5 “Entry-Level” Audemars Piguet Watches for New Collectors


Audemars Piguet timepieces combine iconic designs with meticulously hand-finished movements. Accordingly, prices run well into six figures. For new collectors and those considering their first Audemars Piguet purchase, WatchTime offers five currently available models at the more accessible end of the range.

Royal Oak Selfwinding

The word “audacious“ is invoked far too often in the world of watches, and though the Royal Oak may seem tame by today’s standards, it was truly audacious when it debuted in 1972. It was a precious timepiece in a non-precious metal, carrying a luxury price. Over the years, AP left well-enough alone, and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, the Royal Oak stands as a design icon, and it is by far the best known Audemars Piguet collection.

Our featured model, reference 15400, is the largest Royal Oak produced to date. (Even icons have to keep up with the times.) Though at 41 mm, the case would hardly be considered oversize by today’s standards. The blue Grande Tapisserie dial, referred to by some as the “waffle” dial, is perhaps as well-known as the octagonal bezel. Any watch enthusiast will instantly recognize this classic. Beneath the trademark dial ticks the automatic-winding manufacture caliber 3120 with 40 jewels, a solid 22k gold winding rotor, and a 60 hour power reserve.

The Royal Oak Selfwinding in stainless steel is priced at $17,100.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
The new 41 mm Royal Oak offers iconic looks with modern dimensions.

 

Royal Oak Offshore Diver

If the Royal Oak is an icon, its big brother, the Royal Oak Offshore (“ROO” to those in the know) is a modern sensation. Offshores are Royal Oaks turned up to 11. Today the ROO seems like a natural development, but when the concept was first proposed, it shocked even AP management. Fortunately, the Offshore received a green light, and a new Royal Oak era was born.

Our featured watch is the Royal Oak Offshore Diver, reference 15703ST, and it is among the most popular members of the Offshore family. It features the “rubber-clad” accents often found on Offshore models, The case measures 42 mm x 13.9 mm and it offers 300 meter water resistance. The crown at 10 o’clock turns the internal bezel with the typical countdown markings. The Mega Tapisserie dial is a larger version of that found on the Royal Oak shown above, and the broad hands offer excellent legibility. The in-house caliber 3120 provides the power.

The Royal Oak Offshore Diver 15703ST on a rubber strap retails for $19,000.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver
The Royal Oak Offshore Diver is one of the most popular Offshore models.

Millenary 4101

The Millenary 4101 is Audemars Piguet’s modern spin on the classic dress watch, and like the Royal Oak Offshore, the size and shape of the case instantly set this watch apart. Our featured model, reference 15350ST, measures 47 mm from 9 to 3.

The case may be the first thing that catches the eye, but the movement is the star of the show. Unlike many shaped watches, the Millenary’s in-house caliber 4101 movement fits the case and follows its form perfectly. Though at first glance this may look like a so-called skeleton watch, in fact it is not – no material has been removed from any component to enhance the view. The small dials leave plenty of room to enjoy the traditionally-finished movement beneath, and the sapphire display back offers visual enjoyment from that side as well.

The movement has been designed to create a deep, three-dimensional effect. The construction exposes the freesprung balance at 3 o’clock, and AP has thoughtfully inverted the escapement to improve the view from the dial side. The manufacture caliber 4101 features a solid 22k gold winding rotor spinning on ceramic bearings. Each part of the movement is decorated by hand. These time-consuming operations by highly trained specialists contribute significantly to the cost of the watch. The mainplate wears horizontal Côtes de Genève on the front and perlage, or circular graining, on the back. The bevels and countersinks are polished.

The Millenary 4101 in stainless steel on strap lists for $24,500.

Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101
The Millenary 4101 is an avant garde take on the traditional dress watch.

 

Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph – 42 mm

Last year Audemars Piguet introduced six new Royal Oak Offshore models, and this is one of the most popular. It’s the ROO Chronograph in a 42 mm x 14.21 mm case with the slate gray “elephant” dial on a gray hand-stitched hornback alligator strap.

The new collection, which bears reference 26470, incorporates many updates. Rubber accents on the pushers and crown have been upgraded with black ceramic pieces. The new Mega Tapisserie dials have been well received, and the snailed subdials add even more texture. Broader, faceted hour and minute hands improve legibility.

