AP Chronograph History
Since its introduction in 1997 (Reference 25860ST), the Chronograph continues to be one of the most important complications in the Royal Oak family. It is to mention, that the first Royal Oak to carry a chronograph function was in fact the first Offshore model in 1993. It took Audemars Piguet 4 years to adopt this complication into the much thinner Royal Oak. Today, the chronograph is no stranger to AP’s Royal Oak product line. The recently introduced Audemars Piguet Royal Chronograph 26239OR is one of my personal favorite iteration of modern chronographs.
New In-House Movement
It is no wonder that Audemars Piguet’s 2021 chronograph comes with a new caliber inside the 18-carat rose gold case. Originally the new in-house, integrated flyback chronograph movement was developed for Code 11.59, but is now used as well in the Royal Oak Family. Flyback chronograph means, when the flyback button is pressed, the second hand flies back to zero and instantly starts counting again without stopping or resetting the chronograph.
AP didn’t disappoint us this time and for the first time, the Royal Oak Chronograph has been fitted with a sapphire case back allowing us to see the new caliber 4401 working. The latter consist of 367 pieces and beats at a frequency of 4Hz (28.800vph). When fully wound the it offers up to 70 hours of power reserve. The resistance of the watch to water pressure is 50 meters.
Diameter of the Audemars Piguet Royal Chronograph 26239OR remained unchanged at 41mm. But unfortunately, the height of the case slightly increased to 12.4 mm in comparison 11 mm for the older reference.
New Dial Layout
However, the new calibre 4401 and the thickness is not the only things that were changed. In comparison to the old reference 26331OR, the new chronograph has a date window that is positioned closer to the edge of the dial. Another notable change is the size of the subdials. All of them are now equally sized, which was not the case with the previous chronograph references. Also, the Geneva watch brand decided to swap the position of the minute and hour subdials.
Of course, the Royal Oak kept its “Grande Tapisserie” motif and is accompanied by 18K rose gold hands and markers with luminescent coating.
Availability & Price
For now, the introduction of the new calibre 4401 in the Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph is only done in 18k pink gold cases. Without any doubt the stainless editions will follow soon. Two dial options are available, executed in blue or brown hues. The new models are completed with an 18K rose gold bracelet or a crocodile leather strap matching the dial color. We decided to feature reference 26331OR.OO.D821CR.01 in our pictures as the stunning iteration of brown dial and hand stitched brown alligator leather strap with 18k rose gold AP folding clasp.
Current retail price for this reference is 42’200 CHF (61’100 CHF for the option with rose gold bracelet) but current market price is around 70’000 CHF (respectively 105’000 CHF with gold bracelet). As a big Audemars Piguet fan, I can tell you this piece looks mesmerizing in person and is true masterpiece by the Swiss watch manufacturer. I really can’t wait to see the updated steel version very soon.
Royal Oak Chronograph Automatic Ref. 26239OR.OO.D821CR.01
Official retail price is at 42’200 CHF but current market price is around 70’000 CHF.
No official limitation
Diameter: 41 mm; height 12.4 mm
When to wear:
The watch is a perfect match with any smart casual outfit or even a sportier look in jeans. The chronograph complication allows you to wear the watch at leisure activity but at the same time the pink gold case looks elegant and classy.
What we love about the watch:
My personal highlight is the case back of the watch. For the first time in Audemars Piguet’s history the wearer is granted views of the 22K pink gold oscillating weight and refined finishing of a chronograph Royal Oak.
Photography: Yves Müller, www.visiuns.com for The Collectors Circle www.thecollectorscircle.com