Tropical 14790ST Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Through both a design and historic lens, the 14790 is perhaps the truest iteration of the 36mm mid-sized Royal Oak. 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. This open window allowed for a huge degree of variants to emerge over three series, perhaps the most diverse Royal Oak reference to date. Amongst the most highly collected are the famed three vibrantly colored dials: Yves Klein blue, bright citrus yellow, and an outrageous ‘Ferrari’ red. However, today’s offering is just a standard black ‘petite tapisserie’, made a majestic caramel tone through UV exposure and a life well worn.
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 werepetite 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. Without wishing to be hyperbolic, this is the best tropical black dial I think I’ve ever seen for the reference. Worth noting though that its case has been worn just as, let’s say, enthusiastically.A perfect dial in a hard worn case should raise flags, as should the opposite. The overall cohesiveness here is distinctly in the pro column for me.
As stated, the case is hard worn. But it does not appear to have been abused on a polishing wheel. The dial is a perfect even caramel, and I mean perfect. Its tritium is all intact and a deep gold. It comes from a well-regarded Shanghai retailer with box and papers.
Find this 14790ST here from Woohoo Time for 49000 USD.