Audemars Piguet - The Royal Oak 50th Geneva Friday, May 6, 2022 | Phillips

    • Manufacturer: Audemars Piguet
      Year: 1985
      Reference No: 5554ST
      Movement No: 273'841
      Case No: D1495.046.B29282
      Model Name: Royal Oak Perpetual calendar, "Triple Serial"
      Material: Stainless Steel
      Calibre: Automatic, cal. 2120/2800, 38 jewels
      Bracelet/Strap: Stainless Steel Audemars Piguet bracelet, max length 170mm
      Clasp/Buckle: Stainless Steel Audemars Piguet deployant clasp
      Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
      Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed
      Accessories: Accompanied by Audemars Piguet and Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo co-signed Royal Oak 50th Anniversary Attestation and furthermore delivered with Audemars Piguet Extract from the Archives dated January 13, 2020 confirming production of the present watch on December 5, 1985

    • Catalogue Essay

      Every legend has a beginning, and this is the beginning not only for the Royal Oak perpetual calendar, but for the entire category of non-chronograph complicated sport watches as a whole: until then, sports timepieces would only feature date and in some instances a chronograph. To incorporate a “dress complication” in a timepiece was truly a momentous step forward for the entire industry which reverberates to today.

      In fact, the “luxury sports watch” concept itself was in the 1980s only a decade old (as the present theme sale reminds us), and not remotely as well-established as today. To add a complication - and not a minor one but a perpetual calendar - to a sport watch was at the time nearly as groundbreaking as the first Royal Oak had been in 1972. Given the technical complexities of both movement and of creating a waterproof case with the necessary pushers, these watches were very costly which, together with a market not completely ready for such a product, meant production was very low.

      Released in 1984, reference 5554 (later 25554), was indeed the first perpetual calendar sports watch by any brand, powered by the famous workhorse caliber 2120/2800.
      A textbook example of early production, this example is a gold mine for the connoisseur of early complicated Royal Oak timepieces. As expected it does not feature a leap year indication on the dial (such feature would be introduced in 1993 with cal. 2120/2802), and sports the charming small Audemars Piguet signature.

      Additionally, the Archives confirm that this is reference 5554, thus a very early example of the model. In the mid 1980s Audemars Piguet switched to a 5-digits reference system, renaming the present model reference 25554.
      Finally, the details of its case offer an interesting insight into the semi-artisanal production procedures of the company at the time. In fact the watch does not only bear the usual 2 case numbers (in this instance: D1495 and 046) found on Royal Oak pieces, but it actually has a third case number stamped to the inside of the back: B29282. When checking with the Archives, the match occurs between the “hidden” B29282 case number and the movement number. As explained by Audemars Piguet, this is because some late 5402 cases were modified and repurposed for ref. 5554, but the “original” case number intended for ref. 5402 was left on the outside, this being one of such incredibly interesting and rare timepieces.
      This unusual case genesis not only provides intellectual intrigue, but furthermore grants to the watch a technical detail which sets it apart from any and all models that came after it: it is the thinnest perpetual calendar Royal Oak reference ever created, with a thickness of only 7.5mm. In subsequent ref. 25654 the case thickness is a substantial 0.75mm (10%!) greater: 8.25mm. It goes without saying that such slimness translates in a more suave wrist experience, making it a true pity that only 49 people on this planet (at most) are able to enjoy it.

      Indeed, research shows that exactly 49 examples of this model were produced in steel - this example being number 46 - making this watch not only one of the most intriguing, aesthetically pleasing and historically interesting early perpetual calendar Royal Oaks, but furthermore one of the rarest as well.

    • Artist Biography

      Audemars Piguet

      Swiss • 1881

      A specialist in the manufacture of complications since it was established in 1881, Audemars Piguet never ceases to impress with a rich history of creating bold, even audacious, timepieces underpinned by traditional watchmaking at its finest. This Le Brassus-based Swiss manufacturer is one of only two major manufacturers still owned by the founding family. Since its earliest days, AP is considered a leader in the field of minute repeaters and grande complication pocket and wristwatches. The brand is devoted to preserving the history of watchmaking in the Vallée de Joux, showcased at their superb museum in Le Brassus.

      Today, the brand is best known for its Royal Oak models, a revolutionary luxury sports watch launched in 1972. Other key models include early minute repeating wristwatches, vintage chronograph wristwatches, such as the oversized reference 5020, perpetual calendar watches and the Royal Oak Offshore, first introduced in 1993.

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Ref. 5554ST
A supremely rare, early and historically insightful stainless steel perpetual calendar wristwatch with moonphases, bracelet, MK I dial, 4-digit reference and "triple serial" case. The first and thinnest Royal Oak perpetual calendar model ever produced, part of a 49 pieces series

39mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

Full Cataloguing

CHF80,000 - 160,000 

Sold for CHF680,400

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi

Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East

+41 22 317 81 81


Virginie Liatard-Roessli
Head of Sale, Specialist
+41 76 338 91 03

The Royal Oak 50th

Geneva Auction 6 May 2022