I’ve a Royal Oak-owning friend who’s convinced that any complications and distortions added to Gerald Genta’s masterpiece are a defilement of one of the purest new Audemars Piguet replica watches designs of all. He poo-poos the chronograph (pushers on a Royal Oak case? Sacrilege!), disregards the dual time, gets the vapours when it comes to skeletonised versions, and will just about foam at the mouth at the mere mention of the word “Offshore”. But the one significant complication he has confided he will tolerate – and, in fact, lust after deeply – is the perpetual calendar. Somehow, even for the most hardline of Royal Oak purists, the version just works from a formal design perspective – and does so particularly well in its newest incarnation. Allow me to introduce you to Audemars Piguet reference 26574.
In a way, the Perpetual Calendar version of the Royal Oak has become a collector sub-genre in its own right. First introduced in 1978, it was then the world’s thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar wrist replica watches, and contributed to the establishment of the Royal Oak in the consciousness of serious watch connoisseurs in the midst of the Quartz Crisis. It was a considerable technical feat, too, with a movement in which a perpetual calendar module was attached to the groundbreaking ultra-thin calibre 2120, first introduced in 1967 and still a perennial of AP watchmaking today.
But it was important also because it combined Audemars Piguet’s – and Switzerland’s – most forward-thinking design with replica Breitling one of its most celebrated classical complications, a particular specialism of the company’s from its very early days (AP was responsible, in the mid-1950s, for introducing the leap year indication).
It shouldn’t have worked in the Replica Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, but it did. There’s a particular harmony and balance to the way the four calendar subdials – with month and leap year at 12 o’clock, date at 3 o’clock, moon phase at 6 o’clock and weekday at 9 o’clock – are framed by the angles of the octagonal bezel. As soon as this is disrupted, for instance in the less loved Equation of Time version, with outsized subdials at 12 and 6, it loses its poise. In the case of the new 26574, the mixture of tradition and modernism is beguiling.
Compared to previous Royal Oak perpetual calendars – the classic of the form being the 25820 – this has some significant changes. It’s been upsized to 41mm, a fact that will displease some including my Royal Oak hardliner pal, but I suspect a lot of AP’s collector base will appreciate that little bit of extra wrist presence for such a heavyweight of a fake Cartier watches. The upsizing has allowed room for an additional indication on the dial: a week-of-the-year register shown on the flange encircling the dial, indicated by an extra hand from the centre (there’s no running seconds on this watch). You also get a “Grande Tapisserie” dial, as on other larger Royal Oak models.
There are four versions of the watch: in stainless steel or rose gold, each with dials either in white or tremendously vibrant blue. There’s no question that with its larger size, fancy detailing and wonderful finishing, this is a Rolex replica watches sale that shouts its quality rather than whispering it. My friend, I suspect, will continue hunting for older, quieter 27820 models. But this is one of the most magnificent perpetuals available on the market right now, no question.
Replica Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar: The Essentials
Material: Rose gold or stainless steel
Calibre: In-house automatic Cal.5134 perpetual calendar
Size: 41mm wide; 9.5mm thick
Price: £48,100 (steel) – £72,900 (gold) www.leighit.co.uk