Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Switzerland, 1969. The quartz crisis was in full swing. Audemars Piguet, facing financial troubles, asked Gérald Genta to design a new watch. The managing director did not have many requirements. The watch had to be:
- From steel;
- And oh yeah, the design had to be finished the following morning!
That night, Mr. Genta was drawing designs as if his life depended on it. Little did he knew that during that particular night the watch that he had drawn, would become one of his most iconic creations. He got inspired by an old-fashioned divers helmet; the octagonal steel case, the screws in the bezel and the tapestry motive in the dial gave the watch this unique, industrial look. The well-known name came from a battleship from the British Royal Navy. A work of art was born!
However, it was not a success from the start. The watch was back then, in ’72, considered as too big (39 mm) and too expensive (3,300 Swiss francs). It received fierce criticism and the watch was considered out of place. Nevertheless, the quality and charm could not be denied by collectors and trendsetters. One year later, after AP had sold 1000 pieces, sales truly took off and the AP Royal Oak became – as Genta himself said – a masterpiece.