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Old 10 October 2012, 06:30 PM   #1
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AP Royal Oak 15400 Journey and Review

I posted this on my local forum
Thought I'd share it here as well.
Some local slang involved so unless you're from South East Asia, means nothing.

5th August 2012.

My day started like any other. Family breakfast at my usual dim sum restaurant.
After dim sum, we had no plans. Until my son tells me "Pa, I wanna go to 1Borneo jalan-jalan... buy Famous Amos Cookies"
It's an innocent enough request that would yield 2 weeks of sleepless nights and countless messages with my buddies.
What happened that fateful day?
After window shopping for awhile, I walked past the one and only major AD in town... decided to walk in to take a look. Well, I have been there many times... never once have I asked the sales to take out a watch for me to hold and try... Why? Since I know I ain't buying... why waste other people's time when they can serve more serious customers right?
Wrong... I was walking around the usual displays, then something caught me eye... it was a stainless steel Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref:15400 in Black Dial.
I have no idea what have gotten into me, I ask the nearest salesgirl and asked if I could take a closer look? Sure she said... (Just for the record... I was wearing a T-Shirt, Short pants and slippers if you guys need to know)
Once my mortal hands touched the brushed stainless steel case of the Royal Oak... I knew it was something special. Slap it on my wrists... Holy!! Perfect fit, curved nicely and felt excellent!!
So I thought... hey, this is a Royal Oak... an iconic piece from AP, would not be able to afford even if I wanted to. So, with my AhBeng accent I asked "How much?"
The sales girl told me that the retail was rm50200... there!! I thought... I know it was out of my league...
BUT... The salesgirl added, I can give you a discount of xx%... mental calculations were running and....
It is ACCESSIBLE to me!!!, albeit with some shuffling of the collection and departure of some.
But I told her I'd need some time to think... it's a big purchase... She agreed... handed me her card and asked me to leave my number so that she can contact me there's anything. (I swear to you that these salesgirls are trained to see if you're already poisoned!!)
Ok, went home to sleep on it.

6th - 11th August 2012.

Sleep? What sleep? To be honest I could not sleep... I was messaging my buddies on whatsapp... a group that consists of 3 other WIS spread around KL, Penang and Taiwan.
I needed a crash course on AP, what they're about and so on... and they did not disappoint. Knowledge was abundant in that group... as well as a master enabler... well... chinese would say that "if a cow does not want to drink water, you can't push the cows head down toward the water..."
So, in simpler terms, I am already poisoned... just need a nudge on the right direction...

But I do have another problem when I visited other forums and watch websites... purists seems to swear on the classic 39mm case size of the Royal Oak... So, I am in a dilemma... Besides costing less... the 39mm model seems overwhelmingly popular... instead, the 41mm seems to conjure up much hate among the Royal Oak fans...
And then there's the dial colour... since it came with 3 colours... White, Blue or Black... and I have only seen the black... So, another dilemma... White was never in the picture... but the Blue dial seems to be portrayed as THE colour of the Royal Oak.

This is where my WIS friends spread across the land came into play.

The KL fellow sacrificed his lunch break to take the LRT to Starhill to test out both the 39mm and 41mm models in blue and black to give me his honest opinions. He liked the 39mm in blue.

The Penang fellow... who like me, have never walked into a high end AD let alone asked the sales to take out the Royal Oak for him to inspect closer takes some balls... His opinion? 39mm as well... in blue.

The one residing in Taiwan, drove all the way to Taipei 101 where the AP Boutique is at... tried the 41mm and 39mm jumbo... He liked the 41mm in black.

I also posted some wristshots in some other forums and some of the responses were pretty intense... going as far as saying that the Royal Oak at 41mm looks like a plate on my wrists. Some others commented that no one else's opinion matters as much as my own. Sounds diplomatic.

Damn... all these inputs and opinions is giving me more problems than a solution.
So I decided to sleep on it again... (Who am I kidding right? I can't sleep)

39mm or 41mm?
In the end, it boils down to personal preference. Can you carry the extra 2mm? If yes, then the 41mm is the way to go. If not, then the 39mm is as good a watch. I tried the 39mm Royal Oak Chrono and I do find it too small.
Blue or Black?
This is one of the hardest decision. Reason being I have only seen the black. So how on earth would I know if the blue is not nicer? I can't... but I know deep down inside, I am a black dial guy... evident from the pieces in my collection. White dial (Damasko) blue dial (Omega Seamaster) that I owned previously are all gone...

Went to the AD again to try out the Royal Oak, still it looked ok to me...
Like and idiot I walk around the AD asking other customers... hey, looks ok to you? Too big? etc...
Then it hit me... why am I asking other people for something that I am buying for MYSELF to wear?

So, for the next 3 days, I did not wear a watch... I let my wrists "forget" the feeling of wearing a watch.
Then to the AD I went... strap it on, feels good... done deal... Deposit paid pending collection in a few days.

16th August 2012.

