April 16, 2024

Can’t resist to the pleasure to post here some quick pics of the Original Royal Oak, the one, the only one, which started the R.O Saga.

A small package, with a box which you will easily store:

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If I was attracted by this Original Royal Oak, it is not only because it was the first, but because of the great purity, strenght, beauty of its design.

Here a pic with the original blue dial in the background ( before it gets this stunning brownish patina )

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A bit like a ” before / After ” trip!

The superb and uniform patina extraordinarly enhances the Beauty and the strenght of this watch, don’t you think so?

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Another superb thing is the Octogonal brushed / polished bezel, as shown on the pics above.

The Hobnail dial is another sublime detail, and nothing can beat some macros to have a more precise idea of the outcome:

” Audemars Piguet Automatic ” just below ” 12 ” Index.

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” AP ” Logo just under ” 6 ” Index:

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12 Nice and thin Rectangular indexes, a superb ” Tapisserie ” finish, and thin baton hands:

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Its volume, thinness, are awesome, too.

The case back is solid, and if you add a reliable JLC movement, you have a dressy and very pleasant soprt watch, with the soul of its unbelievable patina.

What else?

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Bye Bye the City of Sails, welcome to the RO Jumbo!



…in my opinion, the best Royal Oak.  The patina really does give it a wonderful look; reminds me of a old bronze statue whose dark finish is wearing off. it also gives a better idea of the details of the finishing, I’d never really noticed the circular graining before.

Is it an A, B or no series at all?

I agree with you…

To me too, this is the Best RO.

And when I compare it to the ROO, I prefer it even more!


Nicolas… not so nice movement smile… lol…. Btw, didn’t JLC  sell movements to AP in the early century? I think that the 1st models had a genta movement… not sure though.
I often dream of tailor made watch to my desires… Like a 44mm daytona or a 44mm Lange datograph,etc…. Maybe in Bale2009, we might get close to something.
Nice post, reminds me of my 1st love, that i wore for 10 years… royal oak chrono steel. Thanks for the post buddy, u’ve jst brought back sweet memories wink


But I understand that JLC sold movements to AP, not GG, for this watch…

Therefore, GG designed the RO, and didn’t make the movement, nor …any movements, AFAIK.

Sweete memories?

Certainly, my friend…

That’s another reason why I jumped on it.

Best, and thanks for your nice words, Karim!

Nicolas…the movement was designed late ’60s / early ’70s by JLC under exclusive contract to Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet. Each manufacture finished the basic ebauche delivered by JLC.

 It included some special features which made it one of the most slim automatic movements of the time. For example, the rotor runs on jewelled rollers around the periphery of the movement. That way they could allow reduced clearance between the rotor and the movement but avoid the damage which would occur when the rotor would run against the movement. The operational part of the movement is rather small to fit inside the circumference of the rotor weight and it uses a small balance wheel using the PP adjustable mass system.
All three of the “Big Three” manufactures used the movement, but by the late 1990s AP was the only remaining one. Some time ago AP took exclusive control of the movement and now make a very limited number in-house each year.
No message bodyOne of the greatest movements ever designed and produced.

Flat reliable torque, ultra thin, advanced engineering that actually worked in its rotor winding system, exotic design features like hanging mainspring barrel…

The 920 movement was indeed funded by AP and VC; PP’s version was later and slightly “inferior” (thicker) as they were a minority partner in the trio of development sponsors (PP used their version of this movement in the original Nautilus.)

The Original RO launched in 1972, shipped in 1973, through A, B, and C series used this caliber – AP 2121 (2120 with date; there never was, and cannot be, a version with seconds hand, contrary to an internet myth started a decade ago based on an erroneous extrapolated “conclusion”)

Later called the Jumbo in subsequent series.

GG did have a glorious movement development and production house, making some of the most complicated movements in the world, but they didn’t supply to AP.

The original jumbo (no capital J) came with the AP above the 6 rather than under the 12 only for the first 1000 pieces (no letter) and A and B series, officially. Some early C series also have this dial but …and of course, the redialed pieces, by AP and outside, are extant as well.

AP has exclusive rights (read: own the rights) and the equipment to this movement today, part of the JLC sale to Richemont and AP selling their significant share holding of JLC to Richemont.



 thanks for lesson, very interesting. Regretting even more that i sold mine. Now, the worst part is that my father got one of the 1st Royal oak that he bought in the 70’s… and hold on tied, he swifted the movement to a quartz!!! … LOL… if that was all, he makes fun of me and my craze for watches and the outrageous amount i spend buying them, while his is always accurate!! I tried to explain to him that he had a robot on his wrist, while he had an amazing movement that was close to a living thing, that had a heart that beats, etc… useless, message didnt went through smile… lol… then again, he’s my father, so he’ll always think that he knows better


P.s: I refused to take care of the transformation wink

over 30 years eventually forces a little bit of knowledge on the collector.


“Father is always right” – even when he’s not.

Cheers, K



I can’t forget my meeting with the ” Uncle” Martin, a few months ago, Thomas…



NicolasNo message body
And for the corrections too, about GG movement, and the j instead of the J.


