1972 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (Ref. 5402ST) "A Series"
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 "Gay Freres" Stainless Steel Integrated Bracelet|
The large and beautifully angular stainless steel case shows gentle signs of use and retains excellent factory finishing and chamfers, the case does appear to be very lightly polished in its past. The octangular bezel shows signs of being gently polished as well but retains excellent factory dimensions and angles throughout. The case retains its original unsigned crown. The case back retains all of its original factory markings and engravings in deep and crisp condition. The original integrated stainless steel Gay Freres-designed bracelet retains its original "Audemars Piguet" clasp which also features a 4/72 date code. The bracelet retains 19 links that show almost no stretch and will fit up to a 6 3/4-inch wrist.
The original, rare, and truly beautiful Type 1 “Logo Down” dial is exceptionally well-preserved, remaining in virtually flawless condition with only microscopic elements of age at the very edge of the dial that are only nominal in nature. The iconic tapisserie texture is both intricate and precisely executed. The AP logo above the 6 o’clock marker shows a slight discoloration from age but is otherwise flawless. The tritium lume plots have taken on a handsome golden patina and exhibit no degradation when inspected under U.V. light. The hands are later OEM service units that contain luminova lume, this is common for A series 5402s as the original hands were very delicate from the factory. The date wheel displays gentle aging in the text.
None. The watch is keeping time, backed by a 1-year warranty on accurate timekeeping.