chunk were produced. Yet, it’s maybe one in a hundred, probably ever fewer, that get this caramel.
Who do you imagine wears a very tropical RO today? Is it A. One of us, some watch collector who sought it out, B. Someone unassuming, a well-heeled individual who’s perhaps had it from new, C. @jfdorozco, or D. Someone who will never frequent the AP house, begging to purchase an openworked double balance in ceramic. In fact, the correct answer is all of the above. That’s a part of the appeal, you’re in the AP world in a way that masquerades as saying only good things about you. If you were expecting the answer to be E. Idiots who fall for damaged dials, you’re also right. But that doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
This example comes from the second series of 14790, produced from 1993 until around 2000. This dial introduced the modern ‘Audemars Piguet’ font, long applied hour markers. Confusingly, the second series came with two different handsets, one equal thickness to the indices and another slightly wider. All dials were petite tapisserie, whereas the pattern enlarged to grande tapisserie in the third series. Still in use, AP’s ultra-thin 2225, a JLC 889 ébauche which allowed for a then-razor-high 7.5mm rise. Tropical dials are not uncommon in this range of production and can range from outright damage to the pleasing even light caramel tone here. Interestingly, it is not just black dials which have shown proclivity to turn tropical, as navy and Klein also were susceptible to lightening in this series. These dials are a matter of taste, and some age more attractively than others. This one’s right up there.
The case, too, is great. Sharp as it comes for a watch of this vintage, with a moderate level of surface wear all over it as if to advertise that it hasn’t seen a wheel. Worth noting that the lume in a few indices has cracked and fallen, that’s not ideal. But you can’t them all. It comes with guarantee papers and instruction booklet from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this tropical 14790ST here from Bulang & Sons listed as POA.