A very rare, attractive and charismatic second-generation chronograph wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Audemars Piguet, founded in 1875. Estimated production period: 2008–2012. Case in stainless steel, diameter 39mm, thickness 11mm, solid stainless steel caseback with engraved ‘Royal Oak’ inscription, case number and model serial number. Chocolate-brown dial, also known as a Havana-brown dial, with enlarged ‘tapisserie’ pattern and ‘Roundel’ counters, centres of the brown counters finely decorated by circular grooves, orange central seconds and counters hands, peripheral scale with minutes and seconds divisions and orange Arabic numerals in 5-minute (5-second) positions. 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, 30-minute and 12-hour counters, and date between 4 and 5 o’clock. Royal Oak stainless steel bracelet, Audemars Piguet ‘AP’ stainless steel folding clasp. 

Lot essay 

Reference 26300ST is the Royal Oak chronograph produced from 2008 as a successor to the Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 25860, in a modified three-part case designed to optimize its water resistance. The bezel of Ref. 26300ST was slightly wider than the bezel of Ref. 25860. Both use the same self-winding chronograph caliber 2385, which had been developed by the brand in collaboration with movement-blank producer Frédéric Piguet as a personalized version of its legendary caliber 1185. The Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26300 was available between 2008 and 2012. Audemars Piguet subsequently introduced the Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26320 with an enlarged 41mm case and a newly-designed dial. 

The present lot definitely stands out due to the charismatic combination of its Havana-brown dial and classic enlarged ‘tapisserie’ pattern, and ‘Roundel’ counter design with contrasting orange accents.

Ref. 26300ST was produced in stainless steel with many dial options, from Ref. 26300ST.OO.1110ST.03 to Ref. 26300ST.OO.1110ST.08, of which just two references feature distinctive ‘Roundel’ dials: the present reference, featuring a brown dial, and Ref. 26300ST.OO.1110ST.07, with a blue dial. The specialty of the ‘Roundel’ dial is in the design of the counters, which have a contrasting (in this case, silvery) 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. The other features of the reference 26300 dial are the original Gerald Genta Royal Oak rounded baton gold appliques and hands with luminous coating, printed (instead of applied) luminous rectangular markers at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, and a large applied luminous triangular marker at 12 o’clock. 

The present lot definitely stands out due to the charismatic combination of its Havana-brown dial and classic enlarged ‘tapisserie’ pattern, and ‘Roundel’ counter design with contrasting orange accents. Our research shows Ref. 26300ST.OO.1110ST.08 has two main varieties in the execution of the dial – Type1 features small print with the ‘4’ of the hour counter very close to the inner ‘railway’ scale, and Type2 features large print with the ‘4’ of the hour counter distant from the inner ‘railway’ scale. Type2 appears to be significantly rarer, making it an extremely attractive object for collecting and research. 

Reasons to bid 

The Royal Oak Chronograph Havana-brown ‘Roundel’ Counters Ref. 26300ST.OO.1110ST.08 Type2 appears to be an excellent purchase for the collector who desires a very rare, attractive and charismatic chronograph wristwatch from a world-renowned traditional watch brand, one of the undisputed leaders in the haute horlogerie watch market. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak collecting is becoming more and more attractive, and connoisseurs of this iconic design are in search of new themes. The situation is such that chronographs should be recognised as one of the most promising areas, since the market of classic ‘Jumbos’ has basically reached a point of equilibrium. The present watch is remarkable as a second-generation chronograph of the legendary Royal Oak design, with distinctive and sporty ‘Roundel’ counters on a charismatic Havana-brown dial of a very rare Type2 ‘large print’ dial, undoubtedly making this lot even more attractive.