October 15, 20236 min Read

The Reference: Audemars Piguet Chronograph • 26022BC

By Niclas Berglund

Bezl meets the watch expert Martin from Luxury Watches.

With his many years of experience in watches, Martin’s deep knowledge is highly valued at Luxury Watches in Stockholm. He serves customers in the store, but spends most of his time valuing models that come in. It’s a task that requires great knowledge and many years of experience in the industry.

We’ve scheduled a meeting at a café in central Stockholm to talk about a timeless classic from the watch house Audemars Piguet – specifically the model Royal Oak Chronograph, reference: 26022BC with a blue dial.

Audemars Piguet, often abbreviated as AP, is considered one of the world’s most prestigious watch brands. The brand is known for its uncompromising quality, innovative design, and technically advanced movements. This model is no exception, and it represents the first Royal Oak chronograph with a 39 mm case.

Martin, what can you tell Bezl’s readers about this model?

– First and foremost, I want to mention that this is a rare specimen. The previous owner of the watch chose to install a white gold link, while the watch originally comes with a dark blue alligator strap. This upgrade makes the watch unique and more valuable. Aesthetically, I prefer this execution.

A “Pre-Loved” Audemars Piguet Chronograph in white gold.

Royal Oak Chronograph ref: 26022BC. The watch has a blue dial that changes shade depending on how the light hits the face.

Could you order this model with a bracelet from AP?

– This dial was exclusive to the 26022BC, which was paired with a leather strap. However, we do have the reference 25960BC, which came with a metal bracelet directly from the factory. This is also a 39 mm Royal Oak Chronograph in white gold.

What’s so special about this reference?

– What’s unique about this particular watch is that it was made in a very limited edition. This version with the blue dial is rare. Even though it was produced in various materials like steel, white gold, rose gold, yellow gold, and even a platinum variant, the reference also offers a range of different dials, which I think adds to its charm.

Why should one choose an Audemars Piguet ref: 26022?

– This model has a case size of 39 mm, which is the original size for the Royal Oak line. The Jumbo, ref: 5402, was the first in this size. Over time, AP has phased out the 39 mm models. Today, ref: 16202, which is a store-exclusive model, is the only Royal Oak in 39 mm. There are no 39 mm Royal Oaks in Audemars Piguet’s standard range, which makes this model particularly interesting.

The watch features a white gold bracelet, the same precious metal as the case. This model comes from the factory with a blue leather strap, which makes this particular piece special.

Why is 39 mm a size you choose to highlight?

– It’s a comfortable size to wear. The Royal Oak’s lug-to-lug length is quite long. It tends to feel larger than what the specifications indicate, so 39 mm is a size that suits many. The closest we have to 39 mm at AP today is the Royal Oak Chronograph in 38 mm. It comes with a white dial with blue sub-dials and a gray version. However, when you place them side by side, I think that ref: 26022BC, the watch we’re discussing today, has better proportions.

Can you elaborate on your reasoning regarding the proportions?

– The 39 mm model has the broader bracelet and closely resembles the Jumbo (ref: 5402, 15202, 16202), except for its thickness. However, I would like to point out that the watch we’re discussing has a thicker profile at 11.1 mm in height. This has been compensated for with a thicker bracelet, which gives a sense of balance when worn.

What do you recommend Bezl’s readers to look for in AP models?

– I recommend choosing the model that appeals most to one’s taste and trying the various sizes, as they can feel very different on the wrist. I’d particularly like to draw attention to the references 26022BC and 15300ST from Royal Oak. I believe they offer a lot of Royal Oak value for the money. Both have a 39 mm case, which I think will become increasingly sought after as AP is restrictive with which models they offer in 39 mm today. I believe it’s a perfect size where the Royal Oak really shines.

Royal Oak Chronograph ref: 26022BC has a case and bracelet made of the precious metal white gold. This is one of several variants that this model is available in.

Royal Oak Chronograph with a salmon dial. A highly sought-after dial among watch collectors.

The dial, with its glossy surface, captures light in an intriguing way.

If we return more specifically to the model we have in front of us today. How does it affect this model now that it has a bracelet? Can you elaborate on that?

– The bracelet comes from a 25960BC, which is a sibling model to the 26022BC. While the 25960BC was delivered with a bracelet from the factory, the 26022BC came with a leather strap. This upgrade was made for aesthetic reasons. The previous owner managed to obtain a bracelet that fits this model perfectly. AP’s bracelet is iconic and is strongly associated with the Royal Oak. I view this change as positive. Acquiring a bracelet from Audemars Piguet is challenging.

How important is the Royal Oak Chronograph for AP?

– It’s an essential and interesting variation of the Royal Oak, especially the reference we are discussing today, as it was the first Royal Oak chronograph from AP. I think the sub-dials complement the main dial beautifully. I also appreciate how the chronograph’s push-buttons have the same octagonal shape as the case, a lovely detail. This model is also considered the sportier option in the line with its timing function.

How do you think this model compares to its competitors? I’m thinking mainly of the Rolex Daytona and Patek Philippe’s Nautilus Chronograph ref: 5980.

– It’s a challenging comparison. The Daytona is a unique watch within Rolex’s lineup; it doesn’t share its movement or case with any other Rolex models. Patek Philippe’s 5980 is a flyback chronograph, making it technically more complex. However, the Royal Oak is more comparable to the Nautilus, as both represent haute horlogerie and therefore are craft-wise a class above the Daytona. Moreover, the Royal Oak ref: 26022BC is produced in much smaller editions than the Rolex Daytona.

This chronograph has a profile of 11.1 mm and a case that measures 39 mm.

Martin from Luxury Watches sees this particular watch as a rarity.

Is the watch in front of us a good investment?

– Definitely. It has the sought-after blue dial associated with the Royal Oak and is very popular. This particular piece also has a white gold bracelet. The white gold variant was sold to a lesser extent than, for example, steel, making this a rarity with the potential to appreciate in value.

What tips would you give to Bezl’s readers who are considering purchasing an Audemars Piguet?

– First and foremost: do your research. There are many variants of each model, and they can differ significantly in price. If you’re unsure, I recommend that you contact a specialist like me. We can guide you through the process and ensure that you get a watch that matches your preferences and budget.

Thank you, Martin, for your time and for sharing your expertise on this model.

The watch has an impressive presence on the wrist with its case and bracelet in gold.

In Conclusion

This chronograph represents the past with its 39-millimeter size, which was first introduced in 1997 and remained until 2012. Many argue that this earlier model carries with it a sense of sophistication and fit that changed with the newer 41-millimeter model.

Despite its size, the watch feels commanding on the wrist, almost as if it were in the size of 41 or 42 millimeters. However, those who desire the ultimate comfort should consider a rubber strap or an alligator strap.

The watch itself is a work of art. Every detail, from the high-quality finish to the meticulous details on the dial, speaks of care and craftsmanship. The dial sports a deep blue hue that shines under the light, complemented by fine silver details. And safety does not come second; the screwed crowns ensure that this watch is as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing. Inside the watch pulses the heart of an automatic movement, an ultra-thin chronograph of the highest quality 

To stay ahead and receive the latest updates from Bezl, follow us on our social media channels @bezlmagazine on Instagram and YouTube. We look forward to sharing our passion for watches with you!

🎥 Watch the trailer of the Audemars Piguet Chronograph 26022BC.