The big surprise is found on the other side of the case: newly added sapphire display backs provide a view of the caliber 3126 chronograph movement with its solid 22k gold winding rotor. This movement features a cam-switching chronograph mechanism and stop-seconds for precise time setting.

The stainless steel Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph retails for $26,000.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
The new ROO Chronographs have proven very popular with collectors.

 

Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph – 44 mm

If you seek something a bit bolder than the 42 mm Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph shown above, consider its big brother in a 44 mm x 14.13 mm case. This model retains the familiar black bezel, fashioned from highly scratch-resistant ceramic. Large rectangular pushers replace the smaller round pieces found on the 42 mm models. Like the smaller sibling, this model features the Mega Tapisserie dial, here complimented by white gold hands and hour markers. The broad tachymeter at the outer edge of the dial lets you calculate speed over a known distance.

Behind the dial lies the caliber 3126 automatic winding chronograph movement with 365 components. The movement runs at 21,600 vph in 59 jewels. The dial registers include continuous seconds at 12 o’clock., a 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock, and a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock.

The 44-mm Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in steel and ceramic on rubber strap, reference 26400, lists at $33,400.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
The 44 mm Offshore Chronograph makes a bold statement on the wrist.

 

This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.

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16 Responses to “5 “Entry-Level” Audemars Piguet Watches for New Collectors”

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  1. Justin T.

    I think entry level is a bit of misleading in my humble opinion. I am a watch collector and I do enjoy my so-called luxury watches such as pateks, APs and A. langers but for most of us these watches do not make daily beater. They are nice to look at and regular service cost for these watches can buy you a nice decent watch that you can use everyday.

    Reply
  2. D. Goode

    Sorry, Not entry level prices. More like 3K – 7K for new collectors My most expensive watch is 15k out 5 (Blancpain, Baume Mercier, Tag Heure, Meistersinger, Tissot ) real watches and I wonder if it’s really worth going higher for (Rolex, A,.Lange, etc.). I am a average guy that love watches..

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  3. Interesting to get that the ones who never consider buying such a watches are nevertheless reading articles and leaving comments after. Why? Too much time you don’t know where to spend? Or you are trying to stop watch manufacturers? Big war with them? People want to spend money. Most of us dreaming to have such a watches. What is wrong with it? How it can be connected to others?

    Reply
  4. George Joannou

    Ah yes the world of the rich and the mega rich. What’s that saying ..” if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it.” Firstly it is all relative, what is $20 -40k or more spent on a fine quality watch when you’re a millionaire or a billionaire for that matter. I am a man of modest means certainly not struggling but doing ok and because of my passion for fine watches I don’t mind buying Omegas or a Rolex in the $9 – $12 k range. Don’t get me wrong that is a lot of money for me but my philosophy is buy the best watch that you can reasonably afford and enjoy it. I know collectors of modest means who are happy to pay that kind of money on good vintage watches. Regardless of our wealth status we all have one thing in common we have a passion for fine mechanical watches and that is something that only a true watch enthusiast can relate to.

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  5. In the world of fine watches, (AP, Patek, A Lange, etc) $15-20k is actually entry-level. The price of the watch is simply what the market will bear, and is set by some combination of perceived quality of the housing and movement, brand reputation, exclusivity, etc. A great deal of time goes into the development and manufacture of the movement and fabrication of the case

    Precious metals may add to the cost, but not necessarily. (One of the most expensive Pateks, for example, is in stainless, and sold for over $2 mil)

    As someone who owns several of the aforementioned brands, I find spending this kind of money on a watch less ridiculous than I do spending it on a lump of polished carbon. As they say, if you don’t think it’s reasonable then don’t buy one!

    Reply
  6. Are these watches accessible all over the world or are there specific countries where these watches are available?

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  7. Bob Harriss

    These are hardly “accessible” watches price wise even for a reasonably affluent Englishman.

    I am curious to know how much these steel versions actually cost to make, and see if it bears any relation to the selling price.

    Like many more enlightened observers, “brand” might carry a hefty premium, but it has little or nothing to do with “quality”.

