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The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
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The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch

By Nick Kenyon
3 May 2024
7min read

If you appreciate what the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has to offer, but are hunting something slightly different, these are your best alternatives.

 

When the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was first released in 1972, it marked the dawn of a new chapter in watchmaking: the stainless steel luxury sports watch. More than half a century later it remains coveted by watch collectors worldwide, with almost every major watchmaker offering their own interpretation of the now-ubiquitous integrated bracelet design. 

The near-universal appeal of the Royal Oak is thanks to several different elements that come together in the watch. Not only is there an everyday, hard-wearing appeal that comes with a timepiece hewn in stainless steel, but the Gerald Genta-designed integrated case and bracelet offer a supreme level of comfort on the wrist. 

Fortunately for enthusiasts today, the range of watches that draw some level of inspiration from the original Royal Oak are almost endless. So if you’re hunting for a Royal Oak-esque timepiece to add to the collection, here are some of the best alternatives to the iconic Audemars Piguet sports watch on the market today. 

Patek Philippe Nautilus Moonphase Ref. 5712

The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
Not only was Ref. 5712 also designed by Gerald Genta a few years after the Royal Oak in 1976, but its horological importance and enormous popularity are just as significant.

No list of the best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak alternatives would be complete without mentioning the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Not only was it also designed by Gerald Genta a few years after the Royal Oak in 1976, but its horological importance and enormous popularity are just as significant. 

While the time-and-date Nautilus is another icon within the watch world, the thoughtful collector understands what the ref. 5712 has to offer, boasting the additional complications of a moonphase, power reserve indicator and seconds subdial. Measuring 40mm in diameter and cased in stainless steel, it’s powered by the calibre 240 PS IRM C LU with 48 hours of power reserve.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas

The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
This specific Overseas ref. 4500V/110A-B126 features an eye-catching sunray brushed silver dial that pairs perfectly with the brushed surfaces of the case and bracelet

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas is the third and final integrated sports watch from the so-called “Holy Trinity” watchmakers, first launched the year after the Nautilus in 1977 as the 222 collection. The 222 has today evolved into the Overseas collection you see before you, but it still retains much of the original Jorg Hysek design DNA including the angular case shape and notched bezel. 

This specific Overseas ref. 4500V/110A-B126 features an eye-catching sunray brushed silver dial that pairs perfectly with the brushed surfaces of the case and bracelet, with polished contrasting elements found on the bezel and case flanks. As a proper sports watch, it enjoys no less than 150m of water resistance, while beneath the silver dial is the automatic calibre 5100 powering this sleekly designed timepiece. 

Girard-Perregaux Laureato

The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
The Laureato remains one of Girard-Perregaux’s most popular watches and features a 42mm stainless steel case and the historically inspired octogon-in-a-circle bezel

Another excellent alternative to the Royal Oak is the Girard-Perregaux Laureato, which was born in the same generation as the aforementioned watches in this list after being first launched in 1975. Designed by the Milanese architect Adolfo Natalini and named somewhat prophetically the graduate, it embodied the same quintessential 70s style with sharp lugs, an angular bezel, and a patterned dial. 

Today, the Laureato remains one of Girard-Perregaux’s most popular watches and features a 42mm stainless steel case and the historically inspired octogon-in-a-circle bezel, while being powered by the automatic calibre GP01800-0008 with 54 hours of power reserve. With an enchanting deep blue dial and an undeniably wearable profile on the wrist, the Laureato is a contemporary classic. 

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Steel

The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
With an unmistakably slender profile on the wrist, resplendent with polished light-reflecting angular surfaces, the Octo Finissimo enjoys one of the strongest designs in watchmaking today

While its aesthetic roots can also be traced back to the Gerald Genta name, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo we know and love today is the result of a much more recent vision, driven by the one and only Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani. With an unmistakably slender profile on the wrist, resplendent with polished light-reflecting angular surfaces, the Octo Finissimo enjoys one of the strongest designs in watchmaking today and has all the hallmarks of a future classic. 

