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The Iconic Royal Oak sports watch hit a milestone

An irresistible watch celebrates it’s 40th anniversary

If you ask any watch enthusiast what their top 20 watches might be, chances are, they will mention the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak somewhere on that illustrious list.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Watch

And to prove how endearing this mechanical watch design has become so endearing, a star studded celebration was thrown at the Milane Triennale. Stars like Adrien Brody and Valeria Marini mingled with AC Milan football player Maxi Lopez and Formula F1 driver Jarno Trulli at this black tie gala dinner. But it would be hard to overshadow the 40 years of influence that the Royal Oak has had on luxury watchmaking:

The watch was created by the late Gérald Genta in 1972. Back then, watch creatives were called ‘stylists’ rather than designers, and Genta was – and always will be – one of the most highly regarded stylists in the profession. So much so, that when his boss at AP was pressed by Italian buyers to deliver them ‘a sports watch with a more modern image, that they could wear at the wheel of their car, on the deck of a boat but also at a disco’, Genta was set the task of designing it in just one night.

And so the world’s first luxury sports watch was created, on a scrap of paper, in just under 24 hours on the eve of the 1972 Basel watch fair. It was a risky move, because Genta designed it in steel rather than gold but with a heftier price tag. Yet the understated utilitarian design – inspired by Genta’s recollection of a diver’s helmet he’d seen as a child, bolted together with giant nuts – was so revolutionary, everyone who could afford it wanted one before everyone else. Genta had created a seriously desirable product that made the world look at watch design in a new light.

This traveling exhibition will be see world-wide from New York to Europe, then on to Beijing and Singapore.

The fact remains that the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak collection really has become an icon of watch design that is as versatile in it’s design as it is in it’s everyday uses.

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