he Royal Oak, widely considered one of the most influential designs of all time, was originally designed by Gerald Genta for Audemars Piguet. The Royal Oak Ref. 4100 was launched in 1977 as a mid-size version (35 mm) of the iconic Ref. 5402 (39 mm). This time designed by Jacqueline Dimier, it was also the first Royal Oak to be equipped with a centre seconds hands. From the outset, it was produced in steel, yellow gold, and two-tone versions. According to Audemars Piguet, around 2,130 pieces were made in yellow gold between 1977 and 1988.
The present lot has the distinction of carrying the name of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the current ruler of Dubai, who, in the 1980s, held the position of Minister of Defence of the United Arab Emirates. To accommodate his signature on the top half of the dial, the Audemars Piguet script was moved to bottom half of the dial.
Sheikh Mohammad’s name has appeared on vintage Rolex wristwatches in the past, but we have hardly come across of his signature on vintage Audemars Piguet models.
It was common practice among Gulf royalty and prominent Government establishments in the region to commission watches with their names or logos on the dial. These watches were given as state gifts or commemorative tokens to individuals, diplomats, or business partners. Within collectors’ circles, these watches were known as “Arabic dials” and are considered collector’s pieces.
This genuine Royal Oak Ref. 4100BA ‘Maktoum Dial’ will be sold with its Audemars Piguet Extract between 24 April and 4 May in Christie’s Watches Online: The Dubai Edit Sale.