Discreet Comfort: The Ultimate Luxury

Discreet Comfort: The Ultimate Luxury

- by Arthur Touchot

This following article first appeared in the Private White V.C. Journal.

PHILLIPS will be hosting two watch auctions in Geneva this May: The Royal Oak 50th, a thematic sale of 87 collectible Royal Oak models, and The Geneva Watch Auction XV, featuring around 200 of the most sought‐after vintage and modern watches.

What is striking about the watches being offered, besides their price, is their diversity in terms of style, eras and brand names. But despite their aesthetic differences, many of watches share historical connections, including two very rare offerings: an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 25820 and a limited edition BVLGARI Octo Finissimo.

On the surface these two watches appear to be worlds apart. They were not made by the same company, or in the same metal, and their movements are incredibly different. One features a perpetual calendar with moon‐phase and leap year indication, a high‐end complication which Audemars Piguet dared, in 1995, to combine with the Royal Oak.

Lot 65 of the Royal Oak 50th: an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 25820

The other features one of the world’s thinnest automatic movements, an achievement usually pursued by watch companies making elegant dress watches, but introduced in 2017 by BVLGARI in the Octo Finissimo. What these watches share is a mutual interest in the juxtaposition of high‐end mechanisms and non‐precious materials. Both the Royal Oak and the Octo Finissimo are sports watches, and more importantly, both watches are interested in creating and playing with contrast.

Lot 202 of the Geneva Watch Auction XV: The Bulgari Octo Finissimo made for the band's Middle Eastern market.

The Royal Oak and the Octo Finissimo also share a spiritual bond: they are both evolutions of designs created by Gerald Genta, the man responsible re‐defining luxury in watchmaking in 1970’s, first with the Royal Oak, followed by the (Patek Philippe) Nautilus and other stainless-steel sports watches.

Today these watches represent the epitome in watch collecting, especially with younger collectors who have grown up with a very distinct style and appreciation of luxury. These are watches that wear very well casually, with a pair of sneakers, jeans or relaxed trousers and a hoodie, clothes that do not particularly draw too much attention.

But of course, when you care a bit about how your watches are made, you tend to feel the same way about your clothes and pursue products that are handcrafted using the highest quality materials, cloths and yarns. Take the Private White V.C. Eden Hoodie, for example, which elevates a popular streetwear item with fine, intricate details such as the silk embroidered PWVC logo on the chest.

We challenged PHILLIPS to select a few collectible watches and pair them with outfits from the PWVC Spring ’22 collection, based on practicality and comfort.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 25820

Designed by Gerald Genta in the early 1970s, the original Royal Oak presented a revolutionary form language, with an integrated bracelet in stainless steel, apparent screws on the bezel, and an intricate play between polished and brushed surfaces of the metal. Over time, Audemars Piguet experimented liberally with this design, presenting different metal combinations, dial treatments, and movements, without ever touching the watch’s iconic profile.

Made in 1995, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 25820 introduced a leap year indicator to the family’s most complicated model, the perpetual calendar, but still in the Royal Oak’s distinctive and traditional form. Made in stainless steel and platinum, the present example features the Royal Oak’s thin and comfortable 39mm case. But what makes it even more rare is the seldom seen black dial and mirror‐polished platinum bezel.

Worn With: The highly versatile Moleskin Bomber in navy, has been designed with the same traditional spirit with a contemporary super-soft brushed cotton moleskin. It completes the look elegantly and is a great complement to the polished platinum. Also pictured is the Concealed B.D Shirt and Drawstring Relaxed Trousers.

The Octo Finissimo – Middle East Edition

The Octo Finissimo is a watch that took longer to come to fruition. Following the introduction of the Royal Oak, the Nautilus and other iconic sports models, Gerald Genta launched his own, eponymous brand, in 1994, embarking on a journey to realize his wildest ideas including his Grande Sonnerie retro was the world’s most complicated wristwatch.

Gerald Genta never presented the Octo Finissimo himself but the design of the watch is one of the many which BVLGARI inherited when the company acquired Genta’s. The luxury giant saw the potential of the design, entrusted it to its star designer Fabrizio Buonamassa for a touch of Italian flair, and finally launched the model in 2017. It has since inspired a series of very cool limited editions, including this dial variation for its Middle Eastern retail network, as well as collaborations with Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

By experimenting – a la Royal Oak – with special dials and by creating scarcity within the collection, BVLGARI has developed a new “collectible” luxury sports watch, the first born in the 21st century.

Worn with: The lightweight Ventile® Piccadilly Shacket, made from the world’s most sophisticated cotton, seen here in olive matches the colour of the Middle‐Eastern Arabic numerals. The Ventile® Piccadilly Shacket is an extremely versatile item, to be worn in warmer climates or used for layering in between seasons. Also pictured is the Ventile® Piccadilly Shacket, The Private Tee and Tenue. Lenny Coyote Jeans.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 14802

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak, in 1992, Audemars Piguet introduced the Ref. 14802. Presenting the same proportions and profile as the original Royal Oak from 1972, the Ref. 14802 introduced a number of dial variations – including the model’s first salmon coloured dial ‐ as well as a sapphire display caseback to honour its movement.

Sold between 1992 and 2002, 691 examples were produced in steel, 286 in yellow gold, along with 20 in platinum. The present watch is one of the 20, although you can only tell how special it is up close.

It features the sought‐after “Tuscan” dial, one of two dial variations offered with the platinum model. This extremely beautiful dial gives the watch a completely different character to the Royal Oak, which typically features a “tapisserie” dial.

Worn With: Proving even the most desired pieces can be worn casually and staying in tune with the catalogue’s spring theme, we paired The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 14802 with The Eden Hoodie. The Tenue. Lenny Coyote Jeans complements the look – a traditional 4 pocket jean design fabricated using deep blue vintage denim. Also pictured is The Private Tee.

Our sincere thanks to Private White V.C. for lending it's latest collection of Great British luxury clothing for photography used in The Geneva Watch Auction XV and Royal Oak 50th online catalogues.

Model (in order of appearance): Apollon, Bilenga
Modelling agency: POP - People of Publicity
Photographer: Clément Rousset