In December 1875, Jules Louis Audemars formed a partnership with his childhood friend, Edward Auguste Piguet. In 1881, the two watchmakers created officially Audemars Piguet & Cie based in la Vallée de Joux. The Royal Oak was launched in 1972, after Audemars Piguet called on the genius of iconic designer Gerald Genta to produce a wristwatch both elegant and sporty. Named after the famous English oak tree for Charles II, it is one of the first wristwatch designed by Genta.
This timeless model is known in many variations. According to the collector book on calendar watches published by Audemars Piguet the first reference of the Royal Oak perpetual calendar was the reference 25554 which was produced from 1983 to 1991 in steel, two-tone, yellow gold and platinum (made respectively in 49 examples in steel, 229 in yellow gold/two-tone and 1 in platinum). Produced from 1982 to 1993 – but offer for sale until 1998 –, the ref. 25654 embodies the knowhow of Audemars Piguet which is the first manufacture to produce a luxury sports watch featuring a complication. Out of a total production of 800 pieces in all metal combined, 422 were made in yellow gold, 272 in stainless steel, 72 two-toned, 33 platinum and 1 white gold. Combining a perpetual calendar movement to a sports watch was, at the time, a very “avant-garde” way to approaching horology. Hardly recognizable from the first versions, only slightly thicker (0.75 mm in fact) due to a large rubber seal added by the Technical Department who rethought the water-resistance system. The smooth salmon dial with no tapisserie is an extremely rare feature, the most desirable version of this reference. The wriswatch is fitted with the well-known 2120 caliber, an ultra-thin automatic movement, introduced in 1967, originally created by Jaeger-LeCoultre and used by Audemars Piguet for the Royal Oak, Vacheron Constantin for the 222 and Patek Philippe for the Nautilus.