Audemars Piguet’s most famous watch is an icon… But it’s also extremely difficult (and expensive) to get your hands on one. So what do you do when you can’t get a Royal Oak? Never fear: we’ve come up with some great alternatives that won’t leave you feeling left out.
Designed by the legendary Gérald Genta, the Royal Oak isn’t just AP’s most iconic watch, but arguably the most iconic watch on the planet. It was the world’s first luxury sports watch: bold, purposeful yet incredibly refined, with a killer integrated bracelet, it redefined haute horlogerie and remains one of the most sought-after timepieces on the planet. Name-dropped by rappers, seen on the wrists of the rich and famous… There are few watches with the same sort of cache as a Royal Oak.
And that’s precisely the issue. Because it’s so famous, it’s very hard to actually get one. Whilst at Watches & Wonders earlier this year, the DMARGE team visited the Geneva AP boutique and they told us that the wait list for a standard 41mm Royal Oak in stainless steel (a ref. 15510ST) was 18 years! Of course, not every AP boutique would have such an insane waitlist, but you get the picture: Royal Oaks are in demand.
That’s before we even talk about how much one costs: a ref. 15510ST costs around $44,000 AUD at retail, which is about the same price as two Rolex Daytonas – another watch that’s famously impossible to get at retail…
So, we’ve come up with a few quality alternatives to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak that you’ll be able to get within your lifetime and for a hell of a lot less coin. They’ve all got the three things that make the Royal Oak so popular: an integrated bracelet, a utilitarian design and are available in a wide variety of colours, sizes and materials – and some even have distinct advantages over the Royal Oak.
So without further ado, here’s our guide to the best alternatives to the Royal Oak you should consider buying.
In this Royal Oak alternatives article…
Chopard Alpine Eagle
First up, we have the Chopard Alpine Eagle: a stunning alternative to the Royal Oak from a highly-respected watchmaker and jeweller and one with boatloads of heritage to boot. First released in 2019, the Alpine Eagle might resemble the Royal Oak but it actually takes design cues from the Chopard St. Moritz of 1980, which itself was one of the first integrated bracelet luxury sports watches.
We reckon the Alpine Eagle sits in a sweet spot where it’s clearly very similar to the Royal Oak, but distinct enough to not be a copycat and be appreciated on its own merits. It’s also got a leg up on the Royal Oak in many key areas: its in-house movement is COSC-certified (while AP’s movements are not), its bracelet is way more comfortable than a Royal Oak’s, and it’s twice as water-resistant as a standard Royal Oak.
The best bit? Its dial. While the Royal Oak’s “tapisserie” hobnail dial might be iconic, the Alpine Eagle’s gloriously textured dial – which is designed to evoke the iris of an eagle – is even more mesmerising.
Like the Royal Oak, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato is another integrated bracelet luxury sports watch from a respected independent watchmaker that was first released in the 70s. Fun fact: it’s actually named after the famous 1967 Dustin Hoffman film The Graduate (Laureato is Italian for ‘graduate’).
Also like the Royal Oak, the Laureato features an octagonal bezel and a hobnail dial, although the Laureato’s case and bracelet are far more shapely than the Royal Oak’s. However, the Laureato is available in a range of materials that the Royal Oak isn’t: you can get a Laureato with a forged carbon fibre or a sapphire crystal case, for example.
Prestigious, refined and incredibly wearable, the Laureato is quickly gaining a following among watch enthusiasts as an alternative to the Royal Oak that doesn’t make you look like you’re slumming it.
Baume & Mercier Riviera
Simply put, the Baume & Mercier Riviera is great bang for your buck and a really underrated choice from an underrated Swiss brand, regardless of whether or not you’re looking for an alternative to the Royal Oak.
Its design – featuring a dodecahedral bezel with four exposed screws – also dates back to the 70s. Are you seeing a theme here? It’s available in a wide range of sizes and colours, although it’s not available in precious metals or with high complications. It does, however, have a new dive watch variant, the Riviera Azur 300, which resembles the Royal Oak Offshore…
This Riviera’s Baumatic movement, with its whopping 5-day (120-hour) power reserve, is arguably its biggest selling point. We’re also big fans of this model’s smoked black sapphire dial, which features a wave motif and gives the Riviera a real haute horlogerie feel without a haute horlogerie price tag.
IWC Schaffhausen Ingenieur
The Royal Oak might be the first luxury sports watch Gérald Genta might have penned, but it was by no means the only one. In 1976, the maestro also designed the IWC Schaffhausen Ingenieur SL ‘Jumbo’, a stylish take on the iconic engineer’s watch that IWC has revived in the form of the new Ingenieur Automatic 40.
The Genta family resemblance is obvious: exposed screws, an integrated bracelet, a grid-textured dial… You get the picture. The new Ingenieur also features the same movement as the Baume above, meaning it’s got a hefty 5-day power reserve and 100m of water resistance, giving it a clear edge over the Royal Oak.
Available in steel or titanium, the new Ingenieur – with its Genta DNA, tasteful design and exceptional bracelet (something not a lot of people talk about is how relatively uncomfortable the Royal Oak’s bracelet is) – is a more than credible alternative to the Royal Oak.
WATCH us get up, close and personal with the new IWC Schaffhausen Ingenieur below.
