In 1972 the legendary Gerald Genta designed what has now become Audemars Piguet flagship and most successful range of watches - the Royal Oak. The octagonal bezel inspiration was from the ports of the battleship "HMS Royal Oak". A luxury Stainless steel watch was not a very popular concept in the days when prestigious watchmakers focused on making thin watches with complications in precious metal.
The 15202 released in 2012 is arguably the only true living relative of the original royal oak ref:5402 (Jumbo). The 15202 has kept the 39mm size and the AP Caliber 2121
In 2005 Audemars Piguet decided to come out with an alternative to the original Royal Oak a ref:15300. With a new inhouse calibre(3120) (much thicker) and design differences. AP were able to satisfy the demand for the Royal Oak at a much less expensive price point. This reference was updated to the 15400 in 2012 with for the first time a 41mm case. At the 2019 SIHH the current 15500 was released in a blue, white and grey dial
There is a forever debate amongst AP fans about which is better. The purist arguing that they should only be one Royal Oak- the 15202 while the more contemporary fans would argue for the 15500 with updated movement, bigger case and more features. Lets break it down here...
The 15202 has the original "Jumbo" 39mm while the 15500 has the 41mm case size. Case size truly depends on preference and wrist size so no argument over which is "better" here
The 15202 is advertised as "Extra-Thin" at "8.1mm" compared to the 15500 10.4mm. Producing extra thin movements brings every true watchmaker a sense of pride in its craftsmanship due to the complexity
The 15202 extra thin calibre 2121 was originally a Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber and has been used by other prestigious watchmakers like Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe. The 15500 introduced an entire movement for AP ref:4302 (also used in the code 11.59) It has a much improved power reserve of 70hrs
Price & Demand
The 15500ST priced at £19900 is much lower than the 15202ST at £25,100. The Demand for both watches are very much high especially the Stainless steel versions with wait lists of years at an authorised dealer or AP boutique. From my investigation the 15202ST will take you at least twice as long to get due to the limited production. Luckily your can find them readily available on the pre-owned market from reputable retailers. See here for offers on the Royal Oak
Both feature the beautiful Tapisserie Dials. Which are created by engraving the brass dial with a preision metalwork chisel. This tool is used to form little lozenges between pyramid squares on the dial .
15202 Petite Tapisserie:
The 'Petite Tapisserie' is proprietary to the 15202. It has a much smaller pattern which is harder to create
15500 Grande Tapisserie:
The 'Grande Tapisserie' is a more popular version used on a series of Royal Oaks and Offshore models . The squares on the pattern are much bigger than on the 'Petite Tapisserie' .
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