Tropical 25686ST ‘Yves Klein’ Audemars Piguet Royal Oak QP
There are some watches so attractive that I feel something adjacent to physical pain at the fact that they will never be in my watch roll. Usually, they are highly unique: things like a Frodsham Double Impulse, a ‘Vieux Panier’ Vacheron 43031, royal blue dial E855 Memovox, . . .the list is endless. However, sometimes watches of this category were produced en masse, but made spectacular by the steady march of time and UV exposure. This 25686ST straddles both categories with equanimity, an ultra-rare Yves Klein dial RO QP from the 90s made in just 30 examples and given a warm purple tone through loving use and generous sunshine.
Klein was a French artist who became known for frequent use of an electric blue hue which he later patented under code IKB 191. This Royal Oak perpetual and its electric blue dial seem to have been made in his likeness (though the association is not officially sanctioned). The ref. 25686 is rare bird in its own right, produced in just 233 examples across all metals. This reference is, in essence, a 25654 with a display back. All the good things remained: 39mm, JLC 920 ébauche, and the inherent blend or sporting complication which this watch’s ancestors pioneered. This electric dial variant, however, is far rarer, at an alleged 30 examples.
This dial, though, is clearly a one-off. Electric sapphire blue has been made an even purple, with an additional warmth at the tops of its tapisserie. Tropical dials can send the appeal of a watch violently in opposing directions: desperately attractive or a bit . . .unfortunate. Those which come to market after years of use with these beautifully even tone alterations seem like they’ve almost been planned by AP themselves, though in truth are just a byproduct of watch being used as intended. The idea that loving use can indeed make a watch more special is one I quite like. Safe queens be damned, this is the way.
This example shows very little wear. Even the highly polished bezel section only shows the lightest of surface wear. I see no significant marks on its bracelet or clasp. The all important dial is remarkably well preserved. All tritium is matched, there is no peeling, and all printing is clear and unfaded. It comes from a well-regarded Florida retailer.
Find this tropical Yves Klein here from Menta Watches listed as POA.