    Reply
  8. This is not a classic in-house movement it is a sandwich type of movement:

    Movement is essentially an AP 3120 self-winding caliber as found in the 15400 with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module sandwiched on top. This makes the Offshore, inherently, a thicker watch, and less desirable to the purists out there.

    Reply
  9. Lone Wolf

    Accessible, my tanned and toned arse. Your definition of the word is about as different from most as is AP from Timex.

    Reply
    • Steve

      Couldn’t have said it better.

      Now, if I were a billionaire, these would certainly be “affordable”. Heck, If I had Mitt Romney’s money they would be affordable.

      But the above are all in the top 1/2 of 1% of the population and that leaves 99.5% of the population for which these are hardly “affordable”.

      Especially considering that they’ll lose a lot of their value rather quickly, unlike a Rolex or a Patek.

      Reply
    • ExplEngineer

      I have to concur. While there is much that can be (and has been here) said about AP, the absence of any form of precious metal, other than a tiny internal part, in a watch that retails for >$25,000 US is, IMNSHO quite ridiculous. Yes, I understand that there are x00 hrs. spent in the manufacture of these watches, but the pricing seems more a matter of ego (AP’s) & a market that swallow it up. An excellent watch deserves a case and materials commensurate with the cost of the watch, if for no other reason than the use of such materials in form “guarantees” the owner of an intrinsic “jewelry” value of the watch should a nasty scandal, or perhaps even a brothel proprietor in NV be found to own and wear one to time his clients, etc. Case on point, look at the history of the Rolls Royce Motor Car LTD., and no, when we are talking about watches in the ~$30,000+ US range that is not an inappropriate comparison, This company produced two virtually identical automobiles (aka “motor cars”) differentiated most significantly by the external “Radiator Shield”, I am fortunate enough to own an example of one of these motor cars, the RR Silver Cloud III. Rather than to bore anyone with details, simply go any standard valuation or appraisal guide and look up the value of this car verses its Bentley counterpart. Jewelry grade watches are not that different as one may conclude by looking into any Rolex catalog and noting the difference in value, admittedly somewhat exaggerated given the relative prices of the materials involved and the quantity utilized in each watch. In the end, when watches reach into this pricing range a purchase should expect them to not only be an “engineering marvel. but one that has the inherent value in the non-performing components, e.g. the case, etc. to fully support what is for the most part an ego-driven market. I a reminded of the time that I actually had the opportunity to get an appointment in the Rolex corporate building after many complaints about the fact that even after its 3rd trip back to Rolex it still could not even meet the one (1) minute a month threshold presented. After the meeting, and as I was walking out the door with another promise that its accuracy would improve or it would be replaced with a new watch that had been tested at their production facility before being sent out to me. The almost ritually polite individual could not resist one final commentary, that “in purchasing a Rolex, one buys the art and beauty of its design as much as for its purpose as a timepiece, the level of accuracy that (I) was expecting was more likely to be achieved by an electronic Timex watch that I could readily find in any Walmart. At least he did not tell me that the problem was that if I had not been so ‘cheap’ as to by the gold and stainless steel mode, and had just spent the ‘small’ price penalty for a solid 18k Au case, the presence of the precious metal would have make the watch run more accurately.

      Reply
  10. precisionswisstime

    Hello again George from precision swiss time for the watch collector I don’t think the price it makes big difference if you love watches and appreciate the work of art it’s fine with me I don’t mind that

    Reply
  11. John Carey

    I don’t know many “new” collectors who are going to drop $17,000 on a “first” watch.

    Reply
    • It would be interesting to know what percentage of Watch Time readers can actually afford these VERY EXPENSIVE watches. Does WT really think that these are entry level watches? Makes me want to stop reading the blog and cancel my subscription to the mag.

      Reply
  12. precisionswisstime

    What a watch I like the movement the elegance and the idea of ownership of this time piece I think this is the best model made by APGeorge from Sydney Australia

    Reply
  13. Accessible with prices from 19.000 to 33.000 us $ each ??? For that money you can buy a good collection of 5-6 watches and not just one!!!! Then we wonder why all those faked ones are in the market worldwide!!

    Reply
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