Best, my friend.


I’d be curious to know how much of the history was “travelling” with the watch.

The heavy handed case polishing (shoulders of the case, edges, transitions at the octagonal points, as Alec points out) would make me worry about the service history of the movement.  The fairly heavy corrosion / deterioration of the hands and markers (some corrosion is common among early RO’s) would also concern me, vis a vis the movement – did moisture get into the movement area?  If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest you have the movement checked out. Hopefully the movement is in very good shape.

A great catch nonetheless, any early jumbo that is still running reliably is always a special find. Congrats!


I will enjoy it a bit, and then , I will give it to AP to restore it…

Maybe a new bezel, a nice polish, and a Movement Service with a new Bracelet.

I will think about what I’ll do on it.

But, for the vmoment, I enjoy it.

Best, and thanks for your input, Thomas.


Hi, Nicolas,

Just be aware that the bracelet on early RO jumbos are NOT inter-changeable with later Jumbo’s; nor are the links so do NOT lose any links you might have taken out!

Enjoy it!



And yes, once again, you’re right, Father…


I will need to get a special one for this special piece…

I’m waiting for the AP tel Call today, they will tell me all.



even from Le Brassus that would be a minor miracle.  Even links are well nigh impossible … believe me, I speak from experience…

I’m looking forward to seeing the piece in person, be sure to hold on to it until at least we next meet.

We might even be able to have a family reunion of sorts…



Let me know when you can come, Thomas…

Or maybe I’ll ba able to do the Trip til you HQ.


Of course, I will keep it till we meet…

I have no hurry to let go this piece.



What is a “hanging mainspring barrel”?

Other than the finshes and skeleton rotor, are there any variations/differences between the 2121 used in the original 1972/73 Royal Oaks and the ones used today in the 15202?



Is a barrel that is not supported on both ends, so only supported by the barrel bridge and not by the main plate (so it is cantilevered from one end).

Cheers, Al

Thanks a lot Al for the reply.

What is the advantage of such arrangement? More compact (need less space) or easier removal of the mainspring barrel?



Hi, Pat,

Been limited to PDA access, thanks to Al for giving a very good answer.

The downside is that it is more difficult to service, requiring a special spacing tool to service properly.  It is possible to service without the tool, but to do it right, the watchmaker would need very special skills or really, really know what he / she is doing.

I personally would never let someone who is not experienced with this specific caliber work on this movement, in whatever case.




Looks like the two-hand-date-watch-movement is not as simple as it looks.


variants with variable inertia balances and traditional screwed balances.



Seems that the variants on 2121 are not much significant over the last 30 years. Pretty much a 1973 movement for the current in production 15202..

Probably AP should improvise/update the already legendary (best automatic) movement with silicon escapement, ceramic ball bearings, etc.  What do you think?



Those, to me, are not improvements!

Sacrilege! Put that crap on new, unproven movements that haven’t withstood the test of time; or to make right what wasn’t right to begin with…

I would not put fuel injection in a vintage Bugatti, or even a 1960’s/1970’s Lamborghini; I would have no interest in seeing ceramic ball bearings or silicon anything in a cal. 2121…

imho, of course…



Guess I have pressed the wrong buttons. smile

I agree with you vintage legendary historical pieces should not be meddled at all. I am not suggesting that we take a 1973 Royal Oak 2121 and replace the parts (if that could be done). To do that would kill the history of the significant watch.

Ya, it was a great technological achivement in 1973 to produce a 3.05mm auto movement, thus all the cal.2121 in the 70s are historically significant as Vintage pieces. But that history was made 30 years ago. 

What I am referring to is the 2121 produced say in 2008. It is a NEW watch. Made in the 21st century. If there are alternative better materials to improvise the watch (maybe ceramic and silicon are not qualified-not tested like you said), why not? So that the 2121 can continue to create NEW history. Something like what Patek is doing for the 315?

It all boils down to whether a new movement manufactured today based on a 1973 specs would make this particularly piece in question instantly historical?

Really appreciate your patience on ignorant me.




Hi, Patrick,

My original point was that silicium, silicon, ceramic bearings, etc – if the original classically designed movement was well designed, well produced, the benefits of the high tech components are minimal, at best, and loses much of the “old school touch” of using naturally occuring materials, produceable with “hand tools”

But certainly ceramic bearings and silicium wheels can “cover up” lots of sloppy design or sloppy production.

I’m sure there are lots of “gear heads” (used with utmost respect and affection) who will argue with me to death about these points, but for me, I feel the same as I feel about machine finished finishing on movements vs hand finishing a la Dufour and Voutilainen, even if there are no functional improvements with the hand finishing.

So to be clear, no, I would have no interest in a modern day 2120/2121 with ceramic bearings or silicium wheels.

Of course, Mr. Karl Friederich Scheufele had a very witty reply to my point when I brought it up to him in a recent conversation…



at least a new ‘original’ 2121 still preserves the ‘old shool way (and hand-tool-produceable-parts-tradition)’ of making watches.