The earliest Octo Finissimo watches of this generation were crafted using titanium, however, as the collection expanded other materials including stainless steel were used, with this 40mm reference with a black dial one of the more desirable. Powered by the ultra-thin automatic calibre BVL 138 (with 60 hours of power reserve), you don’t need kit gloves to wear this 100m water-resistant timepiece, which articulately balances elegance and sportiness. 

Atelier Wen X Revolution Perception – XI "喜"

The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For a Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
The eye-catching red dial of this watch has been expertly finished with écailles de poisson guilloché by Master Cheng Yu Cai

If you’re hunting for a Royal Oak alternative that’s a little more off the beaten path, this attractive collaboration between Atelier Wen and the Wei Koh-founded watch-collecting magazine Revolution should be of interest. Crafted from 40mm of titanium, the star of the show is the eye-catching red dial that has been expertly finished by Master Cheng Yu Cai with écailles de poisson guilloché. Limited to just 100 pieces worldwide, this reference also enjoys 100m of water resistance and 41 hours of power reserve when fully wound. 

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF 42 Chronograph

The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
Tonda PF 42 Chronograph in rose gold might not feature the everyday robustness of stainless steel, but remains an excellent Royal Oak alternative thanks to its considered proportions and svelte profile

Within the world of fine watchmaking, Parmigiani Fleurier is a name that remains under the radar of many despite the sophistication of its timepieces and the strength of its designs. One such example is this Tonda PF 42 Chronograph in rose gold, which might not feature the everyday robustness of stainless steel, but remains an excellent Royal Oak alternative thanks to its considered proportions and svelte profile. With 100m of water resistance, you can comfortably take it for a dip, while the column-wheel-equipped calibre PF070 sets you up with 65 hours of power reserve. 

H. Moser x UNDEFEATED Streamliner Limited Edition

The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
H. Moser x UNDEFEATED Streamliner Limited Edition ref. 6902-1206 features a 42mm stainless steel case that’s paired perfectly with the brand’s innovative wavy bracelet

A truly modern integrated bracelet design arrives in the H. Moser x UNDEFEATED Streamliner Limited Edition ref. 6902-1206, which was a 2022 collaboration between the Swiss watchmaker and the LA-based streetwear brand. It features a 42mm stainless steel case that’s paired perfectly with the brand’s innovative wavy bracelet, as well as a carefully engraved and lacquered dial. The flyback chronograph function is powered by the automatic calibre HMC 902, while the case is rated to 120m of water resistance. 

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton features a 70s-inspired angular case, crafted in 41mm of stainless steel and rated to 100m of water resistance

Another unmistakably contemporary design with an integrated case and bracelet is the Zenith Defy Skyline, with a meticulously skeletonised dial that borders on the futuristic. It features a 70s-inspired angular case, crafted in 41mm of stainless steel and rated to 100m of water resistance, while the visibly oscillating movement within is the automatic calibre El Primero 3620 SK which features 60 hours of power reserve. If the Royal Oak was designed today, it might look a little like this. 

Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph

The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
While you won't find the classic case angles of the 1970s in this Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph, there's the thoughtfully designed integrated case and bracelet that not only looks great, but is remarkably comfortable on the wrist

While we don’t find the classic case angles of the 1970s in the Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph, we do find a thoughtfully designed integrated case and bracelet that not only looks great, but is remarkably comfortable on the wrist too. With a bracelet constructed using articulated rubber segments, the black and white panda dial is a proper head-turner and hides the calibre B130 within. Cased in 40mm of aluminium and featuring a hypoallergenic titanium caseback, it’s a sports watch designed to handle anything you throw at it. 

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph

The Best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For A Seriously Sleek Sports Watch
This specific reference is from 2018 and features an unmissable blue dial and strap, a 42mm stainless steel case, and is powered by the calibre AP 3126/3840

Lastly, we have a slightly cheeky selection, but a valid alternative to the Royal Oak thanks to how differently it wears and the impression it offers on the wrist. Sure, the Royal Oak Offshore is the descendent of the original slim-line Royal Oak, but when Emmanuel Gueit revealed his exaggerated and oversized design in 1989 it offered a remarkably different vision of watchmaking design and found success with a new generation of watch lovers. This specific reference is from 2018 and features an unmissable blue dial and strap, a 42mm stainless steel case, and is powered by the calibre AP 3126/3840.

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