Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon 25831PT 'Salmon'

Museum Piece
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak In 1970, Audemars Piguet instructed Genta to come up with an unprecedented steel watch.
The Royal Oak’s 50th birthday in 2022 is the perfect occasion to take a trip down memory lane to its 25th anniversary in 1997.

While the Royal Oak was already beginning to be viewed as a design icon in 1997, it hadn’t yet entered the rarefied category of truly legendary watches. To mark the occasion, Audemars Piguet quietly released an extremely limited and truly exceptional line-up of watches.

The thing that makes the ref. 25831 so special is that it was the first ever Royal Oak to incorporate a tourbillon complication. The tourbillon was invented by master watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795. By suspending the escapement and balance wheel—the central parts of a mechanical watch movement—in a rotating cage, this ingenious mechanism can dramatically reduce the effects of gravity and thus improve the accuracy of a watch. Today, the tourbillon mechanism is considered one of the ultimate tests of a watchmaker’s technical prowess and superior finishing techniques.

The ref. 25831 was produced in an extremely limited series of 25 watches in various metals and dial configurations. This particular watch is one of just five platinum pieces with a salmon dial. The watch features the iconic 39 mm octagonal case and integrated bracelet designed by the legendary Gerald Genta, but executed in luxurious 950 platinum. The case has a peculiar, yet mesmerizing, symmetrical design to the inclusion of a hidden crown on the caseback.

The exquisite salmon dial features Audemars Piguet’s iconic ‘Petite Tapisserie’ engraved pattern. The time can be read on a charming miniature dial at the 12 o’clock position, while two smaller sub-registers at 3 and 9 display the date and power reserve functions. A large cutout at the 6 o’clock position reveals the central part of the watch: the tourbillon cage, itself creatively surrounded by a miniature Royal Oak bezel.

This superlative and ultra-collectible ref. 25831 is in exquisite, near mint, condition.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

In 1970, Audemars Piguet instructed Genta to come up with an unprecedented steel watch. As the story goes, he found inspiration whilst seeing a diver at work with an old-fashioned diver’s helmet near Lake Geneva. Staying up all night, Genta drew the design for a circular case with an angular, octagonal bezel, eight visible screws, and an integrated bracelet. The Royal Oak was presented in 1972 as the most expensive steel watch available and it caused an uproar: why was a distinguished maison d’horlogerie putting out a sports watch, let alone in such a pedestrian material? Some experts even predicted that the Royal Oak would put Audemars Piguet out of business. Though it took a while to catch on, the Royal Oak is now one of the most iconic and long-lasting watch designs and has spawned an entire product line. It wouldn’t be the first time that Genta would prove a brand’s owners, customers, and industry experts wrong.