The day I collected the Royal Oak ref:15400.
I can never forget the feeling... I have bought and sold quite a number of watches and no journey of an acquisition is as memorable as this. To my WIS friends spread across the land, you know who you are.
It's you guys that made this journey a memorable one. The laughs, excitement, knowledge, pictures, enabling that we shared.
(Oh, and after getting the Royal Oak, I can finally sleep like a baby)

This is where I start the review. Thank for bearing with my long winded story...

THE watch.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ref:15400 Black Dial.
Looking at the whole watch, one will realize why the design has been largely unchanged since it's launching in 1972. The beauty of this Genta design is much more than any picture can portray. It has to be held in your hands... placed on your wrists... and let the eyes marvel at the finish of the watch, the interplay of polished and brushed surfaces, what different lighting effects the look of the watch.
The design carries an industrial flair... Nothing is curved except for the Octagonal Bezel that feature some curve, I am hard pressed to find any other. Everything is sharp and pronounced. 30 degree, 45 degree sharp angles are the defining design language.

The Bezel, Dial and Hands

The dial is beautiful... for the lack of a better word. It's more than beautiful actually.
From the close-up, you can actually see the concentric grooves among the tapisserie...
This pattern is called the "Grande Tapisserie" Which slips in the middle of "Petite Tapisserie" of the Jumbo and "Mega Tapisserie" of the Offshore models.
Under certain lightings, the dial looks jet black, sometimes charcoal grey, sometimes rustic brown. I am not sure what to make of it but it's hypnotic to look at I can tell you that.
The iconic octagonal bezel with 8 polished white gold screws are a sight to behold.
The interplay between polished and brushed is here as well. With the top part brushed, the mid curved part mirror polished and the bottom part brushed again.
The hands follows the design principle of using sharp corners instead of curves.
Gives it an edgy look.
One of the improvements (If I am allowed to call it that) is the return of the double hash at 12 o'clock.
I am one that felt the AP at 12 on the previous model a little design breaking.
Another welcome improvement is that now the date wheel is the same colour as the dial. Which is nothing much, but helps in the overall cohesiveness of the design.
Let me elaborate a little over here.

The picture above shows the 15400 (left) and 15300 (Right)
(These opinions are merely my own observations of the 2 models)
At 1st glance, the dial of the 15400 looks more balanced... it has hour markers on every hour, even at the 3 o'clock position even if it's half the size of the other markers.
Now looking at the 15300, the dial just looks disproportionate to me.
AP at 12 breaks the flow of the design, and the date wheel at white as well as no hour marker at 3.
This 2 "blip" on the older dial is one of the reasons why I choose the to go for the 15400.

The Bracelet

The bracelet kinda reminds me of a robotic spinal collumn.
It measures 26mm at the widest tapering to 18mm.
Since each and every link measures 5mm in length, it follows the curve of your wrists for a comfortable fit.
It just hugs your wrists snugly with no play if sized right.

The clasp.

The watch features a butterfly double clasp that is all new for the model.
(I have read that later production batches for the 15300 39mm model does carry the same clasp)
The older AP insignia clasps are no more.
There were complaints that the old clasps dig in to the skin. (whatever that means)
I can safely say that my experiences with this clasp is all good.
I have never been a big fan of double clasps, I find them troublesome to use.
The the solid construction of this new clasp changed my perception of double folding clasps... they can be good if designed properly.
The clasp closes with a reassuring and firm click... and the release is smooth.

The Crown

The crown is hexagonal with signed AP engraving.
Screw in crown, easy to handle and operate... but I am disappointed why the crown does on align when screwed in? I mean, how difficult it is to produce a crown that will always line up with the AP logo straight?

The Case

The case is well constructed. Measures a 9.8mm thick.
The interplay between brushed and polished is so detailed that it can only be told when the watch hits the light and the reflections tell you where is it polished.
The brushed areas are a class of it's own.
All brushed in the same direction which gives the watch a uniform look and shows the level of detail that went into these small areas. Run your fingers across the brushed areas and you can actually feel the lines... Try that with any other brushed surfaces of any other watch...
Another thing is that I figured alot of people would be interested in the dimensions.
So here goes.
Bezel left to right - 41mm
Case up to down before the sharp curve downwards - 43mm
Case up to down before the 1st link of the bracelet - 52mm
Dial size - 31mm
Bezel width - 5mm

The Movement

Powered by the in house AP Caliber 3120.
This movement has been fitted on the older Royal Oak 15300 since it's launching on the year 2005.
Caliber 3120 itself was produced starting from 2003.
I believe any teething problems should be rectified by now... but I haven't heard of any so far.
Beats at 21600vph... which is on the low side of today's standards.
60 hours of power reserve.
Features a solid gold rotor that is hand engraved. Beautiful piece of work.
I have read that it is impossible to damage the date wheel and date change mechanism no matter when you change the date... do I dare try it? Nope.
After wearing it for a full 7 weeks, accuracy is spot on.
One thing I do not like is when I adjust the time, push the crown back in and the minute hand "jumps"
Even if I were to line it up properly after a few tries, after a few minutes... the hands will misalign... annoys the high hell out of me to be honest.


Collection of wristshots throughout the 7 weeks. My wrist is size 6.75

I have been wearing the Royal Oak daily since the day I bought it... I can definitely say that the Royal Oak is definitely a watch to be appreciated in the flesh.
Pictures can only tell 30% of the story.

