Audemars Piguet’s Grail Jail Fail


Audemars Piguet’s grail watch is the Royal Oak. OMG do they sell the shit out of it. Audemars Piguet drops Royal Oaks in white ceramic or full-set with diamonds and sapphires proclaims. How many Oaks are in AP’s forest?

To tell you the truth, in all this lack of excitement, I’ve kinda lost track. So let’s count…

Audemars Piguet’s grail watch is offered online in 129 variations, not including 46 Offshore variants and 13 Concept watches. So add three more for a grand total of 191 Oaks. Mon dieu c’est beaucoup!

Not that AP’s owners are complaining. Way back in 2016, the watchmaker grossed $917m. These days they gotta be banking a billion. But there’s big trouble in little Switzerland. AP spent a fortune developing their Code 11.59 and it’s a bust.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it here. None of it flattering. Much of it of the “stick a fork in it” variety.

The oddly-named, typographically obtuse (check out the caseback below), meticulously-crafted, boring AF Code 11.59 is doing a fraction of the business of Audemars Piguet’s grail watch.

But don’t take my word for it. Even the ever-obsequious ho’s at HoDinkee can read the writing on the wall.

The 37mm size of the Royal Oak has found a lot of fans and has become a mainstay, which leads me to believe that this Code offering will be a quick success – or as much as any Code is commercially successful versus the Royal Oak.

AP keeps trying to do something with the Code 11.59 to lift sales to somewhere near the Audemars Piguet grail watch. The brace of 38mm 11.59’s are their latest attempt. As watchpro reveals, AP reckons less is more. The new watches offer…

“… a different movement than the other recent self-winding Codes, the ones measuring 41mm in steel. This time, the watch is powered by the smaller Calibre 5900, launched in 2022, at 24.2mm x 4mm.

The watch lost some power reserve, now down to 60 hours, and the case still has 30m of water resistance. But by bringing the overall size down – and case thickness to 9.6mm – the brand now has a more unisex option for those who found 41mm too big.”

The important question: is the $33,200 price too big? An entry-level 41mm Vacheron Constantin Overseas runs $28k, tax included. (A bog-standard 41mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual costs $6400. Just sayin’.) Your 32 large buys you a pre-owned Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak from a reputable dealer.

Not that they’ve asked me, but AP’s new leadership should try again. The Oak was a rad watch in its day, designed by Gerald Genta in an evening. I reckon a distinctive watch from the house of Audemars Piguet would find favor. I guess they’re too busy counting their money.

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