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.