The Pink Gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

There are certain aesthetic decisions that exist as anomalies – fashion choices committed with a flagrant disregard for any preconceived ideas of wardrobe logic or inherent style instincts. These choices can only be categorized as instant (material) attraction. This lapse in sartorial judgment boils down to a je ne sais quoi, a zing, an I-knew-the-second-I-met-you feeling. In French, they call it un coup de foudre, which translates directly to “a strike of lightning,” which I’m not sure I felt when I first held this new rose gold Royal Oak, but I felt a baby jolt of adrenaline. That’s a lot to feel on your “first date” with a watch.

These less calculated, more go-with-your-gut wardrobe decisions happen to me periodically. I feel the need to explain this because, well, how else do I explain the reason a staunch yellow gold lover like me would even pick up a fully rose gold watch off the tray, let alone write an entire article about a new rose gold Royal Oak?

My abhorrence towards pinkish hues of gold has, over the past two years, softened into a mild distaste. Rose gold feels like that tiny accidental piece of citrus pith I can politely tolerate, swallow, and deal with; bitter but not overwhelmingly blistering. I have learned to like vintage rose gold, because a pink-on-pink ref. 1518 is a superior breed of rose. Vintage rose gold is pale and soft. Modern rose gold often feels brash and gaudy. I can, of course, admire the look of a rose gold Rolex ref. 6062, but I’ll pass on the rose gold Panthère or Everose Day date, thanks. According to my Swiss watch media counterparts, rose gold is the hue of choice on the continent. They dismiss yellow as “granny gold.”

Back here in my little NYC bubble, yellow gold is the undefeated champion of the 18-35-year-old contingent. Likely because it ties in with whatever #aesthetic is trending on TikTok (see mob-wife aesthetic), but also because NYC has always been a yellow gold mecca. Just take a trip to Canal Street, or 47th Street, and look at the fading photographic homages to ’90s and ’00s rap music superstars – adorned 90% of the time in yellow gold. It’s a yellow gold lifestyle by way of Tito the Jeweler’s chains for Biggie Smalls, teenage girls wearing nameplate necklaces, and women adorned in giant door-knocker earrings and gold nugget rings – all of these being important references baked into New York City’s jewelry culture.

When I am presented with a rose gold novelty, my eyes can’t help but glaze over. It’s just not for me or my fashion-loving cohort. It doesn’t have the glamor of the 1970s (Elsa Peretti), the opulence of the ’80s (Bulgari-laden Sharon Stone in Casino), or the cool confidence of the ’90s (Run-DMC Dookie rope chains). Yellow gold fever amongst my peers prevails, and I see no signs of it changing in the near future.

Now for a pink gold (or rose gold, or whatever you wanna call it because that’s a whole debate unto itself) plot twist! Earlier this week I took a little trip to AP house to preview their newest novelties. I went in hot for the 37mm frosted yellow gold with smoked dial. I proceeded to try it on and did my usual press breakfast routine: take a million pictures of the same watch on my wrist while chasing the light around the room – ultimately resulting in a pretty generic here-is-my-hottest-novelty-pick for Instagram photo that 20 other people will also post that same day. I sipped on my green juice and nervously chit-chatted the way one does when crammed into a room full of journalists you run into weekly on the watch event circuit. Please, no more small talk about dial colors or the upcoming trade show! And then I saw her. The 34mm pink-on-pink Royal Oak shining brightly in solitude on a black velvet-lined tray. This watch was simple and pure. There was no mystification by way of marketing, no watchy gimmick. Just a simple self-winding Royal Oak, its color combination so impactful it felt like a coral oasis for my eyes. Yes, we have all seen a million Royal Oaks, and we all know the familiar chime of “Oh, another Royal Oak, how original.” But hey, you can’t beat a classic. I don’t see anybody complaining about Rolex GMTs. It’s a staple, like a Chanel Flap bag or a Gucci loafer. These fashion accessory pillars can come in a million shades or textures or sizes and look totally fresh again when executed as perfectly as this pink-on-pink dream watch.

The magic of this Royal Oak comes down to its very juicy Grande Tapisserie dial. The shade of fleshy coral pink reminded me of all the pink hues I find myself spiritually tied to: the pink print of the Financial Times, pink Skittles, Dior Lip oil in 001 pink, and Selina Kyle’s pink apartment in Batman Returns. The dial is a tropical hue, far from a once trendy millennial pink or Sophia Coppola pink, more of a regal shade that you could easily pantone match with a silk shoe or duchess satin gown from Coppola’s rendition of Marie Antoinette. I reckon it’s a shade of pink that appeases even the most unwavering of bubblegum pink cynics.

I then went on to imagine what type of individual would wear this watch. Is this a woman on her French Riviera vacation, wearing it oh-so nonchalantly on her wrist as she takes a dip in the warm, shallow, and turquoise waters of the Mediterranean? A woman, who even in the company of her most fashionable yellow-gold-adorned friends, would gently tug at her crisp white caftan sleeve to proudly reveal a little glimmer of pink. Perhaps this belongs on the wrist of a man who wears beautifully embellished Dries Van Noten suits, his sense of style anchored in being original but always done in good taste.

Maybe it was the small size that made the pink gold palatable? Or the graphic Royal Oak shape that stopped it from being twee? There’s a neo-vintage platinum and rose gold QP with a pink mother-of-pearl dial and subdials displayed behind a glass case in the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet in Le Brassus. It’s beautiful and marshmallowy in color, but it’s busy (by design, no doubt). Layers of stone, varying shades of creamy pink and tiny delicate diamond indices set inside of a platinum octagonal frame make the use of rose gold on the ref. 25686RP nuanced.

There is a uniformity of color on this watch; the pink dial cancels out the pink metal and makes it yellowish… It’s like looking at a Pantone strip of paint colors that turns you fuzzy-eyed when trying to decipher between shades but still contrasting enough that they have their own color names: Salmon Rose 15-1626 TPG and Peach Bellini 20-0050. It’s a pink-on-pink deception, and I’ve fallen for it.

So you see, I am always willing to be convinced. Even when it comes to pink watches. I’d rather have my mind opened and all of my inherent opinions shattered into smithereens at the behest of one single novelty because I enjoy being challenged (by objects, not humans). I am willing to have my aesthetic belief system burnt to dust if it means that I can enjoy something pretty. And all because somebody very clever paired the exact right shade of rose with the perfect color pink dial, turning even the most stubborn yellow-gold loyalist into a person who dabbles in pink.

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