The Royal Oak – the watch that applied the porthole concept to waterproof watch design and that became an enduring classic – has reached its fortieth anniversary this year. Part of the celebrations include an auction to be held in Geneva on 13 May, with over 50 rare models of the Audemars Piguet classic. An auction of this sort dedicated to the Royal Oak has never been seen before, and so it will be an important event.
Highlights include a Royal Oak A series (the 1972 watch nicknamed Jumbo), and a Skeleton Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar. In addition, the Royal Oak "End of Days" celebrates Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1999 movie.
The Royal Oak Grand Complication with 786 diamonds (shown in the photo above) is a unique piece made in 1994, a large minute-repeating, water-resistant, self-winding, 18k white gold watch with split-seconds chronograph, perpetual calendar with weeks and moon phases, and the fully diamond-set dial. Its auction price is estimated at €500,000-850,000.
A 2012 model, the Royal Oak in steel, will be present, the first piece of this model to have been made. Proceeds will go to the Audemars Piguet foundation for forest conservation. (In the photo below, the back of the Royal Oak Grand Complication).
The auction will also include some fine Patek Philippe watches, including a perpetual calendar tourbillon pocket watch, Ref. 953. This historic timepiece is one of the world's most accurate watches, as certified by daily testing records compiled from 1934 to 1954. It is in yellow gold, with Guillaume balance, perpetual calendar, 24-hour indication and phases of the moon. Its estimated price is €250,000-400,000.
Other Patek Philippes in the auction include the Heures Universelles Ref. 2523 HU, 1953, a very rare wristwatch, estimated at €400,000-580,000.
The auction will be run by Antiquorum Auctioneers and held at the Grand Hotel Kempinski, Quai du Mont Blanc 19, 1201 Geneva, tel. +41 (0)22 908 9081. The first session begins at 11 a.m., the second at 2 p.m. A preview will be held in Geneva from 10 to 12 May, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and on 13 May, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., at 3 Rue du Mont-Blanc, 1211 Geneva.