Would you believe it’s been 50 years since Gerald Genta and Audemars Piguet gave the world the Royal Oak? Sure, it’s a staple timepiece amongst well-heeled collectors, but to this day it still feels like one of the most modern, mould-shattering watch designs around. AP themselves haven’t missed the anniversary and have ushered in a new (some might say overdue) generation of Jumbo, the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin Ref. 16202.
The four new models in the collection pay obvious homage to the original Jumbo of 1972, which means the same ‘oversized’ (for the era, at least) 39mm case with its incredible octagonal bezel and distinctive industrial finishing. These are the pieces that collectors still go crazy for whenever AP deigns to release one, and the stainless steel version here will stir up a storm.
The most faithful to the original, the mix of stainless steel case and “Petite Tapisserie” blue dial is iconic without a hint of hyperbole. The ‘bleu nuit’ is actually a couple of shades darker than its 1972 equivalent but otherwise it’s a direct descendent. Good luck getting hold of one.
The other three versions are all in precious metals. You have rose gold with a fume grey dial in the same “Petite Tapisserie”, a pretty standard colourway for AP these days. More interestingly, the yellow gold version comes with a fume gold dial and is probably my favourite of the lot. Yes, yes, a gold Royal Oak just isn’t right from a luxury sports watch perspective, but the look of the thing is downright magnificent.
Then there’s the platinum version, which eschews the collection’s signature “Petite Tapisserie” in favour of a smoked green sunburst number. The smooth finish stands out from the rest and, green being the zeitgeisty colour of the year, it follows in a long line of platinum limited editions, though this time in the core collection.
Refreshing as the new variations are, the more important honing of the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202 comes inside with the new Calibre 7121. This is the first time in 50 years the Jumbo’s seen a mechanical update, replacing the much older calibre 2121, now put out to pasture, I assume, on a Le Brassus farm.
The new movement is actually slightly thicker than the older version, 3.2mm vs 3.05, but it does have a suite of performance boosts. It has a larger, 55-hour power reserve, a bi-directional rotor for more efficient automatic winding and a patented extra-thin, low-energy quick change date-setting mechanism. All of that and it fits perfectly into the original Jumbo profile so you can’t tell it’s larger from the outside. Unless of course you look at the back; the big 50th anniversary rotor isn’t exactly subtle.
It’s worth pointing out that along with the rest of the finishing on the movement, the rotor has been case matched, something AP don’t often do in time-only pieces. It’s a very special occasion.
As I briefly touched on previously, these are not limited-edition watches, which on paper sounds like a fantastic opportunity to get hold of a watch like this. Remember though, these are still Jumbos and, limited or not, getting hold of one will require some serious schmoozing of your local retailer or a lottery win. Good luck with that; don’t expect me to share my lucky numbers.
Price & Specs:
Model: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin Ref. 16202
Reference: 16202ST.OO.1240ST.01 (stainless steel case, Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50” dial with “Petite Tapisserie” pattern)
16202OR.OO.1240OR.01 (18K pink gold case, smoked grey dial with “Petite Tapisserie” pattern)
16202BA.OO.1240BA.01 (18K yellow gold case, smoked yellow-gold-toned dial with “Petite Tapisserie” pattern)
16202PT.OO.1240PT.01 (platinum case, smoked green with sunburst base)
Case/dial: 39mm diameter x 8.1mm height, stainless steel, pink gold, yellow gold or platinum case case, blue, grey, yellow-gold dial with “Petite Tapisserie” pattern or green sunburst pattered dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: In-house Calibre 7121, automatic, 33 jewels, 268 parts
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 55h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Strap: Stainless steel, 18K pink gold, 18K yellow gold or platinum bracelet
Price/availability: £27,900 (stainless steel), £59,400 (18K pink gold and 18K yellow gold) and price on request (platinum)
More details at Audemars Piguet.