Hands-On with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin in Titanium and Platinum

The ref. 15202IP with a smoked dial.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ti platinum 15202IP 3

Introduced as a 150-piece limited edition on Monday of SIHH, the titanium and platinum Royal Oak was such a hit it grew into a 250-piece run by Friday. The reason for its success is simple: it’s an appealing twist on the quintessential Royal Oak, the model that’s closest to Gerald Genta’s original of 1972.

The combination of titanium and platinum – more titanium and less platinum – is not a new one, with AP having added platinum accents to various Royal Oak models in the 1990s and early 2000s, most prominently with the Royal Oak perpetual calendar. And just last year the face-lifted Royal Oak Chronograph was executed in the same two metals. But the combination has never been applied to the classic, 39mm Royal Oak “Jumbo”, arguably the one to have and typically only available in steel, rose or yellow gold.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ti platinum 15202IP 5

AP has upgraded the clasp on the modern day “Jumbo” to a sturdy double-fold, but that leaves the clasp feeling thick relative to the case.

The platinum bits, namely the bezel and twin centre links of the bracelet, are distinguished with their mirror polished surface (which is what AP has always done to set platinum apart from other alloys in bi-metal watches). The shiny parts catch the lights nicely, though are obviously prone to scratches and fingerprints. After a day of being passed around at SIHH, the sample watch already showed the faintest of scuffs on the bezel.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ti platinum 15202IP 2

An intriguing solution would be to brush the bezel and give it a finish identical to that found on ordinary steel Royal Oaks. That appears to have been done in the past, with older models having appeared on the secondary market with bezels brushed by AP itself.

Though the case is titanium, the surface finishing is practically indistinguishable from that of the steel Royal Oak, which is to say it is done to an exceptionally high standard. The alternating brushed and polished surfaces are just magnificent.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ti platinum 15202IP 4

The fact that the case is mostly titanium gives it lightness, though the disparity between this and the steel model is not pronounced, since the steel version is relatively thin and light to begin with.

The dial is equally unusual, having a graduated finish that AP labels “smoked”, and which other brands might term dégrade or fumé. It’s blue in the centre and darkens outwards, with the edges being almost black. The blue isn’t quite the same grey-blue as on the classic Royal Oak Extra-Thin, being slightly brighter.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ti platinum 15202IP 1

While the colour is different, the texture remains the same. It’s finished with the Royal Oak’s classic chequerboard tapisserie guilloche, which is still done manually on a rose engine (some AP insiders will admit that not all Royal Oak dials are engraved the old fashioned way).

Inside is the cal. 2121, the long in tooth but solid automatic calibre that was first introduced as the Jaeger-LeCoultre cal. 920 in 1967. It was found in the original Royal Oak (as well as the original Nautilus ref. 3700), but is now produced by AP in-house, having had modest upgrades over the years. Because of its slimness, just 3.05mm high, the cal. 2121 is more challenging to put together, which is why it’s assembled at AP complications subsidiary Renaud & Papi, instead of together with AP’s other simple movements at the watchmaker’s main factory.

Fine as it is, the cal. 2121 still suffers from a crucial weakness, which is the lack of a quickset date. That aside, the cal. 2121 is still one of the finest self-winding calibres on the market in terms of sophistication and slimness.

Price and availability 

Available only at Audemars Piguet boutiques, the Royal Oak Extra-Thin in titanium and platinum (ref. 15202IP.OO.1240IP.01) is priced at US$34,800, or S$48,800. Deliveries have already begun, albeit at a slow pace, so expect the entire run to be spread out over most of the year.


 

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