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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 38mm

While most of the attention surrounding Audemars Piguet is being paid to the brand new CODE 11.59 collection, that’s not all that AP is releasing at SIHH 2019. In fact, there are some downright killer new variations on the Royal Oak that you’ll definitely want to know about. Chief among these? The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph in a new 38mm size! Yes, you read that right: the simple F. Piguet-powered Royal Oak Chrono is available in a smaller size, sitting comfortably between the “Jumbo” and the 37mm Royal Oak models. Recently, this watch was only available in the 41mm size, which replaced the old 39mm models back in 2012. There are four versions of the new watch, two in steel and two in rose gold, with variations on white/grey/silver dials throughout. These are going to be a new mainstay in the AP collection and I would expect that these four references are just the beginning of a very popular new sub-collection.
I’m going to go ahead and call it now: These watches are one of the sleeper hits of SIHH 2019. Sure, they’re not revolutionary and they don’t introduce any new movements or materials to the mix, but they take a classic model with an iconic movement and offer a meaningful update that makes the watch more contemporary and wearable (in my not-so-humble opinion). Plus, chronographs! Who doesn’t love a good chrono these days? Of the bunch, I think it’s the steel model with the silver and blue dial that I’m most excited to see in the metal, but honestly all four look damn good from the early images. You can bet we’ll have tons of hands-on coverage of these coming to you soon, so stay tuned!
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 Chrono 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 AP 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.