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Singing the Praises of Steel
September 2, 2010 Innovations

Singing the praises of steel

Stainless steel, once disparaged, is now firmly established in the luxury world thanks to the Royal Oak, a model that quickly became a must-have. Spotlight on an alloy with high potential for sports collections.

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When Audemars Piguet introduced its first stainless steel Royal Oak model in 1972, with a price tag equal to that of a prestigious gold watch, it stunned the luxury market. The message sent by this revolutionary sports model was admittedly impertinent: haute horlogerie could come up with prestigious timepieces without necessarily relying on precious metals.  From this point forward, it was the design, the precision of the execution, and the quality of the movement that counted.

“Because steel is more resistant to exterior conditions than gold, it was perfect for a sports watch. Early on, we worked it like gold, bringing high-end finishing touches to the design, notably alternating polished and satin-brushed surfaces,” explains Claudio Cavaliere, product manager at Audemars Piguet. In addition, this first stainless steel Royal Oak included a  gold component. Audemars Piguet was selling steel for the price of gold, while putting some gold in the interior of the watch. “The idea was to protect the precious metal in a strong, watertight case,” explains Claudio Cavaliere.

With the Royal Oak’s success, other luxury watchmaking brands turned to steel, to the extent that it has become almost essential for competing high-end sports watches. The success of the venture encouraged Audemars Piguet to develop technical laboratories that have since specialized in exploring and using new materials such as titanium, alacrite, rubber, aluminum, forged carbon and ceramics, for both watch cases and movements.

Some models in steel

Some models in steel

Some models in steel
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak TOURBILLON

    Hand-wound watch. Stainless steel case, blue dial, stainless steel bracelet.

    View Details
    Reference 26510ST.OO.1220ST.01 Thumbnail

    Calibre 2924 Manufacture

    Calibre 2924 Manufacture, front
    Front
    Calibre 2924 Manufacture, back
    Back
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak SELFWINDING

    Selfwinding watch with date display and centre seconds. Stainless steel case, blue dial, stainless steel bracelet.

    View Details
    Reference 15400ST.OO.1220ST.03 Thumbnail

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, front
    Front
    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, back
    Back
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak EXTRA-THIN

    Selfwinding watch with date display. Stainless steel case, blue dial, stainless steel bracelet.

    View Details
    Reference 15202ST.OO.1240ST.01 Thumbnail

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 2121

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 2121, front
    Front
    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 2121, back
    Back
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak SELFWINDING

    Selfwinding watch with date display and centre seconds. Stainless steel case, black dial, stainless steel bracelet.

    View Details
    Reference 15400ST.OO.1220ST.01 Thumbnail

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, front
    Front
    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, back
    Back
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak SELFWINDING

    Selfwinding watch with date display and centre seconds. Stainless steel case, silvered dial, stainless steel bracelet.

    View Details
    Reference 15400ST.OO.1220ST.02 Thumbnail

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, front
    Front
    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, back
    Back
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak SELFWINDING

    Selfwinding watch with date display and centre seconds. Stainless steel case, silvered dial, stainless steel bracelet.

    View Details
    Reference 15450ST.OO.1256ST.01 Thumbnail

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, front
    Front
    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, back
    Back
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak SELFWINDING

    Selfwinding watch with date display and centre seconds. Stainless steel case, black dial, stainless steel bracelet. 40 diamants taille brillant; ~0.90 carat (lunette)

    View Details
    Reference 15451ST.ZZ.1256ST.01 Thumbnail

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, front
    Front
    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, back
    Back
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak QUARTZ

    Quartz watch with date display. Stainless steel case, silvered dial, stainless steel bracelet. 40 brilliant-cut diamonds; ~0.71 carat (bezel).

    View Details
    Reference 67651ST.ZZ.1261ST.01 Thumbnail

    Calibre 2713

    Calibre 2713, front
    Front
    Calibre 2713, back
    Back
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak CHRONOGRAPH

    Selfwinding chronograph with date display and small seconds at 6 o'clock. Stainless steel case, black dial, stainless steel bracelet.

    View Details
    Reference 26320ST.OO.1220ST.01 Thumbnail

    Selfwinding Calibre 2385

    Selfwinding Calibre 2385, front
    Front
    Selfwinding Calibre 2385, back
    Back
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak CHRONOGRAPH

    Selfwinding chronograph with date display and small seconds at 6 o'clock. Stainless steel case, blue dial, stainless steel bracelet.

    View Details
    Reference 26320ST.OO.1220ST.03 Thumbnail

    Selfwinding Calibre 2385

    Selfwinding Calibre 2385, front
    Front
    Selfwinding Calibre 2385, back
    Back
  • Some models in steel

    Royal Oak CHRONOGRAPH

    Selfwinding chronograph with date display and small seconds at 6 o'clock. Stainless steel case, silvered dial, stainless steel bracelet.

    View Details
    Reference 26320ST.OO.1220ST.02 Thumbnail

    Selfwinding Calibre 2385

    Selfwinding Calibre 2385, front
    Front
    Selfwinding Calibre 2385, back
    Back