Audemars Piguet has been revolutionizing the art of fine watchmaking for over 145 years. From complicated models like its perpetual calendars to its most famous model ever – the Royal Oak – this guide runs through some of the most iconic yet affordable designs that the Le Brassus-based brand has created to date. Let’s begin our list of the top 5 best Audemars Piguet starter watches for first-time buyers.
Royal Oak 15500ST.OO.1220ST.02
Audemars Piguet has revolutionized the luxury watch industry in many ways since it began manufacturing timepieces of exceptional quality in 1875, but no more so than with its Royal Oak collection. The Royal Oak became an icon from the moment it launched in 1972. It was the world’s first luxury sports watch. Despite having a case construction made from non-precious metal, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch was incredibly expensive. It came when the industry was still producing wristwatches from precious metals, which made it an appealing alternative to those seeking something less conventional.
Today the collection is home to several affordable designs. Each Royal Oak watch is distinguishable for its instantly recognizable octagonal-shaped case, hexagonal-shaped screws, and popular porthole-inspired design. At the time, the 39mm models from the AP Royal Oak collection were considered large and were nicknamed “Jumbo.” Over the years, the designs have remained relatively faithful to the dimensions and aesthetics of the original. Royal Oak watches can be found in rose gold chronograph designs, to state-of-the-art complications and exquisitely crafted tourbillons.
This example model ref 15500ST.OO.1220ST.02 from the Royal Oak collection boasts a simple three-handed dial design accompanied by a practical date aperture at 3 o’clock. Aside from feeling and looking substantial upon the arm thanks to a 42mm diameter, it also wraps around the wrist with a sophisticated steel bracelet for elevating smart attire. Behind the “Audemars Piguet,” lettering emblazoned onto the surface of its “Grand Tapisserie” or “waffle” dial in black is the caliber 4302. This in-house movement consists of 257 individual components, all placed by hand into the heart of the watch’s case. The watch retails for around $23,000.
Royal Oak Offshore 15710ST.OO.A027CA.01
The Royal Oak offshore is ideal for those wanting something a little larger. The designs from this collection are extensions of the Royal Oak. Some of the top-end timepieces from the range have been crafted from materials like titanium and ceramic. They feature minute repeaters and perpetual calendars, amongst other innovative functions.
The Grande Complication watches from this collection are considered horological highlights. However, the more affordable models from the collection are those like the Royal Oak Offshore 15710ST.OO.A027CA.01, which combines legibility with a sporty feel in perfect proportions.
Watches like this are considered suitable for diving, hence their 300-meter water-resistant cases. The Royal Oak Offshore was released in 1993 and became an instant success thanks to its sporty, masculine-infused dial. This blue dial has received injections of zesty yellow highlights seen in the first 15 minutes of the 60-minute diving scale. The color is also applied to the minute hand and the remaining markers on the main scale, in ten-minute increments.
Features like a sapphire glass caseback and a blue rubber-clad screw-locked crown uphold the watch’s water-resistant capability. At the same time, white gold applied hour markers and hands coated in luminescence help you to reference the time easily when under deep depths of water. This is the ultimate diving tool from Audemars Piguet. If it’s values like affordability, robustness, and reliability you’re seeking in a watch, you can’t go wrong with a Royal Oak Offshore, priced at around $19,500.
Millenary Hand-Wound P-O 77247OR.ZZ.A812CR.01
With its unique case shape and a skeletonized dial, Audemars Piguet Millenary watches can be mistaken for no other watch on the market. The brand chooses a sophisticated blend of high-grade materials, state-of-the-art mechanical components, and a three-dimensional aesthetic to create these unique-looking wristwatches. The Millenary was designed to put the mechanical movement at the forefront of the design. It’s certainly the star of the show in this exquisitely crafted Audemars Piguet Millenary hand-wound watch ref: P-O 77247OR.ZZ.A812CR.01.
If you like your timepieces to communicate a sense of luxury and grandeur, this Millenary watch, with its 39.5mm 18ct rose gold case bordered in scintillating diamonds, is ideal for you. The diamonds travel into the lugs, securing a classic brown leather strap to the wrist.
This timepiece feels vintage; however, its modern take on a case shape, combined with a design concept that opens up to give you the clearest view of the movement, is master craftsmanship at its finest. With an off-center timekeeping dial and a small second sub-dial incorporated into the 7 o’clock location, you won’t find a more individual-looking watch than this. The watch is priced at $18,500.
Jules Audemars Extra-Thin 15180BC.OO.A002CR.01
For a classic dress watch that wears thinly on the wrist, the Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Extra-Thin watch keeps timekeeping scaled back to the bare essentials. The minimalist dial of this Jules Audemars 15180BC.OO.A002CR.01 model makes it easy to pair with everyday attire or something more elegant by night. Watches from this range pay homage to one of the two founding members of the company. Embodying time-honored watchmaking methods that span a 145-year heritage, this timepiece is both modest and classical for wearing to every occasion.
A solid 18k white gold case holds an in-house made movements at its center – the extra-thin Caliber 2120, which fits like a glove inside its protective housing. Despite having been crafted from precious metal, this is still a reasonably priced Audemars Piguet watch. It sits at the bottom half of the brand’s price scale, costing around $23,00. Some models, like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in steel, can start at around $60,000.
The design of this watch’s case is an art in itself. Developed specifically so that it looks aesthetically pleasing while wearing comfortably against the skin, this 41mm Jules Audemars watch with silver dial and rose gold hands and markers, is a stunning dress watch to enjoy at any opportunity.
Royal Oak Offshore Self-Winding Chronograph 42mm 26470PT.OO.1000PT.02
Finally, we come to the best entry-level chronograph watch from Audemars Piguet. It belongs to the Royal Oak Offshore collection and was launched just a few years back. A slate grey “elephant” dial is home to snailed sub-dials that donate a sense of depth and character to the design. As with all Royal Oak Offshore watches, this model feels beefy thanks to its octagonal-shaped case in platinum.
This is a slightly more expensive timepiece compared to the others we’ve featured in this guide. Still, if you’re looking for a chronograph movement that has been built from start to finish in-house, combined with an instantly recognizable design – this Royal Oak Offshore chronograph has it all. Updates such as rubber accents on the push-pieces and the crown enhance a dynamic and sporty look on the wrist.
The broader, faceted hour and minute hands were well-received when these watches were introduced in 2015, alongside hour markers with improved legibility. The distinguishable rugged looks of the ROO Chronograph models are perfect for adding a statement piece to casual, smart, or formal attire. Retailing at around $26,000, the watch can be used for measuring elapsed time in conjunction with a tachymeter scale around the flange.
Recording distance based on speed or based on travel time, the chronograph pushers are both smooth in performance but easy to grip too. The caliber 3126 chronograph movement features a solid 22k gold winding rotor and provides a 50-hour power reserve. What’s more, you can change the style and feel of this Audemars Piguet watch by swapping the platinum bracelet over to a blue alligator leather strap whenever the mood suits.
With a varied choice to browse through, Audemars Piguet has many affordable options to consider. Whatever model you invest in, you’ll always be paying a premium price tag. The company has such a flawless reputation for creating some of the most superb timepieces in the entire world.
They’re devoted to remaining faithful to traditional manufacturing methods. It’s easy to see why the brand belongs up there with the likes of Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe. That being said, there are still affordable options from the brand’s catalog to tale advantage of, many of which fit perfectly in the collections of any novice or experienced connoisseur alike.