Pricing of this watch is not exactly astronomical as for the level of work put in to this timepiece, it is worth every single sen. I am sure AP could have priced it closer to it's closest rival the Patek Nautilus but chose not to... Not saying that one day it won't. Just saying that I am surprised that it is within my reach at the moment... that is why I took the plunge...

Thank you for reading and I hope some of you will go thru a journey like mine.
Not because it's an AP, but because for a watch, friends from all over took time just to satisfy my every query... all the whatsapp messaging that lasted til the wee hours of the morning.
It will forever be my most wonderful acquisition experience and I believe it will take something special to top this.
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Old 10 October 2012, 07:44 PM   #2
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Wow, what a fantastic and detailed review that kept me reading right to the end. Your photos and commentary are first rate, an amazing review, thank you!!!
Current: 116505 RG Daytona, 118206 PT Day-Date, 116718LN YG GMT-IIc, 116710LN SS GMT-IIc, 116610LV SS Sub-c aka The Hulk, Casio G-Shock G-5600E-1
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Old 11 October 2012, 04:01 AM   #3
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Great Review! Congrats on the nice watch!
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Old 11 October 2012, 04:21 AM   #4
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Beautiful written review and fantastic pics

AP Owners Club
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Old 11 October 2012, 04:56 AM   #5
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Great review, thanks for sharing. There is indeed something very spesial about an Audemars.
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Old 11 October 2012, 06:38 PM   #6
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great review!

I agree with u on the marker @ 3, but i prefer the AP @ 12.
If I had the chance, I would get a blue/black 15400 too !

But I have decided to save a lil more for a Roo Carbon Diver because of
my young age and casual style.
But make no mistakes I will definitely get a RO when the time comes for a dressier watch.
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Old 11 October 2012, 07:27 PM   #7
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Welcome to the dark side Hanz! Superb write up!
Dream the impossible, and make it possible!
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Old 11 October 2012, 09:27 PM   #8
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incredible watch and quite the post! thank you.
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Old 12 October 2012, 08:34 PM   #9
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Real tough choice between the 15300 and 15400...especially if you don't have the option to try both on at the same time.

Pics and review were great. Thanks for sharing...YNWA!
'I am easily satisfied with the very best' - Winston Churchill
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Old 16 October 2012, 04:10 AM   #10
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But I'm sorry I don't think it values the money it costs! I mean, it's too expensive for what it is!
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Old 19 October 2012, 07:56 AM   #11
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Excellent review:-) and congrats with a stunning piece.
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Old 19 October 2012, 09:01 PM   #12
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Excellent review, thanks! If I ever buy an AP, this will be the one.
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Old 20 October 2012, 06:45 AM   #13
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Great review. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 20 October 2012, 12:38 PM   #14
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Huge congrats on the beautiful time piece. Nice review and write up as well. I agree that the watch does look extraordinary in real life. Enjoy in good health!
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Old 20 October 2012, 09:11 PM   #15
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Well done.
Time never stops.
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Old 21 October 2012, 01:58 AM   #16
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I enjoy readding your review very much, thanks for sharing with us. Wish you enjoy your 15400 for many years to come.
Watching date changes every midnight
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Old 21 October 2012, 06:00 PM   #17
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Hi Hanz, I bought my Rollie at Cortina as well, surprisingly friendly and generous discount
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Old 28 October 2012, 10:13 PM   #18
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congrats. enjoyed reading your review.

wear in good health!
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Old 29 October 2012, 12:54 AM   #19
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Congrats la and the AP looks great on you. I enjoyed reading your story and I was able to comprehend every word. May I ask what was the final price you paid for this? I was at a friend's place last night and saw his one year old Royal Oak and it's the same model I believe, he paid around CAD15,000 for it.
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Old 6 November 2012, 08:37 AM   #20
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Great review. Loved every minute of it!
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Old 6 November 2012, 08:47 AM   #21
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Fantastic review and photography of a fantastic watch. Enjoy that beauty and many congrats!!!

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Old 6 November 2012, 10:15 AM   #22
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Very good read, congrats and enjoy :)
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Old 19 November 2012, 03:51 AM   #23
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Nice review!
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Old 1 February 2013, 10:17 PM   #24
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very nice
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Old 27 February 2013, 01:00 AM   #25
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Enjoyed every bit of your review!! thank you for sharing and congrats on finally getting some sleep
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Old 1 March 2013, 02:41 PM   #26
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Old 31 March 2013, 02:28 PM   #27
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Sorry for my late reply but this is one heck of a GREAT review! Love that 'long-winded' opening too as it perfectly narrated the kind of excited yet indecisive moments before pulling the trigger for a big purchase. What an enjoyable read!
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Old 3 April 2013, 04:36 AM   #28
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What a great story, and one of the best reviews I've read in a while.
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Old 4 April 2013, 08:22 AM   #29
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Great story, FANTASTIC watch!
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Old 4 April 2013, 03:24 PM   #30
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definitely my next watch, thanks for such a great detailed review
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