How much does an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Cost?
The iconic shape of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has represented an epic event in horology, changing it forever. And the author of this transformation was the most excellent watch designer of all times, Gerald Genta, the mastermind behind some other iconic timepieces such as the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the IWC Ingenieur.
Genta was the first to introduce the modern concept of using stainless steel into haute horology at the beginning of the 1970s, creating the luxury sports watch category and its signature trend of watches with integrated metallic bracelets.
The very first watch of this kind that he designed was the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, a big (for the era) and masculine timepiece with two hands and the date. To cut a long story short, historically, the Royal Oak had a slow start. Still, it eventually became a design icon — so much that Patek Philippe commissioned to the same Genta a similar timepiece a few years after the launch of the Royal Oak: the Nautilus.
The Royal Oak has changed little in design through the last fifty years, with its characteristic octagonal bezel secured by eight hexagonal screws. It became the signature model of the Swiss Watchmaker, and it was developed by Audemars Piguet to adapt it to the current needs of its customers.
This is how the Chronograph models of the Royal Oak — among the most sought after versions of the timepiece — came to be.
Like all versions of this iconic timepiece, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph is surprisingly thin, so it represents a perfect choice for an “all-rounder.” It slips easily under any shirt cuff, so it is ideal for business attire and even formal events. Still, it is sturdy enough to complement an active lifestyle in polo and jeans, down to the swimming trunks, and also involving some moderate diving activities.
Technical details of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
The original version of the Royal Oak, launched in 1972, was the so-called “Jumbo” with its 39 mm diameter, and the first chronographs used this kind of case. From 2012, the watch was redesigned, with the case growing to 41 mm, and 44 mm for the complicated versions. There is also a recently introduced version in a more compact 38 mm size.
The angular design of the porthole-shaped bezel has been retained in all of the elements: the screw-down push-pieces for the chronographic controls and the screw-down crown are both six-sided.
While the original model of the Royal Oak was in stainless steel only, through the years, the company has developed versions in precious metals like yellow, white, rose gold and platinum, and advanced technical materials like titanium, ceramic, and carbon.
The Royal Oak Chronograph mounts two kinds of calibers: the “regular” automatic 2385 or the tourbillon-based manual-winding 2936.
The caliber 2385 is based on the 1185 design by Frederic Piguet, the company designing high-end movements for Blancpain.
It has a column-wheel design and a thickness of only 5.5 mm, with a 40-hour power reserve, and is one of the flattest automatic chronographic calibers ever made in horological history.
The caliber 2889 is instead a manually-wound movement and mounts a tourbillon.
References and prices of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
This splendid chronograph has been developed in several versions through its history, some of which are no longer in production. What follows is a complete list of the different manufactured versions, accompanied by essential notes about the various references.
The current prices (as of the last quarter of 2020) are approximate and based on asking price for second-wrist models derived from popular online watch marketplaces.
Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 25960–39 mm, Cal. 2385 (Also 25966/25967/25978)
This version features a white, yellow, or rose gold case and bracelet with the typical white, grey, blue, black, or salmon grande tapisserie dial. Some versions have a leather wristband instead of the bracelet.
The leather-based Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 25960s start from around $23,000, while the ones with a bracelet add $20,000 to this sum.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 25966 has a white gold bracelet, a white dial, and a bezel studded with diamonds. It starts at around $60,000.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 25967 is similar to the 25966, but in this case, the whole case and bracelet are studded with diamonds. It starts at around $100,000.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 25978 represents the top end of this line, and in addition, it mounts a diamond-studded dial with light blue subdials. It starts at around $130,000.
Royal Oak Chronograph Ref.26022–39 mm, Cal. 2385 (Also 26068)
This version features a white, yellow, or rose gold case and a leather wristband in various colors with the typical white or salmon grande tapisserie dial.
This reference typically starts from around $25,000, while the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26068 has a diamond-studded dial and case and starts from approximately $50,000.
Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26129–39 mm, Cal. 2385 (Also 26161)
This version features a chocolate grande tapisserie dial and a pink gold case and bezel studded with diamonds and worn on a matching rubber or leather wristband.
This reference typically starts from around $100,000. At the same time, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26161 is similar, with the dial of a lighter shade of brown and white sub-dials, and plain gold case and bezel. It is also cheaper, at around $32,000.
Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26300 (2012-present) — 39 mm, Cal. 2385
This model represents the typical stainless steel reference of this gorgeous timepiece. It comes with an integrated bracelet and different dial colors and styles, based on the original grande tapisserie texture. It starts at around $22,000.
Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26320 (2012-present) — 41 mm, Cal. 2385 (Also 26322/26325/26326/26327)
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26320, with its 41 mm diameter, is the big brother of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26300 and comes in many variations of dials, materials, and wristbands or bracelets.
The stainless steel versions with matching bracelets start from around $28,000. The gold-cased versions with a leather or rubber wristband begin from about $36,000.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26322 is a gold case reference with a matching gold bracelet and dial studded with diamonds. It starts at around $125,000.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26325, also known as Leo Messi, is a sporty-looking version with a steel or pink gold case, a dark (blue, grey or brown) dial, and a steel or tantalum bezel, worn over a leather or rubber wristband. It starts from around $33,000 for the steel version to rise to $43,000 for the gold and tantalum version.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26326 is also called Pride of Italy and has a steel case and white dial with dark azure outer track and subdials. It comes either with the stainless steel bracelet or a dark azure wristband and starts from around $35,000.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26327 is known as the QE II Cup. It has a titanium case, white dial with grey subdials, and a matching grey wristband. It starts at around $38,000.
Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26315 (2019-present) — 38 mm, Cal. 2385
This is the more compact version of this iconic watch. It has a 38 mm case and is available in many different models and dial colors. The “basic” reference has a stainless steel case and bracelet and displays a grey dial with white subdials. It starts at around $29,000. A version with a dial similar to the Pride of Italy sells for approximately $34,000. The pink gold versions with white dial start from about $50,000.
Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26557–39 mm, Cal. 2385
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26557 is the smaller-sized version of the Leo Messi, offering similar characteristics of its larger sibling, such as the gold case studded with diamonds on a brown or white dial. Expect to pay around $40,000 to secure one.
Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Ref. 25977–44 mm, Cal. 2889 (Also 26039/26116/26377)
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 25977 reference displays its tourbillon at six o’clock. It is available in steel or gold case versions, with different dials and bracelets. It starts from around $90,000 for either case material.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26039 is the white gold version of this timepiece. It comes with a matching gold bracelet and a bezel and dial studded with diamonds. Its price starts at a bit less than $200,000.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26116 is in white gold case and bezel, all studded with diamonds. The dial is paved with diamonds as well, except for the three mother-of-pearl subdials. It is worn on a leather wristband, and you’d find one starting at around $350,000.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26377 is a sporty-looking tourbillon watch with a steel case and a novel steel bezel coated with black rubber, the same material of the wristband. It is available from around $80,000.
Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26331–41 mm, Cal. 2385
The reference Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26331 offers many models and colors. It starts with the iconic steel models with matching bracelets at around $34,000. The pink gold versions with a rubber or leather strap begin at about $40,000. The version in titanium starts from approximately $50,000, while the gold versions with a matching bracelet begin at around $65,000. The frosted white gold versions start at roughly $100,000, with the top of the range represented by the white frosted gold version with purple dial at $125,000.
Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Ref. 26343–44 mm, Cal. 2936 (Also 26347)
This black ceramic version of the Royal Oak has a sporty look, with a semi-skeletonized carbon dial and matte ceramic bracelet. It averages around the $270,000 mark.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26347 is the open-worked version of the tourbillon-based 2936 chronograph caliber. It is available in titanium or pink gold with a matching bracelet or wristband. It starts at around $200,000.