Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 14790BA - NOS/Unworn - Full set from 1998
One variable trait of vintage and neo-vintage watches that's hailed above all is condition. It's the difference between a good watch and a great one, with 'new old stock' representing the zenith of desirability. Purchased in 1998 by its original owner and having spent 23 years untouched in a safe before a movement-only service by AP in 2021, this 14790BA is presented today in true new old stock (or NOS) condition. With the 'BA' indicating its rendering in 18k yellow gold, this is just about as good as it gets, with each side of the emblematic octagonal bezel, tonneau case, and eternally contemporary integrated bracelet still displaying the deep, factory vertical brushing throughout. The flawless finish flows from the bezel to the case, and the whole length of the bracelet, only pausing for polished accents on the chamfer and the eight bezel screws. This enduring example and its remarkable condition is a testament to the meticulous refinement achieved by Audemars Piguet.
With the Royal Oak, much of the conversation is centred around the case and bracelet for its revolutionary advent, but the dial harbours just as much interest and nuance throughout the full spectrum of references. With this particular 14790BA, we have a matching yellow-gold series two dial and date aperture at three. Not as rare as the series one and more desirable than the modern series three, these dials offer updates with tweaks to the typography and very subtle changes to the hands and baton marker thicknesses. Nevertheless, the golden colouring throughout the entire dial is made all the more charming by the colour the luminous material has turned in the hands and markers.
This is arguably the most lustrous case and dial pairing for the more compact Royal Oak package in a superlative like-new condition. The pictures speak a thousand words.
Powering this outstanding 14790BA is AP calibre 2125. This automatic movement has a 21,600 vph beat rate, 21k gold weight on the rotor, 33 jewels, and 40 hours of running time. Based on the Jaeger LeCoultre 888 ébauche, the movement is also adjusted to five positions and measures 3.5mm, contributing significantly to the piece's overt thinness.
How It Wears
Measuring 36mm in width, you may be forgiven for assuming this 14790BA Royal Oak is small, dainty, and lacking in wrist presence. The reality is quite different. Of course, it does take up a smaller amount of wrist real estate than the more prominent 'Jumbo', but its measurement on paper doesn't tell the whole story, as the integration with the bracelet, the striking nature of the bezel, and the tonal pairing with the dial effectively accentuates its commanding presence. The 14790BA is undoubtedly a loud piece, but an easy-to-wear nature juxtaposes it, and due to the condition of this example, you'll be one of only a few to have ever slipped it on the wrist.
This 14790BA is a rarity being offered today in like new, 'new old stock' condition. The watch shows no signs of wear throughout the entire case, bezel, clasps, and tight bracelet. In 2021, the watch visited Audemars Piguet for mechanical service only and comes with the AP service card, along with the original inner and outer box, papers, and certificate of origine and guarantee.
Singlehandedly the backbone of Audemars Piguet's serially produced watches, the reign of the Royal Oak is why the luxury sports watch landscape is the way it is. The story of its inception is well documented, with Gerald Genta being asked by the brand in 1972 to design a "steel sports watch that has never been done before. Something totally new and waterproof." As if the task wasn't big enough, Georges Golay, AP's CEO at the time, famously gave Genta only 24 hours to deliver his design. Having already successfully worked with Omega and Universal Geneve, Genta was building a name for himself, but the impact of his work with AP would outweigh everything. His swiftly drafted porthole-inspired watch would become one of the most significant ever created, marking the catalyst that transitioned steel into luxury.
Initially launched as a 'Jumbo' at 39mm, the following decades saw the development of the Royal Oak in tandem with its popularity. But despite the success of the 39mm, the watch was still considered oversized at the time (a point which adds even more kudos to its success), with demand for smaller watches remaining high. Audemars Piguet began experimenting with different interpretations of a smaller RO starting in 1978, but it wasn't until 1992 and reference 14790 that the execution was nailed. Across many case metals from stainless steel to the three golds, platinum, tantalum, and two-tones, the number of variations the 14790 has is vast. There are three defined series, each with meaningful differences that predominantly reside with their dials. Production of the 14790 stopped in 2005, making it the longest-running mid-sized Royal Oak so far. However, this has only worked to elevate the desirability of early models, specifically the first and second series examples.
If you desire to take a closer look at this precious timepiece, don't hesitate to contact us and make an appointment. We are based in Ghent, Belgium
No stock kept on site
* Every watch is delivered in a Mr WATCHLEY Membrane Protection Box for a safe transportation in addition to its original set *
|Yellow gold AP bracelet
|UNWORN - NEW - NOS
|Yes + AP Service card from 2021