Audemars Piguet has made some pretty crazy Royal Oaks over the years… But this 10-piece, multi-coloured, multi-million-dollar collection might just be the most mental release the Swiss brand has ever come up with.
Last year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak – the world’s first luxury sports watch and a bona fide design icon – Audemars Piguet blessed us with a bevy of interesting Royal Oak novelties, including an eye-catching Perpetual Calendar in blue ceramic and the RD#3, the first Royal Oak “Jumbo” in history to be equipped with a self-winding flying tourbillon.
They also unveiled a ridiculous reinterpretation of the already very bougie ‘rainbow’ Royal Oak. Rather than just having one watch with rainbow-graduated gems, AP thought they’d go one further and release two sets of 10 watches where each individual watch is fully decorated with a single gemstone in a vivid red, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink or orange hue so as to form a rainbow when set side by side.
Valued at over $12 million USD each, these two sets – one in 37mm and one in 41mm – rank as easily one of the most ridiculous creations Audemars Piguet has ever come up with.
Being that they only made two sets, too (and that it’s hard to imagine who would be the sort of person to buy a set of 10 rainbow Royal Oaks), most watch fans thought these pieces would never see the light of day. They’re the sort of thing that makes an exciting press release, but not something you’d see in the wild.
Well, how wrong we were. Now, in 2023, one of the two sets has finally been photographed – and it’s just as ridiculous as you might have imagined.
The 41mm set in all its glory… With a Ferrari F40, just to add to the flex. Image: @theswisscaveau
Well-known watch collector @theswisscaveau – who already drew plenty of eyeballs on social media over the weekend after he craned a Ferrari F40 onto a yacht for the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix – revealed that he’s acquired one of the two sets of rainbow APs (the 41mm set, specifically) showing them off to the world at the glamorous motor-racing event.
Honestly, if there was ever the place to show off a 10-piece set of rainbow Royal Oaks, it’d be the Monaco Grand Prix.
Created in collaboration with Salanitro, one of the world’s best gem-setters, these 10 watches are crafted from 18ct white gold and feature rubies, emeralds, blue sapphires, tanzanites, yellow chrysoberyls, pink tourmalines, amethysts, blue topaz, orange spessartites and tsavorites respectively.
It’s hard to overstate just how impressive it is to source and cut gems like this. As AP themselves put it, “finding the right stones, colours and contrasts, while responding to [our] strict criteria for colour, clarity and quality, was a crucial step in the design of the rainbow sets and no easy task for timepieces covered with 861 gems of the same hue (ranging between ~30 and ~47 carats per watch).”
WATCH the creative process behind the x below (turn on English subtitles).
All of these gems have been baguette-cut, invisibly set and polished by hand to present sharp and clear angles. The result? Watches that look like they’re entirely made out of gemstones, with only the sharp grid of their setting (which, on the dial, cleverly evokes the Royal Oak’s classic “tapisserie” hobnail dial) hinting otherwise.
We’re just surprised it wasn’t some Saudi prince who ended up buying one of the sets…
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