Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 14790ST

  • Brand: Audemars Piguet
  • Model Name // Number: Royal Oak // 14790ST
  • Year: 1994

About this Model: At the time of its debut in 1972, the Royal Oak was an iconoclastic model. AP made a sports watch with an integrated bracelet, in steel, and priced it equally to the top tier gold dress watches of the era. While not a runaway success at the time, it soon became one. And since that time, it has gone on to become the standard-bearer of not only modern Audemars Piguet, but of all modern sports watches. Today, every brand from Patek Philippe to Hublot has its own integrated-bracelet steel sports watch, and they all can trace their roots to the Royal Oak.

The original Royal Oak was a “jumbo” model, the 5402ST, that measured 39 mm in diameter. However, due to the octagonal shape of the case (which was made to evoke the port hole of the HMS Royal Oak) and the integrated bracelet, the watch wears ~1-2 mm larger. As someone with a 6.5″ wrist, I loved the 5402 but it always overhung the edges of my wrist, never quite draping in the silky manner it was intended to. The 14790ST, on the other hand, is measured at 36 mm but wears at 37-38 mm and drapes perfectly. It features a beautifully finished automatic JLC calibre 2225, which is extra slim and leaves the whole watch a svelte 8 mm thick.

About My Example: The first thing that you’ll notice about my Royal Oak is that the original dark blue dial isn’t dark blue any more. Over the years, this “petit tapisseire” patterned dial was one of the few to have evenly aged to a caramel brown. In watch parlance, this is known as a “tropical dial” because the patina is thought to be a result of sun and heat. In fact, when looked at under a magnifying loupe, you can still see speckles of blue paint throughout.

I was lucky enough to walk into my local vintage watch dealer, European Watch Company, only hours after they bought this watch on a trade from another collector. I’d been interested in buying a blue dial 14790ST but thought they didn’t have any in stock and was going there to see a different watch with a friend. Needless to say, I walked out of there with this watch on my wrist and haven’t felt the need to find a blue dial since.