Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept

Borro Benchmarks: The Collectability of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept

The Backstory

It’s hard for any watch industry analyst to say what I’m about to say without biting one’s tongue at the last second, but I’ve had years to let this opinion settle and I’m at peace with it: My favorite watch – the watch I would own and wear above all others – is an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept watch.

Truth be told, that doesn’t necessarily give you much of an insight into what I’m into beyond the fact I’m obviously a fan of hi-octane futurism, new materials, and hefty diameters. When it comes to collectability the last of those things is something around which I’d normally tread carefully, but in the case of AP and their magnificent foray into the possibilities of new materials in watchmaking, I’ll make an exception.

And here’s for why: There are many reason for buying a watch, perhaps even more for collecting them. Although we’re conditioned to stick to branding (a box AP, as an industry powerhouse, ticks comfortably), we’re also encouraged (in this column among others) to err on the side of timelessness, of classicism, of perpetual wearability.

But when you are incredibly wealthy – and I mean earning-money-faster-than-you-can-spend-it wealthy – you need something else, something spicy, something beyond the pale, something truly extraordinary.

Step in Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept collection, and take a bow.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept

Which Models to Watch

In this article we’re discussing six to seven figure behemoths. At this level of collecting you are likely to operate as a custodian of the piece rather than an actual daily wearer.

Making money – tangible profits – in this echelon of watchmaking is actually a lot easier than at the entry level. It’s a real dog fight down there; up here in the clouds? Money talks.

So which pieces stand out above all others: For me, the key here is artisanship. Go for the truly complicated, truly innovative watches. New materials should be present, but not the cynosure. Take the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept GMT tourbillon in white ceramic. Cool as heck, but somewhat limited in my opinion. If you’re spending the equivalent of an apartment on a watch, why not leap outside the box?

For me, the real value comes in a fusion of mechanical and material novelty: My personal favorite is the Audemars Piguet Royal Concept Laptimer with Dual Seconds Chronograph.

That watch is particularly relevant to an article concerning collecting these pieces because it’s no longer available. In the case of these models, the desire stoked by scarcity is a very, very real force indeed. Do not underestimate its power. There are brands the world over that create fantastic novelties at stratospheric prices in very limited run sizes in order to satisfy the need for exclusivity harbored by the Super Rich, and they succeed without the added clout of Audemars Piguet’s name.

About the Author:

Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.