Finds Vintage

Tropical A-Series 5402 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

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A-series; whether for history, rarity, investment, or ego, the first-ever Royal Oak run holds a special place in the heart for many enthusiasts. There can be no denying the attractiveness of the first 5402, perhaps the purest expression of Genta’s pen in steel form. Consensus holds that over the course of the A-series, about 2000 Royal Oaks were produced in total. Any one of them is immensely desirable. Far fewer of them, however, feature a dial and date wheel this characterful. Italian jewelry designer Carolina Bucci may have recently brought an iridescent dial to the ceramic 34mm ‘rainbow’ Royal Oak, but this 5402 nailed the same trick through time and a life well-lived. I dare say this one even did it better.

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You all know the story by know, designed by Genta overnight to be an ‘unprecedented’ steel watch, sold at immense premium, and constructed with an incredibly unique monobloc case. The A-Series wears its applied AP logo down at 6 rather than 12, a distinct dial treatment that has been replicated by AP since. Here’s one fact you may not know just yet about the 5402; the hexagonal screws which hold the bezel down are white gold, not steel. That small material contrast is very noticeable in the metal. The 5402 was powered by the ultra-thin calibre 2121, a JLC 920 ébauche.

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Originality and honesty are prized qualities for any watch. If, for example, a watch has a beautifully tropicalized dial but no surface wear, questions should be asked. That can happen. But not often. Originality often means matching levels of wear in all components. The beauty of this watch is not just the damage of its dial, but everything. True (not intentionally aged) tropical 5402 dials often show a darker ring around the bezel, as when the sun hits the dial UV light often doesn’t reach the inner angles. The look you see here and its unevenness are a mark of correct processes. Its case also shows wear commensurate with the dial’s age. Perhaps this is why this exact example was chosen to be published in Royal Oak: 39 The Book by Rizzoli. In sum, a beautifully honest Royal Oak ready to enjoy its next fifty years of tropical goodness on wrist.

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Having touched on condition, I will only note that despite high levels of wear, the case does not appear to have been messed with. All lines scream sharp, scream factory. The dial is a thing of immense beauty, and the tritium matches. All applications are a deep honey tone. It comes without box or papers from a well-regarded Monegasque retailer.

Find this A-Series 5402 here from Corrado Mattarelli for 165000 EUR.

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