“The 15202, aka ‘Jumbo,’ is the clearest contemporary connection back to the original Royal Oak in steel as conceived by watch design virtuoso Gérald Genta,” HoDinkee asserts, correctly. And now the Audemars Piguet 15202ST is gone. Speaking on AP’s Social Club video feed (41:50), CEO Francois Bennahmias dropped the bomb . . .
So another huge watch company said recently that they would stop making the 5711, which is so Patek. The 5711 is Patek. So we could say there will be a new reference for the 15202 next year. So we will not make 15202ST, but that will be replaced by something else, and for specific reasons that we will not talk about today.
For reasons that are obvious enough, the terminate with extreme prejudice announcement will immediately and dramatically raise the price of pre-owned and gray market Jumbo Royal Oaks to the stratosphere. Which are already sky high.
Needless to say, there are plenty of other Royal Oak models for sale at AP. The official website offers no fewer than 115 “basic” models, 53 Offshore variants and 11 “Concept” versions. That’s 179 different Royal Oaks. And it’s not a comprehensive list.
This embarrassment of horological riches raises a simple question: why? And puts us right back where we were when Patek Philippe killed the other Genta meisterwerk, the steel Nautilus 5711.
Patek eliminated the 5711 to walk away from the wait-list-a-mania bedeviling the model, presumably to increase sales of its other, more profitable pieces.
It makes sense that Patek’s crosstown rival would follow suit by dropping the Audemars Piguet 15202ST. There’s currently an eight-year waiting list for the most Genta of Royal Oaks. Then again . . .
Patek Philippe has a much wider variety of watch styles and designs to “fall back on” (i.e. divert buyers from a watch they couldn’t get to one they can). All AP has to offer are the farrago of Oaks and the Code 11.59, an unsuitable Oak Alternative. Or, not to put too fine a point on it, a flop. Certainly in comparison with Royal Oak sales.
Audemars Piguet’s jefe promises to replace their steel grail Oak with . . . something. It’s hard to believe that this something is going to be something other than another Royal Oak of some sort or description (though i can’t think of any variation they haven’t already created).
Mr. Bennahmias is taking a very aggressive approach to growing the company, expanding its product line and retail network even further.
AP’s going to release an Iron Man Marvel watch on April 10. (And we now know it can’t be called that because of the Iron Man competition.) They’re opening APHouses in Tokyo, Milan and New York. And AP’s set to test drive Certified Pre-Owned watches in Switzerland, then New York.
So who knows? All things considered, the 1502ST replacement could be something rad. It’s not like AP doesn’t do WTF.
Both the JLC and Rolex have evolved. But neither have turned their back on what made them grail great in the first place, or created unrecognizable offshoots.
In the pursuit of profit, AP has wandered down the path of overchoice. Instead of killing the Audemars Piguet 15202ST, they should eliminate dozens of Oaklings and work on more appealing designs. IMHO.