The early 1970s was a time of great change within the watch industry, where the concept of a luxury watch in steel was truly revolutionary. The reference 5402 Royal Oak is often referred to as ‘Jumbo’, owing to its relatively imposing size for the period. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak debuted in 1972, and was the most expensive steel watch ever made. It was not only unprecedented in its design, but also in its initial pricing to consumers. The retail price for the watch was 3,750 Swiss Francs, more than four times the cost of any other steel watch of the period. As a result of the watch’s groundbreaking design, the very first ‘A-series’ examples were limited to just 1000 pieces, initially getting off to a slow start. It would be two years before another 1000 ‘A-series’ Royal Oak examples would see the light of day, completing an exceptionally limited series of 2000 ever produced. On the eve of Basel’s 1971 fair, Gerald Genta was tasked with the creation of an “unprecedented steel watch" – his night's work, today considered one of the masterpieces of his career. Audemars Piguet managing director of the time, Georges Golay, contacted Mr. Genta with a view to designing a totally new, steel, waterproof sports watch – understanding that the waterproof technology would require innovative strategy. Gerald Genta’s inspiration for the iconic Royal Oak architecture was to replicate that of the scaphander diving helmet, on the watch case, complete with eight screws and the joint visible on the cases’ exterior. As Mr. Genta recounts “I was given the ‘green light’ straight away to begin work on the prototype. I completed the prototype myself within a year. In 1970, I designed the watch. And it took one more year before industrial production, which finally came about in 1972”. Prototypes for the Royal Oak are said to have been initially manufactured from white gold, as the softer material was easier to sculpt and manipulate the varying degree of angular, brushed and polished surfaces. Unfortunately this fantastic example, though live, is now reserved, following last week’s post.