It has been 50 years since Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet revealed the first Royal Oak timepiece at Baselworld. Created by the designer Gérald Genta, the original stainless steel Royal Oak immediately caused a stir across the horology world courtesy of its memorable silhouette. Inspired by traditional diving helmets, this original and groundbreaking design turned heads at the time.

Audemars Piguet
Celebrating 50 years of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Image: Audemars Piguet.

The Royal Oak collection has since become synonymous with the spirit of innovation, encouraged by clever use of materials and attention to details throughout its incarnations, from the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar to the refined, classic simplicity of the 41mm Selfwinding creations. Few other timepieces can boast the kind of reputation that the Royal Oak has generated for itself. Fans of the watch hail its versatility – it’s the watch that can be seen trackside at motorsports; on a yacht; at a late night bar or simply by the pool courtesy of a continuous evolution of details that make the Royal Oak simultaneously classic yet utterly modern.

Audemars Piguet
Classic, iconic style that suits all occasions. Image: Audemars Piguet.

To celebrate the landmark 50th anniversary of the timepiece that transformed the face of watchmaking – literally – Audemars Piguet has a new collection of Novelties, an anniversary line of timepieces that carry that same craftsmanship and dedication to innovation as the very first Royal Oak did back in ’72. Marking the occasion, many of these new creations will also come with a dedicated Royal Oak “50 years” oscillating weight.

One of the styles ICON is most excited by is their first ever Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin that features the new ultra-thin Calibre 2968, which is smaller and flatter than the usual 2950. This marks the first time that a flying tourbillon will be placed inside a Jumbo case. To achieve this, the team at Audemars Piguet were required to reimagine the complication in order for it to be housed within the smaller case. To achieve a more a clearer view into the watch’s heart, the geometry and positioning of the balance wheel arms have also been revised. In additional attention to detail, case and bracelet have been hand finished in alternating satin finishing and polishing to create a contrast that is emblematic of the Audemars Piguet brand.

Royal Oak
Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin. Image: Audemars Piguet.

A bolder statement, one that matches the gravitas of 50 years years, is the Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm with Khaki Green Dial. An 18-carat pink gold bracelet and case are perfectly contrasted with a green face featuring a Grande Tapisserie pattern. In continuation with the case, hour markers and hands are matching pink gold. The Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm Khaki Green Dial will also be one of the timepieces that will include the “50 Years” oscillating weight.

Royal Oak
Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm with Khaki Green Dial. Image: Audemars Piguet

But heritage, as much as innovation, remains a core part of that Royal Oak DNA. Continuing on the tradition of the original watch are a new generation of Jumbo Extra-Thin timepieces that will house the manufacturer’s new selfwinding extra-thin movement, a Calibre 7121. Available in various finishes, including yellow gold, pink gold, platinum and of course – stainless steel, a tribute to the original Royal Oak that was first launched in 1972.

Subtle changes to core design have also been introduced for the 50th anniversary, including enlarged bevels at top and bottom of the case to enhance the play of light. The caseback has also been adjusted, now being slightly more integrated into the case and links on the bracelet are now thinner, for more ergonomic and comfortable wearing experience.

Today, five decades since it changed the nature of watch design, the mythology of the Royal Oak is almost as potent as the watch itself. Transcending cultural genres – Ed Sheeran, Kendall Jenner and Jay-Z are all known fans – the question of how and when to wear one is moot. The better one would be: what could be better than wearing a Royal Oak?