Zenith Defy Skyline
Zenith only released the Defy Skyline last year, and it’s already proven to be one of the brand’s biggest hits. A bold new take on the integrated luxury sports watch, its most unique feature is its 1/10th of a second indicator at 9 o’clock – a superficially useless yet fun complication that cleverly hints at the El Primero movement that powers the watch.
We’re big fans of its dial texture, too: a sunburst finish with small star-shaped elements pockmarking its surface which reference the emblematic Zenith four-pointed star. It’s a complex finish that catches the light in an intriguing way. There’s also a cracking skeletonised version of the Defy Skyline, too.
Unlike the Royal Oak (and many integrated bracelet watches, actually), the Zenith Defy Skyline also has a killer strap quick-change system, making it a cinch to swap on a rubber strap… And the Defy Skyline’s rubber strap is a cut above the rest.
Christopher Ward The Twelve
Now for something a little bit different. Founded in 2005, Christopher Ward is an English-Swiss watch brand that used to be considered a ‘microbrand‘ – but has since become so successful, that label doesn’t really make sense any more. A purveyor of eclectic, innovative, finely-crafted yet affordable timepieces, Christopher Ward is a darling of watch aficionados across the globe.
Their latest creation, The Twelve, is their first integrated bracelet watch in well over a decade. Christopher Ward makes no secret of being inspired by the Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus (another Genta creation), but as they put it, “The Twelve brings the pleasures of such pieces with none of the downsides.”
The Twelve’s dial is easily its best feature, featuring a texture constructed of plus-shaped ‘moguls’ which both reference the Christopher Ward logo and the Swiss flag but also evoke the Royal Oak’s hobnail dial without being totally derivative. Powered by the tried-and-tested Sellita SW200-1 movement, it promises Royal Oak fun at a fraction of the price.
Hublot Big Bang Integrated
Gérald Genta was inspired by old diver’s helmets when he made the Royal Oak, and by ocean liner’s portholes when he made the Nautilus. ‘Hublot‘ means ‘porthole’ in French, and just like Genta, this Swiss brand’s designs have distinctly nautical roots – just look at Hublot’s signature bezel design with its exposed screws. That’s why we had to include a Hublot on this list.
The Big Bang Integrated is probably the best and most natural alternative to a Royal Oak in Hublot’s range, if only because it has an integrated bracelet (hence the name). The watch’s skeletonised dial also evokes the myriad Royal Oaks with skeletonised or ‘openworked’ dials in Audemars Piguet’s repertoire.
Unlike the Royal Oak, the Big Bang Integrated isn’t available in stainless steel, but it is available in titanium, ceramic and precious metals. It also puts out the same sort of vibe as a Royal Oak: it’s brash, it’s eye-catching, it oozes money. We think it makes sense as an alternative.
We couldn’t make this list without including the Tissot PRX. You’d be forgiven for thinking that when Tissot reintroduced the PRX in 2021, that they were simply cashing in on all the Royal Oak hype, but no, the PRX actually dates back to 1978 – it’s a contemporary of the Royal Oak and has real credibility.
But let’s not beat around the bush: one of the main reasons this watch is so incredibly popular is that it offers that Royal Oak aesthetic (especially with that hobnail dial) at an exceedingly accessible price point. Honestly, we don’t know how Tissot does it for the money. Anti-reflective sapphire crystal, an 80-hour power reserve, a nice combination of matte and brushed finishes… It’s a knockout at any price.
That said, the PRX also comes in quartz variants for those who want to save even more coin – but we reckon you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t get the automatic.
Casio G-Shock GA-2100 “CasiOak”
Okay, okay, you’re not really going to fool anyone into thinking your “CasiOak” is an actual Royal Oak, but we couldn’t exclude it from this list. First released in 2020, the Casio G-Shock GA-2100 was quickly dubbed the “CasiOak” by watch fans thanks to its Royal Oak-esque octagonal bezel, although that’s about where the similarities end.
Unlike the Royal Oak, this is an ana-digi quartz watch without an integrated bracelet per se… And it’s definitely not luxurious. What it is, is cheap. Very cheap. For the same price as a Royal Oak, you could buy hundreds of CasiOaks and still have plenty of change left over. It’ll also beat all but the most complicated Royal Oaks as far as complications are concerned, and comes in all the colours of the rainbow – there are even metal variants of the CasiOak.
Some enterprising watch modders have even come up with mods for the CasiOak that give it a Royal Oak-style bezel and metal integrated bracelet if you’re into that sort of thing. Is it a proper Royal Oak alternative? Not really. But it’s a cool watch and we’d be remiss to omit it.
Two deliberate omissions from this list are the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Vacheron Constantin Overseas, the two integrated bracelet options from Audemars Piguet’s fellow ‘Holy Trinity’ brands. However, seeing as the Overseas and Nautilus (particularly the Nautilus) are just as hard to get your hands on as a Royal Oak, it seems moot to suggest them as an alternative – and if you want a Royal Oak, you’re probably not cross-shopping one against those two watches anyway.
Of course, if your heart is set on the AP brand (and if you want to build more of a relationship with your dealer to help you eventually get that Royal Oak), you could invest in a Code 11.59. Sure, it doesn’t have an integrated bracelet and lacks some of the panache of the Royal Oak, but in stainless steel, it represents the most affordable entry point into the AP family – and on a fabric strap, it’s a rather sporty piece. Just something to consider.