An extremely rare, charismatic and fine stainless-steel day-date self-winding wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Audemars Piguet, founded in 1875. Purchase date: 1996. Case in stainless steel, diameter 36mm, 9mm thick, solid stainless steel caseback with Royal Oak emblem, and model serial number engraved. Black dial with ‘tapisserie’ pattern, flat chapter ring, luminous baton markers, minute scale with line, 1/2-minute subdivisions and triangular markers in four principal positions, Audemars Piguet new logo printed at 6 o’clock, and ‘AP’ applied symbol below double baton marker at 12 o’clock. Self-winding caliber 2224/2810, rotor with heavy segment in 21k gold, power reserve of up to 40 hours. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, date sub-dial at 3 o’clock, and day of the week sub-dial at 9 o’clock. Royal Oak stainless-steel bracelet, second-generation Royal Oak stainless steel ‘ladder’ double folding clasp. 

Lot essay 

Audemars Piguet introduced the reference 25572 in 1983, with some early examples designated by the brand as Ref. 5572. Audemars Piguet made the transition to the new five-digit reference system in 1983–1984, adding the first “2” to the previous reference number, which is how the Ref. 25572 appeared. The watch offers a double calendar function with the indication of the date on a sub-dial at 3 o’clock, and the day of the week on a sub-dial at 9 o’clock. This configuration creates a clean and well-balanced dial structure, making it extremely appealing and appreciated amongst collectors. Observers often cite this reference as one of the most attractive Royal Oaks, second only to the original 5402 reference. 

Due to the characteristic arrangement of the counters along the horizontal axis and the wide circular brushed outline of the sub-dials, collectors nickname this Royal Oak model ‘The Owl’. Please note a certain degree of similarity between the 25572 dial and the dial of the Royal Oak perpetual calendars, which retain the same position of the date and day counters. In a sense, reference 25572 seems to be a simplified version of the Royal Oak perpetual calendar, although, strictly speaking, this is not the case, as Royal Oak perpetual calendars use another base caliber and calendar module. 

The present lot is a notable example of a late Royal Oak Day Date reference 25572 in stainless steel with an extremely rare Mk2 Type3 dial execution.

Reference 25572 is attractive to the collector because it is the first medium-sized 36mm Royal Oak to be fitted with an additional ‘small’ complication. Phillips reports it remained in production until 1998, with a total of 1770 pieces made: 576 in stainless steel, 524 in 18k yellow gold, 654 in stainless steel and 18k yellow gold and 16 in 18k white gold. Since many examples on the market exceed these limits, we assume that the brand combined the case numbers of different 36mm references, as they used the same components in the assembly of the case. 

Caliber 2224/2810 of the present example is based on a movement-blank supplied by Jaeger-LeCoultre, while the day-date calendar module was manufactured by Dubois Dépraz. Both companies are long-term Audemars Piguet partners and suppliers. In general, the caliber of the present example is a modernised version of the previous generation movement 2124/2810, which powered all 5572/25572 examples of the initial production run. 

Careful study of the execution of reference 25572 shows that it is divided into four main types. Mk1 stands out for its so-called ‘small logo’, which is the main feature of watches produced between 1983 and 1993, while Mk2 examples feature a new logo (1993–1998). The dial of reference 25572 Type1 has the hour and minute hands, as well as the hour markers, of a slender stick style, while the Type2 dial is distinguished by the presence of hour and minute hands, along with hour markers, of a rounded baton shape – the original Gérald Genta Royal Oak style. Royal Oak Day Date Mk1s are much more common than Mk2s. 

The category of rarities that are very attractive for collecting includes early 5572BA examples with the ‘small logo’, diamond-set applied square indexes replacing stick markers (Mk1 Type1 ‘Diamond Indexes’), an early Royal Oak Day Date Ref. 25572SA with a white enamelled dial (Mk1 Type1 Enamel), Ref. 25572ST Mk2 Type1 Enamel with white enamelled dial and Roman numerals, and the mysterious Mk2 Type3 – the present example, which, in our opinion, is one of the rarest 5572/25572 reference executions. It features the new logo at 6 o’clock, an applied ‘AP’ monogram below the double baton marker at 12 o’clock, a flat chapter ring, a central zone with ‘tapisserie’ decoration, luminous baton hands, shortened luminous baton applied indexes, and a minute scale with a thin outline and 1/2-minute subdivisions. The black dial with black counters is a very unusual feature of this reference, therefore we decided to designate this design as the ‘Black Owl’. 

Reasons to bid 

Nowadays, due to the incredible popularity of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches, medium-sized Royal Oak references are generating significant interest as collectibles and as investments. The present lot is a notable example of a late Royal Oak Day Date reference 25572 in stainless steel with an extremely rare Mk2 Type3 dial execution. The mysterious ‘Black Owl’ monochrome black dial with black counters undoubtedly gives this example a unique character and charisma. Therefore, the Royal Oak Day Date Ref. 25572ST.OO.0789ST.02 ‘Black Owl’ would be an excellent purchase for the collector who desires an extremely rare, charismatic and imposing small-complication medium-sized Royal Oak with a memorable ‘Black Owl’ dial, produced by a world-renowned traditional watch brand, one of the undisputed leaders in the haute horlogerie watch market.