Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph 26022BC - Salmon dial
Making up one-third of the appropriately nicknamed ‘Holy Trinity’, Audemars Piguet exists in the upper echelon of horology with a history dating back to 1875. During the late 19th century, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet were two watchmakers operating independently of each other in Switzerland. The pair decided they were stronger together and in 1875 joined forces. In 1892, Audemars Piguet & Cie created the very first minute repeater watch and just seven years later they debuted the “Grand Complication” pocket watch. With a staggering 11 complications, it’s fair to say the watch helped the brand gain a well-respected reputation.
Navigating the 20th century brought with it plenty of success for the brand. As Audemars Piguet name was passed down a generation, they went on to enjoy incredible success via their impactful innovations all the way up to the 1960s. We’re talking the thinnest pocket watch movement, the first skeletonised pocket watch, ultra-thin watches (with the help of Jaeger LeCoultre), and even a number of perpetual calendars during the 1950s.
It wasn’t all positive news however, as during the late 1960s - early 1970s sales had slowed down. Their quest for originality and constant desire to push boundaries became vital traits if they were to survive. Around this time a Swiss-born designer known as Gérald Genta partnered with the brand to create yet another first: the first luxury sports watch made from stainless steel.
Told by the man himself, the Managing Director of Audemars Piguet, rang up Genta and gave him 24 hours to design ‘a steel sports watch that has never been done before. Something totally new and waterproof.’ 24 hours later the design was complete and in 1972, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was revealed to the world.
Despite the wave of negativity and general optimism from senior members of the industry, the Royal Oak thrived and quite simply paved the way for stainless steel watches to be recognised as a luxury item. In the coming years, many of the major watch brands followed suit and released their own luxury steel sports watch. It was clear that yet again Audemars Piguet was a true innovator. In fact, the ‘big bang’ effect of the Royal Oak’s release as a luxury steel sports watch is arguably still being felt today.
The Royal Oak saved Audemars Piguet during a traumatic time for the Swiss watch industry and since then has remained an unmovable pillar in their catalogue. High complications, unique case materials, an expanding range of sizes as well as gem-set examples have all made their way into the iconic Royal Oak case. The archetypal design language of the watch has also influenced the rest of the Audemars Piguet range with collections such as the Royal Oak Concept and even the CODE 11.59 interpreting its legendary design.
Oh, and you’ll be pleased to learn that Audemars Piguet remains family-owned to this day.
More often than not when a Royal Oak reference 26022BC is made available on the market it’s fitted with either a white or a blue dial. These fantastic dial variations cover the bases well as the white dial giving the watch a vivid, youthfully appearance with the blue being a nice callback to the original Royal Oak from the 1970s. However, this 26022BC is fitted with a stunning salmon dial authorised and completed by Audemars Piguet themselves. This example is a one owner piece that was purchased directly from Audemars Piguet in 2004. As the official papers state, this watch was originally fitted with a white dial, however, the original owner was given the opportunity by Audemars Piguet to swap the dial out to a salmon one. Nowadays this sort of behaviour from a watchmaker would make headline news, however during the 1990s and early 2000s it was very much common practice. Actually all 26022BC with a salmon dial were originally another dial color. The 26022BC only existed in a white or blue dial.
The salmon dial gives the 26022BC a charming, unique personality. Salmon dials are a cult favourite among many connoisseurs due to their remarkable elegance, playful style and special appearance. The watch itself is a mid-sized Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet measuring 39mm in width with brushed and polished finishing throughout. Complete in white gold, this particular watch seamlessly blends two aspects of the Audemars Piguet DNA: the Royal Oak (naturally), and its old school, quintessential take on luxury with its use of a precious metal. It’s not just the colour of the dial that makes this watch, but also its square hour markers, 4:30 date window, tapisserie dial pattern and three register chronograph configuration. There’s a greater sense of usability on offer with this 26022BC, and yet the watch remains abundantly elegant.
Ensuring there is a correct amount of contrast on this watch, the chronograph hand and three sub-dials hands are all darkened to match the markings across the dial. The words ‘Audemars Piguet Automatic’ are neatly framed at the 12 o’clock position, sitting just below the highly polished AP logo. Combine these dial details with the metal surrounds for the sub-dials, its modern seconds track, and multi-faceted lumed hour markers and the end result is a watch with gorgeous amounts of depth and attention to detail at every angle.
The icing on top of the cake is its its original and stunning ‘AP’ folding buckle are also included, complete in white gold.
Powering this Royal Oak Chronograph is the in house calibre AP 2385. This automatic, column-wheel operated chronograph movement from Audemars Piguet vibrates at 21,600 vph with 40 hours of power reserve and no less than 37 jewels. This is a tried and tested luxury movement that has found its way into a huge amount of Royal Oak chronographs over the years.
How It Wears
This is a special thing of beauty on the wrist. The Royal Oak has a distinctive presence on the wrist thanks to that instantly recognisable design language, meaning its 39mm width is an appropriate size for such an icon. Thanks to its brand new official Audemars Piguet brown leather watch strap, the salmon dial is complemented perfectly, coherantly emphasising this watch and its special dial. This Royal Oak Chronograph provides reassuring warmth and an old school appearance via its salmon dial and use of white gold over stainless steel. Its robustness and allure make this special Royal Oak a perfect watch to reach for as the cooler seasons roll in.
This Royal Oak Chronograph 26022BC is in like-new condition thanks to Audemars Piguet recently servicing the watch in January 2021. The watch has remained unworn since the official service. The watch comes with an extract from the Audemars Piguet archive, original box and service papers. A brand new Audemars Piguet leather strap has been fitted to the watch as well as the original white gold ‘AP’ folding buckle.
If you desire to take a closer look at this precious timepiece, don't hesitate to contact us and make an appointment.
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|Size (Case)||39 mm|
|Material (Case)||White gold|
|Bracelet||New AP Crocodile strap|
|Papers||Extract from archive|