6005ST Audemars Piguet Rectangular Royal Oak
To some, this is one of the most blasphemous watches to come out of Le Brassus. It wears the name Royal Oak, but wasn’t designed by Genta. It’s not even a mechanical watch, no, it hails from the height of quartz. The ref. 6005 Rectangular Royal Oak is part uncanny valley, part Porsche SUV (something which many said shouldn’t exist but supports the brand fiscally), a whole lot of experimental 80s, and is one of the rare occasions where AP really threw caution to the wind. We still see some of the three ‘holy trinity’ watchmakers bending to the whim of client demand these days and chasing trends, but nothing like as directly as they did peak quartz crisis, when the only that was going to save the Royal Oak name from extinction was this.
Niche iterations of well-known integrated steel sport watches are a fun place to spend an evening. Patek have the 3770 Nautellipse and Vacheron have the Square 222. AP, this the their bag. The Rectangular Royal Oak came into being in the very late 70s. It was not intended to be timeless, but meet market demand. Everyone wanted thin, everyone wanted quartz, and a whole lot of people were buying rectangular or square watches. Management ordered, top down, that AP would create a watch to bring the Royal Oak (even if in name only) to this new era. It shares the same bracelet style, petite tapisserie, and name, but that’s about it. You can tell it’s a Royal Oak even without the bracelet, but you have to stare at it awhile.
This is the rarer jumbo, a 32x41mm case that truly is ultra-thin thanks to an avant-garde calibre 2511. Two interesting points on this movement. First, adjustments made via winding the crown effect only the hour hand. The minute track is adjusted via a diminutive inverted pusher in the center of the crown. Secondly, the high accuracy AP aimed for necessitated large power demands and so AP derived a mercury-storage battery system. When it was discovered that this was . . .let’s say less-than-ideal for health, service centers were instructed to use a more standard new replacement battery. As a result, modern battery life in these is less than 12 months operation. But what a twelve months those will be on wrist. What the 6005 did do was carry the Royal Oak name to an uncertain future. It’s not just an historic detour from the 80s, but a watch that really did keep the flame alive through choppy waters. I’m not sure it’s ever looked better. Contributors on WatchPro are probably burning my effigy as we speak.
This example has a great case with full bevels, strong edges. Its dial is very lightly tropical, parts of the grey are just going brown. Its handset has the slightest bit of oxidation. The movement is said to have been just serviced and running well. It comes from a well-regarded Dutch retailer.
Find this 6005ST here from Bulang & Sons for 21000 EUR.
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