The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is one of the finest and most celebrated creations of the Swiss watchmaker and designer Gérald Genta. The original timepiece debuted at the Basel Fair in 1972 and went on to spawn the most popular line for the watch brand. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Royal Oak, Sotheby’s had announced a few months back a unique auction as a tribute to the watchmaking genius that would include one hundred of Genta’s original watch designs, drawings, and watercolor paintings sourced from his estate, led by his wife Evelyne Genta. The Gérald Genta: Icon of Time auction was split into three sales and the first one concluded on February 24 with the hammer dropping on a total of 31 lots. The most valuable item to be sold is an “Original prototype design of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak” that ended up fetching CHF 564,500 (about $611,500).
The original design from 1972 of the ionic watch is a watercolor-on-paper artwork that features all the details and design elements of the Royal Oak. Personally signed by Gérald Genta himself, the artwork also came with an accompanying NFT with digital certificates to prove its authenticity. It’s interesting that no pre-sale estimates were given by the auction house. But it’s anyway difficult to put a value on such a rare and collectible item. It turns out that the artwork was acquired by Audemars Piguet by making the winning bid with only eight seconds left on the clock. According to Hodinkee, the prototype design will be put on display at the AP’s impressive Bjarke Ingels-designed museum that was completed in 2020. The Gérald Genta: Icon of Time auction will conclude in Geneva in May 2022 where the watchmaker’s personal Royal Oak will also hit the block.