When it comes to the ever-popular category of integrated bracelet watches, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is often considered to be the grandfather of them all. Famously created by legendary watch designer Gerald Genta, the AP Royal Oak made its debut appearance back in 1972, and the model is celebrated as being the timepiece that first truly pioneered the luxury sports watch concept. The Royal Oak is universally regarded as one of the true icons from the world of horology, and it has served as the cornerstone offering in Audemars Piguet’s catalog for more than half a century. While all AP Royal Oak watches are inherently exclusive items, not all models are created equal, and here is a closer look at the top 10 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches for collectors in 2024.
1. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin 50th Anniversary ref. 16202ST.OO.1240ST.01
The classic “Jumbo” in stainless steel represents Gerald Genta’s original vision for the Royal Oak, and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin ref. 16202ST.OO.1240ST.01 is the current-production version of the model that was recently unveiled in 2022. With its 39MM stainless steel case, matching integrated bracelet, and blue “Petite Tapisserie” dial, the reference 16202ST.OO.1240ST.01 offers all of the hallmark traits of the classic Royal Oak, and it is easily one of the most recognizable and desirable luxury watches on this planet. With that in mind, only the Royal Oak watches that were produced during 2022 come fitted with custom 50th Anniversary rotors, and this small detail makes the stainless steel Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin 50th Anniversary Edition ref. 16202ST.OO.1240ST.01 one of the most collectable examples of the “Jumbo” that exists.
2. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak "Jumbo" Extra Thin Yellow Gold ref. 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02
While stainless steel is the fan-favorite configuration for the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet has also created countless different precious metal models over the years, and a solid yellow gold Royal Oak is a timeless option that also serves as a universally-recognizable statement piece. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak "Jumbo" Extra Thin ref. 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02 is the standard time-and-date model from the previous generation that takes the core design of the 39mm “Jumbo” and renders it in full 18k yellow gold. Unlike the current-production version of the yellow gold “Jumbo” that is fitted with a smoked gold dial that darkens towards its outer edge, the older reference 15202BA.OO.1240BA.02 features a traditional gold “Petite Tapisserie” dial, and it offers the classic AP Royal Oak aesthetic presented in a noticeably more flashy and luxurious overall package.
3. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold Selfwinding Chronograph Purple Dial ref. 26331BC.GG.1224BC.01
Launched in 2019 as a boutique-exclusive limited edition of 200 examples, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold Selfwinding Chronograph ref. 26331BC.GG.1224BC.01 offers a fresh and striking take on the classic Royal Oak Chronograph. Similar to the standard version of the model, the reference 26331BC.GG.1224BC.01 features a 41mm case profile, although the entirety of its case, bezel, and bracelet are all crafted from 18k white gold and given a frosted finish, which is produced by gently hammering the surfaces of the metal with a diamond-tipped tool to create tiny indentations that form a glimmering frosted appearance. Additionally, rather than receiving a traditional dial like its siblings, the AP Royal Oak ref. 26331BC.GG.1224BC.01 is fitted with a metallic purple dial with contrasting silver chronograph registers that works together with its frosted white gold case to create a unique and modern rendition of one of Audemars Piguet’s most famous models.
4. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin Pink Gold Dial ref. 15202BC.OO.1240BC.01
To the uninitiated, it may just look like a standard Royal Oak “Jumbo” that has a different colored dial, but the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin ref. 15202BC.OO.1240BC.01 is an entirely more special timepiece. Released in 2019 as a limited edition of just 75 pieces, the reference 15202BC.OO.1240BC.01 features the same 39m case profile as the classic Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin, although the entirely of its case and bracelet are crafted from solid 18k white gold. Additionally, the dial fitted to this unique limited-edition model isn’t found on any other Royal Oak watch, and the unusual combination of a pink gold dial paired with a white gold case makes the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin 15202BC.OO.1240BC.01 one of the standout pieces for collectors who want a subtle yet highly exclusive version of the iconic Royal Oak.
5. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Green Dial ref. 26534TI.OO.1220TI.01
Moving upwards in terms of both complexity and exclusivity is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon ref. 26534TI.OO.1220TI.01, which is a limited-edition release from 2021 that was produced in a quantity of just 50 examples. Like the standard Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon models, the reference 26534TI.OO.1220TI.01 features a 41mm case profile, although its case and bracelet are crafted entirely from lightweight titanium. Additionally, rather than being fitted with a standard “Grande Tapisserie” dial, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon ref. 26534TI.OO.1220TI.01 receives a striking metallic green dial with its “Evolutive Tapisserie” guilloche pattern radiating outwards from the flying tourbillon that occupies the lower half of its display.
6. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Blue Ceramic ref. 26579CS.OO.1225CS.01
Any Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is a serious heavy-hitter timepiece, and within this hierarchy of already highly exclusive models, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26579CS.OO.1225CS.01 sits right near the very top. Launched in 2022 as the first Audemars Piguet watch to ever feature a case and bracelet crafted from blue ceramic, the reference 26579CS.OO.1225CS.01 offers a highly modern and vibrant expression of one of the brand’s most premium models. Featuring the same 41mm case as other Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar watches, the blue ceramic used for the entirety of the external components on the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar ref. 26579CS.OO.1225CS.01 creates a significantly different visual impact compared to other ceramic Royal Oak models, making this bright blue execution even more exclusive than its white or black ceramic siblings.
7. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked Rainbow Bezel Frosted White Gold ref. 15412BC.YG.1224BC.03
Audemars Piguet has been known to create various versions of the Royal Oak that feature bezels set with rainbow-colored gemstones, and while you will find examples in all three shades of gold, the frosted 18k white gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked ref. 15412BC.YG.1224BC.03 is easily one of the standout models. Adorned by a rainbow gradient of gems on its bezel and a shimmering frosted finish across its white gold components, the reference 15412BC.YG.1224BC.03 features a 41mm case that houses a skeletonized automatic movement with two separate balance assemblies mounted on the same axis. This dual-balance approach offers greater stability and allows the movement to be finely tuned for superior precision, while the luxurious frosted white gold case serves as the perfect backdrop for this model’s vibrant rainbow bezel.
8. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked Baguette Diamond ref. 15417OR.ZZ.1267OR.01.A
As one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious luxury watch manufacturers, Audemars Piguet is hardly a stranger when it comes to producing incredibly lavish gem-set timepieces, and arguably no model offers more diamonds than the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked ref. 15417OR.ZZ.1267OR.01.A. Based upon the 41mm rose gold version of the skeletonized Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel, the reference 15417OR.ZZ.1267OR.01.A is fully encrusted in 436 baguette-cut diamonds. Not only are diamonds set into the bezel, case, and bracelet of the watch, but even the winding crown and center links are completely covered in baguette diamonds, and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked Baguette Diamond ref. 15417OR.ZZ.1267OR.01.A is a model that truly blurs the lines between a wristwatch and a piece of jewelry.
9. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Grand Complications Perpetual Calendar Black Ceramic ref. 26605CE.00.1248CE.98
While the original Royal Oak was created as a simple time-and-date watch, Audemars Piguet has incorporated a vast assortment of different complications into the collection throughout the years. Representing the absolute most technologically complex rendition of Gerald Genta’s legendary design is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Grand Complications Perpetual Calendar ref. 26605CE.00.1248CE.98, which features three of horology’s most prestigious complications, along with a 44mm case and bracelet that are crafted from black ceramic. Powered by the 648-component Caliber 2885 movement, the reference 26605CE.00.1248CE.98 earns its “Grand Complications” moniker by offering a split-seconds chronograph, perpetual calendar, and minute repeater, which makes it is the most feature-packed version of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak that exists.
10. Vintage Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” ref. 5402ST
No list of the top Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches could be complete without including the original stainless steel “Jumbo” from the 1970s. While modern Royal Oak models offer superior in-house movements and a noticeably more premium feel on the wrist, the classic reference 5402ST is the watch that started it all, and it will therefore always be one of the most collectible Royal Oak models. Featuring a 39mm stainless steel case with a matching bracelet and a simple time-and date display, the ref. 5402ST is the quintessential example of the timeless Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and it is a true must-have model for any collector who has their heart set on owning a vintage example of this horological icon.