An Absolute AP Masterpiece:
Reviewing the Audemars Piguet Perpetual Calendar in Yellow Gold

Article By: Logan Hannen

WATCH101 | July 09, 2019

Source: Theo & Harris

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak is, without a doubt, the watch that saved the Swiss watch industry. By releasing the first watch to ever treat stainless steel as a luxury case metal, the brand singlehandedly revitalized the Swiss and opened up a world of options when it came to brands trying to position themselves as luxury and premium.

It becomes interesting, then, when you consider that many of the most desirable modern Royal Oaks are executed in precious metal. Taking a look at this Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in yellow gold, it’s easy to see why. The Ref. 26574BA.OO.1220BA.01 is an incredible looking watch that packs a whole lot of watchmaking talent into a relatively compact package, all things considered. So let’s break the watch down and have a closer look at what makes it not only great, but a worthy member of the Royal Oak lineage.

Source: Theo & Harris

Case Diameter: 41mm
Case Thickness: 9.5mm
Case Material: 18k Yellow Gold
Strap: Integrated Matching 18k Yellow Gold Bracelet
Movement: Automatic Caliber 5134 Perpetual Calendar Movement
Dial Color: Blue Tapisserie Pattern
Price: $95,700

The watch is constructed out of 18k yellow gold in the traditional Royal Oak octagonal case shape, with a matching, integrated yellow gold bracelet. On the surface, the dial being the exception, everything about this piece is identical to every other Royal Oak (the Offshores notwithstanding). At 41mm in diameter, it’s decidedly larger than your more traditional Royal Oaks at 37mm. However, given the odd shape of the watch, it’s important to try the model on before jumping on one. The 37mm wears larger for its numerical size, so it’s fair to assume the 41mm would as well.

Source: Theo & Harris

The dial is perhaps one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Its blue Grande Tapisserie dial is a shade that’s impossible to describe, except to say that it’s some hybrid of metallic and sunburst. Each of the four subdials are guilloched out of the same base blue color. Speaking of the subdials, each of them displays a different element of the perpetual calendar movement. A perpetual calendar is a complication in which the calendar functions of a watch (in this case, the day, date, month, and typically year) need only be corrected in the event that the watch’s power reserve runs down. Otherwise, it is capable of correctly displaying all of the above calendar information “perpetually” (hence the name), taking into account different length months and leap years as well. It’s considered the highest level of calendar complication as a result, making it perfectly suited to a high level watch such as this.

Source: Theo & Harris

One of the most impressive features of the watch, though, isn’t its complication, or the ease with which this information is readable on the dial. No, it’s the fact that such an impressively complex movement manages to stay so slender that the watch is only 9.5mm thick. Though not officially “ultra-thin” by the typical horological standards, it’s still incredibly slim for its functions. Automatic winding watches, by their own nature thanks to having the house the rotor, are typically at the very least into the double digits in thickness, but here, the brand has managed to compose a watch that falls under 10mm, while housing automatic winding and a complex calendar. It is beyond impressive, and makes the watch all the more formal for it.

And formal it can be, for sure. While the Royal Oak was originally intended to be a luxury sports watch in steel, this model’s yellow gold case and bracelet, coupled with the elegant thinness, really suit the watch for, well, a suit. At the same time, with the right shorts and short sleeve oxford shirt or polo in the summer, the watch would make for a wonderful summer companion overall. Just don’t bring it near the pool, as the watch only features 20 meters of water resistance.

Source: Theo & Harris

Overall, the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in yellow gold is perhaps the epitome of modern Audemars Piguet watchmaking. While I’ve waxed poetic repeatedly about what a shame it is that the brand can hardly seem to get past the Royal Oak being their only noteworthy model, if they keep churning out examples like this one, I’m inclined not to mind all that much. Is it totally antithetical to what made the Royal Oak so important when it was introduced in the 70s? Maybe, but at the same time, it also seems perfectly on brand that the manufacturer that redefined luxury offered their own take on what luxury was perceived as way back when.