ritten by Bill Prince, an award-winning cultural journalist and former deputy editor of British GQ, the book presents the Royal Oak’s history from a broader cultural perspective, while shedding light on new archival materials uncovered by Audemars Piguet’s Heritage department alongside exclusive testimonies of long-standing friends of the brand. The lively narrative text is illustrated with imagery from six decades of groundbreaking art, architecture, fashion, music and cultural history, paralleling the evolution of this trailblazing timepiece beloved by innovative tastemakers and influential celebrities around the globe. The two brands will celebrate the launch of the book with dedicated events in London, New York and Los Angeles in the weeks to come.
“The beauty of Royal Oak: From Iconoclast to Icon resides in the seamless harmony between the book’s modernity and the historic richness of its content. A bridge between past and future, it represents a remarkable tribute to the heritage of this iconic timepiece and to the people who have contributed to its success.”
From Iconoclast to Icon retraces how the Royal Oak created a stir upon its release in 1972, with its armour of hand-finished stainless steel encasing the thinnest selfwinding mechanical movement of its era and shone around the world in the decades that followed. For the first time, steel was ennobled to the same status as gold. Inspired by the profound cultural, artistic and industrial changes of the 1960s and early 1970s, this forward-looking timepiece anticipated a more active yet casual lifestyle, while heralding the beginning of a new high-end watchmaking era combining sportiness and refinement.
“We had to invent a model both sporty and stylish in spirit, suitable for evening wear and for the daily activities of today’s man of taste.” - Georges Golay, Audemars Piguet Managing Director from 1966 to 1987.
Although an outlier at birth, the Royal Oak soon found an audience among the free-spirited youth, who recognised the watch’s audacious blend of technological advances and ancestral craftsmanship. The Royal Oak has been a canvas of innovation ever since, conversing with art, music, architecture and sports. Today, a cultural artefact beyond watchmaking, the Royal Oak is an object of permanence in a world of obsolescence, embodying the creative freedom and the youthful spirit of those who have contributed to writing its story.
Furthering the Royal Oak’s unique cultural journey, Bill Prince also gives voice to what he calls the “Generation Royal Oak,” a group of watch connoisseurs who came of age following the timepiece’s launch and whose achievements reflect the global, cultural movement that inspired it. This cohort notably includes the likes of Kevin Hart, Bjarke Ingels, Elle Macpherson, Mark Ronson, Serena Williams and Ning Zetao, to name but a few.
For this ambitious project, Audemars Piguet has worked in collaboration with luxury publishing house Assouline. Royal Oak: From Iconoclast to Icon reflects the two brands’ uncompromising blend of heritage and innovation as well as their passionate dedication to craftsmanship, precision and excellence. Conceived by the two entities as both a cultural reference book and a timeless object of design made in the image of the Royal Oak, it also attests to their common endeavour to create lasting cultural artefacts to be passed on across generations.
Royal Oak: From Iconoclast to Icon is now available through Assouline’s network.