While it’s safe to say that Audemars Piguet’s SIHH was somewhat tumultuous, it wasn’t without its more crowd-pleasing fare. Among a handful of new Royal Oak expressions, we find what might be the most well balanced and sweet-on-wrist of the lot, the new 38mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph. While perhaps not a surprise offering from the house of the Royal Oak, this all-new model retains the charm of the standard Royal Oak while adding an automatic chronograph in a trio of colorways that sing on wrist.
I think that, provided you’re into the general vibe of a Royal Oak, these new 38mm chronographs are really really good. Offered in pink gold with a silver-white dial or steel in either a silver-on-grey dial or a blue-on-white/white panda dial, the three combinations offer something a bit sporty, a bit more reserved, or a bit more boss (ok, a lot more boss).
At 38mm across with screw-down pushers, 50m water resistance, and an automatic movement, the case is only 11mm thick and the whole package feels solid, thoughtful, and undeniably fun. Also available in a 41mm version that has been around for some time, while 41mm isn’t exactly large in the modern watch game, these new models err closer to the Royal Oak’s spiritual home of 39mm and, for my wrist and eyes, feel better proportioned than the larger version.
Despite dropping those three millimeters, the new 38mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph still employs the same movement that is used in the larger RO chronograph (and also many past models), the Selfwinding Caliber 2385. Based on the Frédéric Piguet 1185, this column-wheel chronograph movement features an integrated design, a rate of 3 Hz, and 40 hours of power reserve.
For those reading this and finding it hard to see the appeal, there is something so special, so right, about a Royal Oak on wrist. If you can, swing by an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph boutique and try on a few examples. I honestly didn’t fully understand the draw until I tried on a solid gold 5402 (now it’s a grail). And while I’m not at all a chronograph guy, the chrono display nestles so nicely into the “Grande Tapisserie” dial on these 38mm chronographs that I almost don’t mind the date at 4:30. Almost.
The grey/silver is low key, the blue on white/silver is sporty and really good, but you know your boy is all about the solid pink gold version with the white/silver dial. Priced at $23,800 in steel and $52,700 in gold, the new Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph is little more than a re-working of the Royal Oak proportions but it’s a strong example of less being more (even in solid gold).