Audemars Piguet’s opening act of the year is straightforward but significant: the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202.
Created to mark the 50th anniversary of its quintessential octagonal watch, the new “Jumbo” is arguably the first truly new version of the original Royal Oak, as it contains a latest-generation movement. the cal. 7121 replaces the cal. 2120/2121 that’s been in service since 1972.
Naturally the ref. 16202 makes it debut in the quintessential combination of a blue-grey dial and steel case. And the line up also includes three precious metal versions that are arguably more striking (and certainly more expensive).
With the retirement of the ref. 15202 announced last year, an all-new Royal Oak “Jumbo” became inevitable. And the fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of the model makes it even more so.
It happened and fortunately, the new “Jumbo” lives up to expectations. It’s still very much the same – the case dimensions remains unchanged – but revamped just enough to it a substantively new watch in technical terms.
And then there are the gorgeous smoked dial finishes, which set it apart from past models and make it the “Jumbo” of the 21st century.
The highlight of the ref. 16202 is the cal. 7121. Still ultra thin like its predecessor, the cal. 7121 boasts a modern construction that promises superior timekeeping over a longer period as well as better robustness.
It also incorporates several interesting technical and visual details. Most importantly, the cal. 7121 includes a quickset date mechanism, eliminating a major inconvenience of the original.
This brings us to the price of the ref. 16202, which is increased over that of the ref. 15202 from between 15% to 35%, depending on the metal.
The new Jumbos do cost a lot more, but the improved movement makes it worth it. That said, the retail prices of ultra-desirable sports watches like the “Jumbo” are a moot point, since demand so far outstrips supply.
Put simply, the ref. 16202 changes only where it should, so it’s still reassuringly familiar.
In fact, its size is identical to that of the outgoing ref. 15202, despite the new cal. 7121 that’s slightly thicker at 3.2 mm, as compared to the 3.05 mm of the cal. 2121.
Similarly, the dial retains the classic petite tapisserie guilloche that’s synonymous with the Royal Oak. But because of the new calibre, the date is now positioned closer to the edge of the dial.
Importantly, the dial of the steel model is executed in the Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 (“night blue, cloud 50”) colour as the 1972 original, but the finish is obtained with a modern deposition technique instead of a galvanic bath.
Each of the gold versions have smoked dials to go with the case metal, once again in the petite tapisserie pattern. The only exception is the platinum version, which has a radially-brushed dial with a smoked green finish – exactly the same dial as found on the platinum ref. 15202 launched last year (and now discontinued).
The new movement does incorporate several compelling details, from both aesthetic and technical perspectives. Besides the quickset date, another convenience is the power reserve, which is now 55 hours, up from 40 in the original.
Some of the improvements are entirely evident from the back. The full balance bridge, for instance, brings with it better shock resistance, but it is complemented by a nearly identical identical barrel bridge for visual symmetry – an uncommon feat in an ultra-thin movement where height often trumps style.
And the movement finish has also been made more contemporary, which means the calibre loses some of the old-school details found on the cal. 2121. The cal. 7121, for instance, has fewer rounded, polished bevels on its bridges.
While the modern architecture is attractive, the simplified finishing is less attractive but inevitable in a modern calibre conceived to be optimised for production on a largish scale.
Key facts and price
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin 39 mm
Ref. 16202ST.OO.1240ST.01 (steel)
Ref. 16202OR.OO.1240OR.01 (pink gold)
Ref. 16202BA.OO.1240BA.01 (yellow gold)
Ref. 16202PT.OO.1240PT.01 (platinum)
Diameter: 39 mm
Height: 8.1 mm
Material: Steel, 18k yellow gold, 18k pink gold, or platinum
Water-resistance: 50 m
Movement: Cal. 7121
Functions: Hours, minutes, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 55 hours
Strap: Matching bracelet
Limited edition: No
Availability: At all boutiques but only at AP Houses for the platinum version
Steel – US$33,200, or 47,900 Singapore dollars
Pink gold and yellow gold – US$70,500, or 101,800 Singapore dollars
Platinum – US dollar price unavailable: 164,700 Singapore dollars
For more, visit audemarspiguet.com.
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