Back in 1972 many laughed in disbelieve as AP presented their idea of what a new sports watch should be. Gerald Genta's creation was to most critics weird, awkward, way too expensive, way too large, had too many edges, etc... Look at the Oak today. I must admit that while I fall in and out of love with many watches all the time, the Jumbo is something special.
If I were to give specific reasons as to why I revere the Jumbo so much... this would be the list:
- It opened an era. The sport watch "theme" had until then not been addressed by the high-end guys like Patek and Vacheron.
- It is by far the most versatile watch I own. It looks good with a tuxedo, a suit, a casual shirt, a polo shirt and a bathing suit.
- It's only understood by few. If you spot somebody else with a Jumbo you know he knows his watches.
- It's very comfortable and light. Because it is so thin, it is a joy to wear.
- It's inconspicuous. Unless spotted by a connoisseur it will attract very little attention.
- Its proportions are very well balanced. In fact they are so well conceived that they have remained unchanged in now 34 years.
- It's the only thing that I know (car, building, fashion, etc...) designed in the 70's that is beautiful and still made today. Apart from a sapphire back and a more evolved clasp it's the same watch.
- With the 2121 calibre in its guts you own a piece of horological history. Many consider the 2121 calibre the 12 cylinder engine of the industry.
- It DOES NOT have a seconds hand. It has thought, the most essential things on a watch; hours, minutes and the date.
Once its success started to be apparent many have asked Genta to design them an Oak as well. Genta's creations for Patek, Vacheron, IWC and Girard-Perregaux shared some success yet nothing close to the original Royal Oak. Patek's Nautilus could be a contender yet their production limitations don't really make them a threat. In order to really compete you must have items in stock and on display. Right now the Nautilus, especially the larger models, are in much larger demand than their actual production. You can't just go to your round-the-corner Patek dealer and buy one. The other three are just dragging their feet...
p.s. Some time ago AP made this skeletonized Jumbo and it has not really done a lot of "noise" since then. Weird, it is a beautiful piece of equipment. I had the chance to hold the nº1 and believe me, it's a beauty. It is a bit thiner than the Jumbo since it holds the 2120 calibre. The 2120 is the variant of the 2121 calibre but without the date. This makes the case about one millimeter thiner.