Why is it called Royal Oak AP? History of the Royal Oak Name
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is one of the most iconic and recognized timepieces in the world. It is considered one of the most influential and important watch designs in modern times.
We all know that the Royal Oak was designed by the renowned watch designer Gérald Genta, who is also responsible for having designed the Patek Philipe Nautilus, the Omega Constellation, the IWC Ingenieur, and many others. But at the same time, there is more confusion when it comes to the Royal Oak name. Where does the name Royal Oak come from and what does it mean?
The Royal Oak Almost became the “Safari”
Did you know that the Royal Oak was almost named the “Safari” instead of Royal Oak?
Gérald Genta proposed the name the “Safari” when he designed the Royal Oak. Genta felt that it was a suitable name for the model as it was an unprecedented sports watch that reminded of desert exploration.
In developing the model, Audemars Piguet used the name Safari internally but changed the name just before the watch was about to hit the market as they felt that the name didn’t align perfectly well with the brand image and brand identity.
To pay tribute to Gérald Genta, Audemars Piguet later created the Royal Oak Offshore Safari reference 26470ST with a white dial and brown crocodile leather strap as a tribute to Genta.
The story of the Royal Oak name?
So where does the name that would ultimately give the name to this iconic model come from? Well, it’s actually quite of an interesting story.
It’s easy to believe that the name has a direct connection with a tree, and in a way, it does. But only indirectly. Audemars Piguet took the name from something that in turn took its name from a tree. Since the Royal Oak is a sports watch that was inspired by a diver’s helmet with its octagonal bezel and exposed screws, it made sense to use a nautical-inspired name.
As such, Audemars Piguet came up with the name Royal Oak which is inspired by a series of eight vessels of Britain’s Royal Navy. This is yet another interesting connection to the model seeing that the bezel is octagonal.
The story of the birth of the Royal Oak name goes all the way back to 1651 when the English Civil War took place. In the last battle of Britain, the Royalists ended up in Worcester. This has later come to become known as the Battle of Worcester. Charles Stuart (the future King Charles II of England), the heir to the throne had to run for his life and find a hideout from the Roundheads who were the supporters of the Parliament of England during the English Civil War, also known as Parliamentarians.
The Roundheads were against King Charles I of England, and naturally, all of his heirs who claimed rule by absolute monarchy and according to the divine right of kings. The goal of the Roundhead party was to establish a Parliament with supreme control over executive administration of the country/kingdom. And in that mission, the Royals were in the way.
Charles Stuart tried to get out of the country but failed to cross the River Severn to Wales. Instead, he and his companion ended up at Boscobel House in Shropshire.
The house had many different secret hiding places but it was deemed that these hideouts were too risky and obvious places to seek shelter from the Parliamentarian troops. As such, they had to look for a different hideout. Charles and his partner opted for a large oak tree that stood right in front of the house. Thanks to the shape of the tree with its canopy, it was deemed a perfect hideout place where it was unlikely that the enemies would find him.
This oak proved to be a perfect hideout place as the house was searched but no one thought to search in the tree. After six weeks, Stuart made a successful escape to France.
In 1660, he was restored to the crown and the incredible story of how he successfully escaped from the Roundheads by hiding in the tree became very popular. The day is today remembered by the English as Royal Oak Day. After the event, Charles told the story of how a Parliamentarian soldier passed directly below the tree as he was hiding in it.
In 1664, the navy launched a new ship, equipped with 100 guns and King Charles named it The Royal Oak as a tribute to the tree that saved him and the material from which the ship was built.
The Royal Oak was later burnt down by the Dutch navy but the name continued to be used by all eight ships.
With this intriguing story in mind, it explains how the name was perfect for the new watch. It has royalty and it has a nautical connection.
Why is the Royal Oak called jumbo?
In 1972, Audemars Piguet released the Royal Oak reference 5402. This watch was designed with a 39mm case which was considered very large at the time. The name “Jumbo” refers to the large 39mm case of the Royal Oak and it is a name that Audemars Piguet still uses to this day.