1970s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 18K YG (Ref. 5402BA) Grey "Logo-Down" Dial
Gerald Genta is arguably the most celebrated watch designer in history... The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is arguably his most iconic design...
Unveiled in 1972, the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet was the most expensive and controversial steel watch ever produced. At the time, the pairing of the words “luxury" and "sports watch" was unprecedented. Consequentially, the Royal Oak was initially met with reluctance from the consumer, a “sports watch” that was so design-forward was foreign at that time, especially with a price tag that rivaled the most luxurious, intricate, and complicated precious metal watches of its era. But what the Royal Oak lacked in intricate functions, it made up for with creative design and innovation.
The perception of the Royal Oak shifted as people eventually caught up with the revolutionary design. So much so that it began exceeding expectations, and is now the foundation of the Audemars Piguet brand and the reason for its stratospheric success throughout history.
Gerald Genta’s original design and the very first version of the Royal Oak is the reference 5402. Also referred to as the “Jumbo” for its dimensions. With a noble size of 39mm, the original Royal Oak was considered quite large for its era. However, despite the case diameter, the case thickness was only 7mm, a measurement that is still considered thin for an automatic watch by today's standards. This feat of innovation was made possible by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Cal. 920 movement, also known as the Cal. 2121 in the Royal Oak, or the Cal. 28-255 in the Patek Philippe Nautilus, which is also arguably Gerald Genta’s most iconic design. Audemars Piguet still produces a 39mm ultra-thin version of the Royal Oak as a direct celebration of the reference 5402.
How does the saying go, “it's what’s on the outside that matters”?...
The pièce de résistance, magnum opus, and tour de force for the Royal Oak is the case, bracelet, and dial. Humor aside, vanity is the defining reason for the success of the Royal Oak, it is an unquestionably beautiful timepiece.
The Royal Oak was most notably produced in stainless steel with 6,050 units produced in total, of which the first run between 1972 and 1976 was the most collectible of the steel offerings and characteristically known for the “logo down” dials. In 1977 the Royal Oak was reintroduced and officially offered in precious metals, though with diminutive production numbers compared to steel. Only 736 units were ever produced of the 5402 in yellow gold, also known as the 5402BA, with early examples sharing the same “logo down” dial that is so desired from its older steel sibling.
|Strap||Audemars Piguet 18K YG Integrated Bracelet|
CASE & BRACELET
The beautiful, angular, and large 18K yellow gold case is very presentable and was previously restored to resemble the original factory geometry. The factory-like finishing that is displayed through the brushed-finish and polished-finish surfaces that meet at very defined edges of the case, bezel, bracelet, and case back is extremely crisp. The case does exhibit some very gentle signs of previous use. The integrated 18K yellow gold bracelet retains 20 links that show virtually no stretch and will nearly fit a 6 3/4-inch wrist.
DIAL & HANDS
The intricate and precisely executed grey "logo down" tapisserie dial is flawless, no damage or signs of age are present whatsoever. The tritium filled within the yellow gold markers has aged to an even creamy patina and shows no degradation under U.V. light inspection. The original tritium hands match the dial perfectly, under U.V. light inspection the minute hand exhibits some minor lume loss which is very common, the hour hand remains fully intact.
None. The watch is keeping accurate time, previous service history is unknown.