Tuscan Dial 258205SP Audemars Piguet Royal Oak QP
There are a lot of criticisms one could lobby at the Royal Oak compan . . .errr, I mean Audemars Piguet. However, the more deeply I investigate interesting edge cases of the Royal Oak, the more I respect their resolve. See, the Royal Oak hasn’t remained one thing. AP have clung to its inherent appeal, yes. But they’ve experimented thoroughly since the 80s in an attempt to see just how far one could push that inherent sporting appeal. Forget the fact that this is a QP. In all my exploration of the RO, Tuscan dials might just be the most absurdly labor-intensive ‘haute’ horlogerie credentials that the RO has even received.
This dial has hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of tiny little craters adorning its surface. Each was delivered with a tiny hammer, by hand. This isn’t a texture created by some electrolysis process or coating, this is just metal beaten by hand into something more. Allow me a slight metaphorical digression into my background here, physics. I’ve always admired the helicopter over the airplane for its sheer stubbornness. See, an airplane works with the laws of physics to achieve lift, harmoniously. The helicopter, well, it sort of beats them down with an iron fist. Now, in watchmaking, dial texture can be achieved through a variety of means. Grand Seiko often applies mechanical process while lacquering dials, creating textures through working with machinery beautifully. Here, AP just said fuck it and beat the dial into beauty, a kind of similar submission through sheer will. See what I mean? It’s hard not to respect that resolve.
These Tuscan dials are then galvanized to create a rich, uneven blue. They were mostly made for QPs, as shown here. But other dials appear in other less complicated RO references and even the odd 25657. Hand hammering as a finish was fairly rare before the Tuscan dials, now more common as a tool for independent watchmaking. It is as beautiful as it is consumingly labor intense to produce. Many speculate there are fewer than 25 Tuscan dial Royal Oaks, full stop. Whatever the number, I’m glad they exist . . .though acquiring one is matter for those of far more considerable means.
This example is cased in a lovely steel & platinum 258205 QP. Its exterior shows little wear. This generation received a display back and skeletonization of some components, in addition to being numbered in series. The dial is unmarred by time. Its exterior, only lightly worn. It comes with a full set from a well-regarded retailer, at an eye-watering yet fair ask.
Find this Tuscan 258205SP here from Xupes Watches for 500000 GBP.