To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak collection, Audemars Piguet has released a whole lineup of new watches. The new Royal Oak models span dozens of different reference numbers and include everything from chronographs and mid-size versions to an openworked flying tourbillon. However, probably the single most discussed new release is the reference 16202 “Jumbo” (particularly the stainless steel model), which replaced the fan-favorite ref. 15202 that had been part of the catalog for more than two decades.
Just like the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was designed by Gerald Genta during the 1970s, and the model now represents one of the most iconic and desirable luxury timepieces in the entire world. The levels of hype that surround the Royal Oak is legitimately the stuff of legends; however, given the similarities between the new model and its predecessor - and given that the previous reference was already entirely unavailable at a retail level - does it really matter that there is a new AP Royal Oak Jumbo?
The New AP Jumbo Looks the Same as the Old One
Before we even get to the issue of the watch’s availability, let’s first take a look at what you are actually getting with the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” ref. 16202. Internally, there is a new movement, which offers both a longer power reserve and (crucially) a quickset date. Additionally, very minor updates have been done to the dial but it is still immediately identifiable as the Royal Oak’s signature design and is largely identical to the version that has existed for the last decade.
Despite the new movement (which is slightly bigger than the one found inside its predecessor), the exterior dimensions of the new AP Royal Oak 16202 remain the same. Although this is certainly impressive from a technical standpoint, this means that the new Royal Oak Jumbo will wear pretty much the exact same as before. Personally, I think this is a good thing since the outgoing model is a fantastic watch; however, I highly doubt anyone will be ditching their ref. 15202 so that they can buy the new version.
The Royal Oak is truly a special timepiece and Audemars Piguet knows that it cannot alter its core design too dramatically. From a movement standpoint, the new Royal Oak Jumbo is definitely superior, but given that it largely resembles its predecessor, is the new Royal Oak 16202 actually as important as the hype makes it seem?
You Still Won’t Be Able to Buy One at Retail
Unless you have a VERY good relationship with your local Audemars Piguet boutique, you simply aren’t buying a Royal Oak Jumbo at retail without spending at least several years on a waiting list. Just like the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711, you can always pay a six-figure price to skip the line and pick up an AP Jumbo on the secondary market. However many people aren’t in a position to buy a $33,200 watch (the actual retail price of a stainless steel ref. 16202), let alone the six-figure sum that it will take to secure one from a gray market dealer.
Given that the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo is exclusive to the point of being near-unobtainium, its relevance in most people’s life is actually relatively minimal. Additionally, since the reference 16202 is the standard time-and-date model, there isn’t quite the same level of intrigue that exists among more complex versions like the new openworked tourbillon. It is undeniably a fantastic watch and every aspect of it is beautifully executed, but given that it looks near-identical to its predecessor and you still won’t be able to buy one at retail, how much else is there to discuss?
The Royal Oak could almost be considered a victim of its own success; the core design is so complete that it cannot be significantly altered or evolved without losing some of its identity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m personally a huge fan of the AP Royal Oak and I recognize the importance of having a new generation of Jumbo watches. However, regardless of how much I’d absolutely love to own one, I simply can’t consider the new Royal Oak Jumbo to be all that interesting of a new release.
*All images courtesy of Audemars Piguet.