A rare and attractive complicated wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Audemars Piguet, founded in 1875. Estimated production period: 2008–2010. Case in 18k rose gold, diameter 39mm, thickness 11mm, painted brown-grey dial with enlarged ‘Grande Tapisserie’ pattern, light cream ‘Roundel’ sub-dials with brown-grey centres, solid 18k rose gold caseback with engraved “Royal Oak” inscription, case number and model serial number. Self-winding caliber 2385 with an inertial segment in 18k yellow gold, thin, with a power reserve of up to 40 hours. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, small seconds hand at 6 o’clock, chronograph with central seconds hand, 30-minute and 12-hour counters, and date between 4 and 5 o’clock. Dark brown crocodile strap, Audemars Piguet ‘AP’ 18k rose gold double folding clasp.
The present reference 26022 was produced by Audemars Piguet as a precious-metal Royal Oak Chronograph on either a leather or rubber strap, most likely launched circa 2004. Reference 26022 is widely accepted as a precious metal version of the second-generation Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26300 launched in 2008. However, there are reasons to believe that the production of reference 26022 began several years earlier, perhaps as far back as 2005 (Ineichen Auctioneers sold in 2022 a Ref. 26022OR example dated 2005, while Phillips mentions 2004 as the launch date). Multiple versions of model 26022 with yellow gold, rose gold, and white gold versions designated as Refs. 26022BA, 26022OR, and 26022BC, respectively, were produced until at least 2012, and are divided into two types. The first, early type of reference 26022 has a specific dial design with square luminous hour markers. In 2008, Audemars Piguet made an upgrade to reference 26022, most probably technically similar to the changeover from Ref. 25860 to Ref. 26300 (the replacement of a two-part case with a three-part one). With this modernisation, the designation of reference 26022 did not change, but the dial design was modified – reference 26022 of the latter period has a dial of the second type, as the present example, which generally reminds one of the original design of the Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 25860, with luminous baton indexes designed by Gérald Genta, a luminous triangular index at 12 o’clock, and small rectangular markers at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. Production of the second-type 26022 continued until 2012 when the collection was relaunched in a 41mm case (Ref. 26320).
The present watch is remarkable as a chronograph of legendary Royal Oak design, with its warm shades of the 18k rose gold case on a leather strap, fitted with contrasting bicolour brown-grey and light cream ‘Roundel’ sporty dial
The distinctive feature of the present example is the ‘Roundel’ dial design with counters, which have a contrasting (in this case, light cream colour) circular outline and a central zone in the same colour as the main dial. The dials of this style give the watch a distinctly sporty feel, which is why they are often referred to as racing dials. We use the designation ‘Roundel’ because the counters of this design are similar to the characteristic RAF roundel emblems applied as an identification mark, painted on military aircraft to identify them to other aircraft and ground forces. Audemars Piguet also produced other dial variations of that type, including Ref. 26022 with a dark blue dial and silvered sub-dial rings (white gold Ref. 26022BC.OO.D028CR.01), and with a silvered dial and black sub-dial rings (rose gold Ref. 26022OR.OO.D098CR.01), both with an enlarged ‘Grande Tapisserie’ relief pattern.
Reasons to bid
This watch belongs to the short transitional period of the Royal Oak Chronograph design development from the original Ref. 26860 to Ref. 26300. The solid 18k rose gold case on a leather strap, rare dial type with a large, tangible triangular marker at 12 o’clock and ‘Roundel’ sub-dials make this a fine and charismatic watch representing a significant step in the evolution of the Royal Oak Chronograph over the years. Therefore, the Royal Oak Chronograph ‘Roundel’ Counters Ref. 26022OR.OO.D098CR.02 Type 2 would be an excellent purchase for the collector who desires an attractive, rare and collectible chronograph wristwatch from a world-renowned traditional watch brand, one of the undisputed leaders in the haute horlogerie watch market. The present watch is remarkable as a chronograph of legendary Royal Oak design, with its warm shades of the 18k rose gold case on a leather strap, fitted with contrasting bicolour brown-grey and light cream ‘Roundel’ sporty dial – a rarity in this collection, undoubtedly making this lot highly attractive.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the legendary Royal Oak, this Ineichen Auctioneers sale offers an unprecedented selection of automatic chronographs produced by Audemars Piguet since 1998. Against the backdrop of other lots, above all the automatic Royal Oak Jumbo and Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, which enjoy the active interest of collectors, the Royal Oak Chronograph has so far clearly been underestimated. It is, nevertheless, very attractive and promising for collecting part of the magnificent historical heritage of the Royal Oak collection. In addition, the Royal Oak Chronograph remains relevant as a luxurious daily wearer. The keen collector should note that also offered for purchase in this sale are other attractive and collectible Royal Oak chronographs, including the rarest and most desirable Royal Oak Chronograph City of Sails ‘Be Happy’ Limited Edition, Royal Oak Chronograph ‘Tropical Hands’, and Royal Oak Chronograph ‘Electric Blue’ among others.