Audemars Piguet’s New Watches Of 2024

It’s that time of year. We’re all eagerly awaiting (or, in some instances, bracing for) the deluge of new releases at Watches & Wonders. But things don’t stop for the brands not participating in the show. For instance, Audemars Piguet took to Milan, Italy, this week to celebrate the opening of the brand’s new AP House Milan, located in the famed former Garage Traversi. It was also the perfect moment for the brand to introduce the first of its semi-annual major releases.
Yes, the John Mayer Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar got top billing at the announcement, but there was a lot of ground to cover. At the press preview, watches were passed around at such speed that you couldn’t do much more than get a photo or two, examine the watch, and move on to the next release passed your way a minute later. In several cases, there were innovations to unpack. I hope to get a chance to spend more time with a few of these. But instead of inundating you with multiple stories, I’ll do my best, to sum up (nearly) every release. But before we start, here’s a primer:
First, how often do you see a new suffix at the end of a reference for a new material? It was cool to type “SG” for Sand Gold for the first time. And if not for John Mayer QP, this would have been the headliner. But what is it? As representatives for the brand explained, they’re always experimenting with new materials (and studying old materials from the 1800s to see the combination of elements used to get colors like “green gold”). Pure gold is almost always combined with other materials to create stronger alloys, and the materials you use can often change the color. Pink gold has slowly taken a prominent place in their model lineup since its introduction in the mid-1980s, but this is not pink. By removing silver from the mix and replacing it with palladium, they achieved a very beige 18k gold 41mm by 10.6mm case. Then they applied that same sand gold finishing to the bridges of the caliber 2972, released in 2022 for the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary.
Without overstating it, the RD#3 in 37mm is one of the most impressive things Audemars Piguet has done in a long time. It took intense effort to create such an elegant self-winding movement with a tourbillon and place it in the iconic 39mm by 8.1mm “Jumbo” case. Then they went and shaved an extra 2mm off the width. Impressive. This new model has a smoked blue Petite Tapisserie bezel and 12 baguette-cut diamond hour markers. The white gold case (a new material perfect for gem setting) is still 8.1mm thick and has 50m of water resistance, and the bezel is set with 32 baguette-cut diamonds. This complements the 37mm RD#3 with the purple dial, but I would have loved to see an option without the diamond bezel. Diamond hour markers without diamonds on the bezel are a great low-key flex.
Here’s a great two-for-one (though don’t try to get that deal at the boutique). The brand introduced two new yellow gold models, which in some ways is par for the course for Audemars Piguet. Many other brands are still slow to get yellow gold back into their lineups after rose/pink gold took over in the early 2000s, but not AP. AP has a good spread of the material in a bunch of colors and they certainly do interesting things with texture as well. The yellow frosted gold on the 37mm Selfwinding Royal Oak is a hand-hammered texture we’ve seen used back all the way to the first Carolina Bucci edition. The 41mm RO Chronograph is a bit more straightforward, but just like the 37mm model, it has a hand-sprayed dark burst finish on the gold sunburst dial.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Royal Oak Offshore, probably because I didn’t come up in the era where they were “hot.” The Offshore Diver in “khaki” was one of the few exceptions. Funny enough, they brought this new 43mm Offshore out on a tray to tease me, and maybe that did a little extra to convince me, but this new Offshore with a rubber bezel is kind of cool. The 43mm by 14.4mm case is a bit big, and since it’s not a diver, the watch only has 100m of water resistance. But making it a non-diver, non-chronograph ROO makes it kind of uncommon. The smoked blue dial has the new generation Méga Tapisserie pattern, rhodium-toned gold applied hour-markers, Royal Oak hands with luminescent material, and a blue inner bezel (which does not rotate since, again, it’s not the diver). The exterior rubber blue bezel is reminiscent of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940 launched in 2002, the first watch to use rubber anywhere but the bracelet, and it’s fun to see it come back.
Can you believe it? Five years already. And while the collection might have been slightly (okay, more than slightly) maligned at launch, it seems to be finally hitting its stride. With the release of smaller 38mm Codes last year, plus better dial textures and indices, AP seemed to crack the – you know what, I’m not going to say it. This year, there are a few changes to the collection. First, you’ll no longer see Code 11.59 in white gold for chronographs and time-only pieces. Complications are still theoretically fair game, but we were told that steel and white gold seemed too close to each other and tended to cannibalize their own market. So expect to see more pink gold – the only gold variant the brand is doing on the Code for now.
I nearly had a heart attack during my first hands-on session. The presenter was handing around watches, and while I tried to snap photos, I heard the words: “The steel Jumbo is discontinued.” I immediately started texting coworkers, preparing for a breaking news story. Well, thirty minutes later, my dream of owning a 16202 was (somewhat) revived when I found out that it wasn’t the 16202ST that got the boot, but the 16204ST – the “Jumbo” Openworked. Instead, we have the 16204BC (white gold) to match last year’s 16204BA (and yellow gold). A reminder: “Jumbo” is 39mm by 8.1mm, not the (paradoxically) larger 41mm. It’s all about historical models for the nickname, so 39mm is Jumbo – got it?
One of the most interesting things I saw in Milan was a prototype of the AP Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Tourbillon in a camouflage ceramic case. If you didn’t already think that AP was leading the cutting edge of ceramic technology in watchmaking, I don’t think you could argue otherwise now. Technologically, it’s advanced. Aesthetically, it’s wild. Sure, I wear camo occasionally. I grew up in the Midwest and spent much time in rural areas where camo is practical for hunting. But the camo I think of is not this kind of camo. This is pure, intense, loud streetwear camo. And I love it.
I was standing there with the inimitable fellow workwear/military clothing lover Kristian Haagen when we were shown this watch, and I think you could have seen both our eyes light up. I immediately had a ton of questions. “Can you do other colors?” They pulled out a tray, including a UV reactive puck, where certain parts of the pattern glowed. “Other patterns? Could you do a duck camo on one and a tiger cam on another?” Sure, they told me, no problem. The implications are also wild when you realize that if AP is the only one doing this, it essentially could guarantee, at least for a time, that these printed watches are never replicated or faked on the secondary market. Finally, the brand teased in the press release that the technique can be done in multi-color gold, which will be shown in prototype form in the coming months. Gold camo? Bring it on.

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