A few days ago, I had the opportunity to meet the owner of a very rare watch: the Royal Oak Jumbo 14802 in platinum. Indeed, we don't see such watch on every street corner because only 8 pieces were produced. The history behind this particular Jumbo is very interesting to tell and it explains the reason why the movement is not decorated what seems to be very strange for a high-end watch!
The superb dial:
The Jumbo 14802 in platinum was designed in the context of the 125th anniversary of Audemars Piguet which was celebrated in 2000. Several prototypes were created the year before to be presented to dealers and distributors to test the market reactions. Beyond the feeling on the wrist which was very different from the one of the stainless steel version due to the very heavy structure of the watch (more than 220g), these prototypes distinguised themselves through their dials which were made of a blue stone (which could be lapis-lazuli). This stone gave a granular texture, a bit like a tremblage, very far from the geometric rigour of the "Petite Tapisserie" pattern. This dial changes the visual rendering of the watch which seems to be more casual... while at the same time keeping its subtle and refined touch.
The watch is heavy but remains very comfortable because the weight is well spread thanks to the bracelet:
The big issue faced by the Jumbo 14802 in platinum was its suggested retail price which was set taking into account the very high production costs and the long production schedules. Then Audemars Piguet had to face the reality: the retailers forwarded the feedbacks from the potential clients which were hesitating a lot about the purchase of such piece. It is the reason why Audemars Piguet took the decision to not officially launch this watch and to give up the production of the expected 125 pieces. The capacity of the market to absorb such number of expensive two hands watches was very low and we don't have to forget that we also were in the context of the burst of the Internet bubble. The brand preferred to sell to some selected retailers the eight prototypes which were assembled. And so a watch which was not fully completed became available!
The caliber 2120:
Actually, it is easy to see that the watch was not completed: the caliber 2120 was not decorated. Forget the engraved gold winding mass, the movement looks as it is before receiving the specific Jumbo finishes work. Of course, the will from Audemars Piguet was to fully decorate especially in this Anniversary context!
At the end, the Jumbo 14802 in platinum is a paradoxical watch. It is an impressive watch to wear due to its weight. Moreover, the beauty of the dial immediately attracts the eye. But on the other hand, the visual rendering of the caliber 2120 reminds us that it was not fully completed. But who cares after all? This lack of decoration is just an additional element which reinforces the singularity, the originality and the charm of this watch. And the caliber 2120, even with such presentation remains a nice looking movement due to its thin architecture.
The indisputable charm of this watch:
I would like to thank a lot the happy owner of this watch and William Massena for having published several years ago the information I used in this article.