Audemars Piguet recently unveiled their first (very large) batch of new releases for 2023, and if your Instagram feeds are anything like ours, they absolutely took over. As expected, there were plenty of new Royal Oaks on display, and in a variety of materials and platforms. We also saw an expansion of the Code 11.59 collection, including an entirely new dial motif and a metal that many collectors have been waiting for. Now that the Worn & Wound editorial team has had a chance to wade through all the new watches, we thought we’d pick our favorites among the latest novelties.
I’ll admit I have a slight soft spot for so-called ‘Jumbo’ Royal Oaks. That is, Royal Oaks that follow the original template of the 5402ST put forth back in 1972: a slim 39mm case with the “AP” at 6 o’clock where it belongs. I also have a penchant for steel sport watches (well documented in these pages) and the Royal Oak arguably opened the door for the high-end category of the genre. It’s a watch I had been enormously enamored with upon my entry to the hobby, though that enthusiasm has waned in recent years as the watch found itself on a moon-bound trajectory in the market, and an ever increasing variety of precious metal variants that, while handsome, deviate a bit too far from the simple, approachable(ish) nature of the original (for my taste, at least).
That said, the soft spot remains. When a new generation of the watch was announced last year, the 16202, in celebration of the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary, I certainly took notice (and breathed a sigh of relief) when the watch remained largely unchanged from the exterior. While I prefer the regular steel and blue dial configuration, I can’t lie and say I didn’t find this gold fume dial example quite chic (not that I’m qualified to judge what is and isn’t chic).
This year, as I sifted through the myriad of new AP releases, one in particular caught my eye as striking a nice balance between that simple original feeling, and the chic-ness that the brand has always excelled at, the white gold reference 16202BC.OO.1240BC.02 with a deep blue grain textured dial. The texture reads as an aggressive frost to my eye and it works incredibly well in this platform, and rendered in this color. The date disc has mercifully been color matched, as well. The texture plays beautifully with the shape with the Royal Oak case and bracelet and, setting aside the wonderful Starwheel recently released, this is the AP I’d be snagging of the latest batch.