Audemars Piguet Celebrates Royal Oak’s 50th Anniversary With Carolina Bucci-Designed Limited Edition Watch

Black ceramic meets oil slick-inspired rainbows in this striking, $55,000 timepiece.

(Audemars Piguet)

Since legendary watch designer Gerald Genta crafted the now-iconic Royal Oak for its 1972 debut, Audemars Piguet’s most heralded model has etched a place in the pantheon of iconic horology alongside the Patek Philippe Nautlius, Rolex Submariner, and other beloved baubles. To celebrate the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary, famed jewelry designer Carolina Bucci is giving it a luxe makeover.

Bucci’s Royal Oak love was cemented well before she began a six-year partnership with Audemars Piguet, when years ago she spotted a 1982 example in 36mm yellow gold on the wrist of an NYC passerby.

(Audemars Piguet)

“I had no idea what it was but it caught my attention — especially the proportions on the wrist,” Bucci said on her website, noting qualities including “boldness, without being shiny,” and the “goldness of the gold.” After failing to covertly identify the fleeting watch and later consulting a salesperson to no avail, her husband finally tracked down the yellow gold apple of her eye for her 35th birthday

“It was exactly what I wanted,” recalled Bucci. “I put it on my wrist and from then on I stopped wearing all my other watches. It worked fantastically with all my jewellery to the point that I never took it off — it became my uniform.”

(Audemars Piguet)

Bucci’s third Royal Oak iteration is distinct from her most famous Audemars Piguet collab—the Frost Gold Royal Oak. The namesake precious metal is nowhere to be found on the Royal Oak Selfwinding 50th Anniversary. Instead, a black 34mm ceramic case surrounds a version of the famed, mosaic-like Tapisserie dial rendered in rainbow colors. Not the traditional “lazy and obvious” rainbow palette, as Bucci puts it, but the multi-colors found in slicks of oil merged with city puddles.

“It’s not anything beautiful but about beauty in unexpected places,” explains Bucci of the all ceramic watch. “Here you have every color of the spectrum, on black, which is itself the absence of color.”

(Audemars Piguet)

The effect is created by a sapphire plate of micro-studded squares set on the brass dial plate, the back of which was treated with a special golden metallization process to create a mirror effect that channels light to the dial. A black ceramic bracelet completes the color-contrasting aesthetic.

Limited to 300 units, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding 50th Anniversary by Carolina Bucci is available to purchase for $54,200 via appointment.