Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15300 (Calibre 3120)
Story & Photos by Harry SK Tan   -  9th August 2005


 

The Sublime*

I had been an admirer of the Royal Oak for some years but it never really rank high on my want list until recently. Some months ago I posted on Watchrap about suggestions for an everyday watch. A very kind Gentleman, Mr Valentin Blank wrote to me direct and suggested with great persuasion the RO Jumbo. I did follow up on his suggestion and went about looking for one at the authorised retailers here. The stores here had only the darker coloured dials while I preferred the white. I did more research and discovered a lot more about it. While I was beginning to seriously consider the Jumbo, there were many other daily beater watches that started to call out to me as well. The Vacheron Overseas Automatic and the IWC Ingenuier are just but two very nice watches of many shortlisted and researched.

Until one day someone mentioned to me of the newly launched RO 15300 and the Calibre 3120 movement. When I found scans of the watch, I was very pleased to find out how close it is to the RO in terms of its look. But when I found out that the Cal 3120 and bracelet is completely brand new I was thrilled. So I went about looking around for one here in Singapore. I was hopeful but doubted its availability. When my regular luxury watch retailer informed me that one of the other branches had a piece, I jumped at it. They had only one piece - a white dial (which is my preferred dial in any case in this model).

On the morning of 9th August 2005 - Singapore's 40th Year of Independence - I went to HourGlass to inspect the watch. In the short years of having collected watches, I have learnt not to raise one's expectations too high as the probability of disappointment can be high. Even though I was very excited about the watch, I resolved not to make an impulse buy but to walk away to consider closely all things before completing the deal.

So what happened? Well, when the wonderfully gracious the Asst Manager took out the watch and showed it to me - it seemed that time and sounds came to a standstill for a moment. Somebody was talking but my ears wasnít listening. My attention was completely focused on something that just stunned me. The RO15300. Why is it stunning? A very rare characteristic. Sublime simplicity.

After the heady early rush of excitement, I made a closer inspection of the RO. It was obvious that the bracelet is somewhat thicker than the RO Jumbo. It looked a lot larger than its declared 39mm. In fact it looked like a 42 mm when compared to my Explorer II. But the illusion is due to the design of the case and the somewhat non existent lugs.

The watch studied in detail is even greater than the wonderful whole. From 2 feet away, it looks like a nicely made watch. From a close loupe look, it is unmistakably a wonderfully made watch.

I was smitten by the balance of the dial work. The white tapestry is luminescent and the new baton markers and three hands are perfect in unison. I thought the original Jumbo was outstanding but this new dial work - simply sublime (yes, that word again).

When I turned the watch around to inspect the movement through its exhibition back I discovered a movement smaller than the Jumbo but no less impressive. This is where words will not do justice. It just has to be seen. The size of the Cal 3120 is small compared to the overall size of the watch but its not so noticeable that it distracts. The rotor is wonderfully designed and carved (or pressed?). The bridges were all beveled nicely, clean and polished. As with all autos, much of the movement is covered by the rotor. The balance wheel is quite special as it seems to be altogether a new design. It has a bridge over it to secure it for higher accuracy and stability (as I understand it).

The Asst Manager then offered to have the bracelet adjusted to see how it fits on my wrist. I agreed to this with some reluctance (because I really did not want to commit to a sale right away as a norm - no matter how much I liked it). So I walked around the shop for 5 minutes looking at every single mirror in the shop admiring it on my wrist. I realised its not as heavy as I had expected but its not so light to feel cheap. Slowly but surely I had the sinking feeling that I will not be able to walk away without it.

I put the watch down on the watch tray after taking all the effort that my self control could muster. The Asst Manager and I then spent a few minutes talking about AP, the new RO model and she showed me the engraved serial number on the back. Itís a single digit number (000x). Its always special to have a single digit number serial number. For me, its like being the first.

After another ten minutes of chatting, I realised my resolve not to buy that day - went out the window 5 minutes ago. So put the watch on and completed the purchase there and then.

I am glad to say that I have not taken this watch off since. Each day, the satisfaction seems to grow as I catch myself looking at the watch without looking at the time. This watch is the evolution of the Royal Oak and not a revolution. Itís a great success because it retains all the positive characteristics of the line but yet modernise all other aspects to continue making it the truly long life classic it will be.

My sincerest congratulations to Audemars Piquet and all the boffins there for a wonderful watch. In my books this watch is a double home run. It will most definitely help in AP's claim in being amongst the best watch brands in the world.

(* this story was first posted online at the Audemars Piguet Forum on a thread called "The Sublime")

 


Montage of the sublime Royal Oak

I was unable to resist spending hours photographing the RO trying to capture the essence of its beauty. Please do take note that the automatic montage will go through many scans. They fall into the following views:

1. The arrival home, the packaging, boxes and papers
2. Royal Oak as a whole
3. Close ups Case, Bracelet and Crown
4. Close up of the Dial
5. Close up of the Movement
6. On wrist
7. Watch posed in different angles, lighting on different boxes

(To restart the automatic montage below, simply hit the refresh button on your browser.)

 

Useful Links:
Purists page on new Royal Oak 15300

Purists page on Audemars Piguet 3120

 

Further observations...

After nearly a week of owning the watch, here are some of the detailed observations regarding the watch and finishing:

1. The bracelet is quite sublime in design. Even though it is thicker than its older brother the RO Jumbo its still well balanced overall. It has a satin finish on the top bottom and side but the beveled edges is clearly polished for reflective characteristic. Also, the small double joints on every link are actually polished on the side so there is a nice reflection of light when worn. Quite subtle but does add class to the bracelet as its a clearly a design element.

2. For the case, I noticed that on the inside of the bezel adjacent to the dial - is highly polish and reflects light a fair bit. The reflective quality results overall a high level of internal reflection which gives the white tapestry dial a luminescent quality.

3. The crystal is also very well fitted and AR coated and amongst the very best I have seen on watches. The same for the exhibition back. Just see the montage close up of the dial and back. All my photos have NOT been touched up.

4. The tapestry dial is one of the highlights of the watch. On most of my watches, it is inevitable that at certain angles sunlight or high fluorescent light gets reflected into the eye. This never happens on the tapestry dial and to me, it raises the clarity and usability. If anything, reflection will be from the satin finished bezel.

5. As for the minute markers and hands - baton and hands hide a nice slim strip of luminescent material for poor lighting conditions. It is quite obvious that this material is not discernable to the naked eye in bright conditions.

6. The hexagonal screws on the bezel are also high polish to contrast the satin of the bezel on the front. On the side of the bezel it is high polished. It is obvious that the contrast of the sating and high polish elements of the watch actually adds a fair bit of bling to the watch overall.

© WEBPAGE PUBLISHED 14 AUGUST 2005