Is it really true that the manufacturing of a 2121 in AP is still essentially the same as in the 70s? You mentioned somewhere that AP has the exclusive rights and the equipment to this movement.

Thanks again.

This message has been edited by patrickau on 2009-02-18 00:19:25

Hi, Pat,

Of course, very little is as it was in the 1970’s, not even the way I brush my teeth!


The toolings for the 2120/2121 are indeed now with AP and AP RP.




I would be grateful for any information which you might provide regarding a recent purchase. I have a penchant for TV shaped watches viz my Piaget from late 70s. I have just chanced upon an AP (TV screen shape) 18ct white gold, copper sunburst dial, cal 2121 and so enchanted was I that my cheque book fairly jumped out of my hand.Would I be correct in assuming that this is also from the late 70s early 80s era and are you able to advise whether this should be wound clockwise or alternating or anticlockwise on an automatic winder?I seem to be unable to upload pictures again.

This “bronze” color is very nice and goes very well with the RO. You got a great watch Nico !


A RO you will have to test in the flesh, my friend.

Be careful, trying it is adopting it…


Nicolasand thanks for the excellent images. You are right about the quality of the patina as well!

Best regards,

Tony C.

I’m a bit crazy about Vintage and Natural brown dials…

Thnaks, Tony, for your comments!


Thanks for sharing!


I was unaware that those dials could change so! Your photos and observations are interesting ones. I must confess I have been tempted from time to time but have not yielded to the temptation to acquire one. In a way, I think the numerous iterations of the watch intimidate me. I just don’t know where to start. Then again, maybe the place to start would be the original! Yours is certainly a beautiful example. Thanks for sharing it.


There are so many variants that it is bit complicated…

A friend of mine told me that the ROs were strange watches.

When you don’t have one, you want one, and when tyou get it, you want to sell it.


The interesting thing with the original jumbo is that you have all, Simplicity, Beauty, Strenght, and that the original Gerald Genta Design is here, too.

When I have a look on some recent ROOs, I have a doubt about the integrity of the original volumes of this watch.

If you go on a bigger case, are the proportions still harmonious?

I tjin that the ideal proportions ofr this watch are 39mm, the size of this jumbo.

But it is my personnal take, and some would prefer bigger.

Back to the roots, in a certain way, but in a spectacular way, due to this awesome patina!

Best, and thanks for your input.


I´ve always loved this watch… and if you add a vintage piece: what more can I desire?.

the RO Jumbo is an amazing watch, a watch that it´s always in my head. Last week one friend would sell me his RO Jumbo with black dial…. I was really tempted, but… I prefered wait a time. This watch will be in my wrist in some years (I think that it´s no a watch for me today)

Your piece is really amazing, my “browns dials” friend (with this RO and your Longines you have two great examples about the beautiful pass of the time).

Your City of sais was stunning (thanks for show me it smile)

I´m very happy for you hermano, congrats…


And yes, it is a nice watch.

But I was thinking, after having viewed  and tried some simple ROs, that maybe the solution was here.

Why not choosing the rule: ” The Simpler, the better “?

The original RO was the AP watch I needed to add in my collection, and now that I own ( and wear ) it, I’m really happy.

This Bronze dial is just sublime!

Thanks for your nice words, Hermano.

Best from Paris,



I got one too from 1992 LE series…will be 20 years in 2012 smile

Same mov’t of course, same legend…definitely a keeper! Congrats!!!!

Would be interesting to see, in the same post, the original and the little sister…

Thanks for your nice words, my friend.

NicolasIn the meantime, I will try to find the older scan. Thanks!

Truely a classic and legendary sport watch. One that can be very elegant in evening too. Royal Oak rules!!





Thks for sharing
Has all the edges on that Jumbo been polished off or it is just your photo?
I have it on my wrisrt while typing these lines, and the edges are polished.

Thanks for the nice words, my friend.



but I was wondering about all the sharp corners off the edges, if you see what I mean.   It seems that they’ve beenpolished down a bit or really just the picture?

The dial really got character!

You mean that the corners of the bezel are a bit too sweet, and not that sharp…

My guess is that they of course have been polished.

But it works well with the whole look of the watch, IMO, and it doesn’t disturb me that much.

And when you have a dial like this, you’re so fascinated by it, that you completely loose the notion of Time…LOL



Hi Nicolas

                    They also had some smaller versions in limited quantities.

                    Can you tell me more about these smaller ‘cousins’

numbers than the 2121 powered jumbo’s.  Movement was based on JLC 889, a widely used “fine” movement.

They were housed in 36mm cases, with center seconds, and were produced for quite a few years before being discontinued a few years back for the 15300 with inhouse movement in a c. 39 and thicker case.

There were quite a few variants offered of this reference.



Thanks Thomas for the info.

Much obliged!

Between my Vintage jumbo, and the newer one, from the 90ies, if I’m not wrong.

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And here, the superb movement :

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The more recent is thicker than the Vintage one, but it has a sapphire case back, which allows to see this marvel.

A dilemma.




PS: Thanks to Patrice to have let me take a pic of his jumbo.
Congratulations and enjoy…