It’s been exactly 64 days since I first held the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold, and it’s now been exactly 64 days of me missing it. This watch is everything I want and more. It’s sporty, cool, classic, sparkly, too much, too little, and, most of all, I need it. Like, a lot. But before getting into my effusive feelings on this beauty, let’s get into the story behind this awesome timepiece and how it came to be in the first place.
Where Did This Watch Come From?
If you are an avid reader of HODINKEE, you likely know the history of the Royal Oak like back of your wrist. In any case, here is a quick refresher.
The Royal Oak was designed by now-legendary watch designer Gerald Genta in 1971. It shot to super-stardom over the years and was released in many different variations and references (the 5402, 14802, 15400, and 15202, to name a few) continuously from then until now. The watch has always been known for it’s sporty octagonal case shape, substantial link bracelet, and grande tapisserie dial. It is an icon and even if you don’t like it, you kind of have to respect its status in the horological hall of fame.
At this year’s SIHH, we saw a lot of new Royal Oak releases, including the new Royal Oak Extra-Thin "Jumbo" reference 15202 in yellow gold, the black ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, and even the Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin Openworked in stainless steel (oof). But the highlight for me was the Royal Oak Frosted Gold. This thing was seriously dope and I mean that in the least precocious way possible.
What The Heck Is ‘Frosted Gold’ Anyway?
"Frosted Gold" is like the extra pizza topping you never knew you needed. Sure, that pepperoni pizza is good, but have you tried it with hot honey? Nah, didn’t think so. Frosted Gold is just like that.
First thing’s first, this watch was created to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the first ladies’ Royal Oak designed by Jacqueline Dimier in 1976 (technically the Frosted Gold was released in 2016, even if it wasn’t available to view until SIHH). It was a pretty big deal at the time because most women’s watches weren’t that sporty and Dimier’s design was true to the men’s Royal Oak but with some slight changes to size and aesthetics.
A similar approach was taken for the new Frosted Gold pieces. Audemars Piguet partnered with Florentine jeweler Carolina Bucci to collaborate on this anniversary piece. Bucci is known for her bold jewelry pieces that often have a hammered finish. This process is call the Florentine Technique and it involves a diamond-tipped, needle-like tool that hammers into the surface of gold, creating tiny facets. This allows for an almost diamond-like appearance that shimmers and is rough to the touch.
For the Frosted Gold Royal Oaks, the Florentine Technique was applied to the surface of the entire watch. The prototypes were all done by hand to create the right finish and the process took over a year to perfect. However it should be noted that the collection will be frosted by a machine that mimics the technique with additional elements finished by hand (like the beveling, for example). Creating the prototype and the final product was quite a challenge, as the technique is applied to the entire case, each bracelet link, and the bezel, to create a seamless look. And boy is it a look.
The only surfaces not frosted are the inside of the bracelet, the "AP" logo on the clasp, the caseback, the edge of the bezel, and, importantly, the edges of the bracelet links. Those polished finishes actually make the frosting appear even more dramatic, outlining it and saying "check this out."
In The Metal
In the metal, this watch is insane. It is available in two colors of gold, rose and white, and two sizes, 33mm and 37mm. Production will be limited but not held to a strict number. The two you see here are the 37mm examples in rose and white gold. The 33mm is also great, but the movement is a quartz movement (the caliber 2713); not to mention, the 37mm is the sweet spot for almost everyone and it runs on the trusty automatic caliber 3120. But, let’s get real, this watch is about the frosted gold and nothing else. For me, I like the white gold as it looks more like diamonds – from a few feet away it’s nearly indistinguishable from a full pavé watch – but the rose gold is just as beautiful if you want a softer look.
Both the white and rose gold models feature the grande tapisserie dials, with rhodium-toned and silvered finishes respectively. Each feature a small date aperture at three o’clock and both have center seconds too. The indexes are thin and elongated and add a nice balance to the dial. The only thing that bugs me is the floating "Swiss Made" at the base of the dial – why can’t it just be a little lower? But that’s really the only thing that bothers me, which is saying something here.
On the wrist this watch is a dream. Sure it’s a little heavy (I can’t say exactly how much it weighs, as Audemars Piguet declined to comment on that), but if you’re worried about weight then you probably shouldn’t be buying a solid gold watch on a solid gold bracelet. Duh. The weird thing about this watch is even though the Frosted Gold seems like a lot at first, when you put it on it feels surprisingly…understated? It sounds counter-intuitive, but a number of my HODINKEE colleagues (guys and gals) agree. Just ask Stephen what he thinks of it – he’s as obsessed as I am. Whether you are a guy or gal, this watch looks damn good on pretty much anyone.
You can probably tell that I’m pretty into the Frosted Gold Royal Oak. My thoughts here are much closer to a love poem than a review. For me, this watch is the perfect embodiment of sporty glamor that is not only fun to wear but also has an impressive story behind it. The Florentine Technique is truly remarkable and something that we’ve never gotten before on a timepiece like this. Audemars Piguet has once again created a product a step ahead of the rest all while maintaining the core aesthetics of the brand.
I hope that one day I can own one of these watches, but I am going to have to start eating a lot of ramen. The 37mm in rose gold is priced at $51,400, with the white gold priced at $56,900. For the 33mm versions, you’re looking at $41,500 and $47,500, respectively.
For more information, visit Audemars Piguet online.