Tropical 4100BA Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Technically speaking, this is a blue dial. If you order an extract of archive from AP, it will tell you it’s a blue Stern-made petit tapisserie. Except it isn’t, is it? This is blue in the same way that David Bowie dressed reserved: maybe in the early years, but by Ashes to Ashes he wore the spacesuit around town in London and this dial is now a flamboyant, volcanic orange through its time tanning in the sun. There’s only the tiniest sliver of blue hanging on for dear life under the rehaut if you look closely. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more drastically aged example, the ultimate ‘chameleon caricature’ of tropicalized dials if you catch my drift. Mostly, we see tropical dials in steel tool watches, watches which exist to do a job out in the sun. It’s actually quite heartwarming to see a Royal Oak loved and worn to the extent that this resulted.
Now, I have a bit of a confession to make; I have yet to find love for stones on my dials. This is purely a matter of personal taste, mind you. On some people, they look exceptional. Maybe I’m not man enough, maybe it’s my humble midwestern roots, but I simply can’t seem to pull them off with any vestige of grace. It’s like seeing Olaf Scholz in a Cuban chain, preposterous. No one wants that. Yet, I’m having second thoughts. Are diminutive indices alone enough to fly mostly under the radar? Every rule either has its exception or is waiting to be broken. I don’t know which this is, only that this is what reconsideration looks like.
Put simply, it’s the most bewitching ref. 4100BA I’ve come across. When you see 4 digits in an AP RO reference (predating the 1985 switch to 5), you know it’s a classic flavor. The 4100 is the very first midsized 35mm Royal Oak, flat signature and early petit tapisserie pattern, more vintage than neo. Inside is a JLC 888 ébauche, AP’s 2123. We’re used to tropical tool watches, but you don’t see nearly as many AP references worn this heavily in the sun. Really, I’m using it as a thought exercise to walk through the fact that I’m slowly approaching being diamond dial-curious. Why limit oneself? Diamonds needn’t be solely for Soundcloud mumble rappers. Harrison Ford has an earring. Jeremy Clarkson is wearing enough bangles to be a gap-year teacher these days. Jason Statham has a Prince Albert. Alright, I made that last one up. But there’s nothing invented about the pull of this dial’s attraction. It might be time for me to get my Ziggy Stardust on. I can’t be alone, can I?
The case here is magnificent too, totally sharp and really only lightly worn, a bit of a contrast to the dial’s state but not totally incongruous. I just can’t get over this dial’s volcano-orange, but that’s just me. Almost Mclaren Papaya. It comes recently serviced from a well-regarded Dutch retailer. Probably not cheap, just a guess.