Golay asked him to design a stylish sports watch for all occasions, but one with a design and finish never seen before. The following morning Genta had finished his design that was to become the Royal Oak.

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Audemars Piguet
Royal Oak Stainless Steel - 5402ST 5402ST

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To understand the Royal Oak 5402ST, we must first understand the watch market at the time it was released. In the early 1970’s, the Swiss watch industry was in crisis, with quartz watches becoming ever more accessible and more accurate than mechanical watches of that period. Georges Golay, Audemars Piguet’s CEO at the time, knew something drastic was needed to shake up the market, so on the eve of the Basel Fair in 1971 Golay made a call to Gerald Genta. The most famous watch designer at the time, Genta was responsible for creating the Omega constellation and the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse (the Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700 would not be introduced until 1976). Golay asked him to design a stylish sports watch for all occasions, but one with a design and finish never seen before. The following morning Genta had finished his design that was to become the Royal Oak.

Twelve months later, at the 1972 Basel Fair, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402ST was released, shocking and captivating the industry in equal measure. The initial production run (now known as the” A batch”) was made up of 1000 pieces and had an eye-watering price tag of 3,300CHF. This was more than ten times the price of a Rolex Submariner and more than a gold Patek Philippe dress watch. A precedent had been set. No longer did a manufacturer need to rely on precious metals alone to justify the quality or cost of a watch. A watch must now have precision, design and above all else, quality in execution. The 5402ST was not as well received as Audemars Piguet first hoped, and took over a year to sell the first 1000 pieces. After the first 1000 sold, another 1000 were made under the A serial, before the being moved to B and C.

We are delighted to offer this extremely collectable 5402ST Royal Oak as part of our Hard to Find collection. The watch dial shows natural signs of ageing with a pleasing patina on the hands and markers. The case is also in very good condition showing only light signs of wear, with the case edges still being sharp. The case back is stamped from manufacturer B290** making this is a B serial 5402ST, recognisable by the AP logo at 12 o'clock on the dial, rather than 6 o'clock position seen on the first batch of ‘A’ Serials. This Royal Oak 5402ST comes with a Certificat D’Origine from Audemars Piguet displaying all of the information from the original certificate of sale dated 31st May 1982.

The Royal Oak 5402ST was the first watch to have the now iconic octagonal case with eight visible hexagonal screws, inspired by a traditional divers helmet. The 39mm case size was considered large for the time and now carries the nickname ‘jumbo’ because of this.
Unlike the prototype models that were made in white gold and the later editions to that range in yellow gold, the 5402ST is made from stainless steel. The case has a depth of 7mm and houses the 2121 calibre movement that measures an impressive 3.05mm in depth. The 2121 self-winding calibre was funded, designed and manufactured in a collaboration with Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger LeCoultre and Patek Philippe and contains an anti-shock system perfectly suited for a daily wearing watch.

Overall, this piece is in very good condition with the correct provenance and represents a fantastic opportunity to own a truly iconic watch that kickstarted the luxury sports movement.


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