IN-DEPTH: Rebellion meets technology in the history of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ConceptThe word “concept” is something that is often associated with the world’s most enthralling works of art. A concept album can tell a very deliberate story, or explore a particular theme or idea in wondrous detail. A concept car is usually shown to represent the pinnacle of a designer’s imagination that’s invariably watered down should it make it into production. So when Audemars Piguet announced a concept watch in 2002, what was the world to think? Does it represent some bigger idea? Can I actually buy one? Why does it need to exist? Unpacking the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept isn’t instantly intuitive, but it begins with rebellion, technology and ingenuity. If you’re unfamiliar with the story of the original Royal Oak introduction in 1972, here’s a quick debrief. Seiko unveil their quartz-powered Astron in 1969, shaking the foundations of the watch industry. As the masses flocked towards the technology for its affordable reliability, the Swiss traditionalists were brought to their knees. Many brands held on for dear life, some even releasing their own quartz offerings, but many more collapsed. Audemars Piguet realised that their struggles didn’t have to be the end, but an opportunity for reinvention. Enter designer Gérald…

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