While many wristwatches become legendary years after their introduction into the market place, Audemars Piguet timepieces from the mid-twentieth century often rose to iconic status almost immediately due to their exquisite quality, superb aesthetics, technical ingenuity, and extremely limited production numbers. The present reference 5516 perpetual calendar wristwatch is such an iconic watch. Made in 1957, it is one of just nine examples manufactured by Audemars Piguet for what was the first serially produced perpetual calendar wristwatch model to display a leap year indication. For over two decades, no other brand would offer a perpetual calendar with leap year indicator until 1981, when Patek Philippe introduced the reference 3450. The first three examples of the reference 5516 featured the leap year indication at 6 o’clock with the months fully spelled out, while the later six watches displayed the leap year subsidiary dial at 12 o’clock. The months are removed, and in their place a modern minimalistic dial reading; ‘first year’, ‘second year’, ‘third year’ and ‘leap year’. The present watch is an outstanding example of what is amongst the finest watches ever produced by Audemars Piguet during the 1950s. So important is the reference, four of the six examples with leap year indicator at 12 o’clock are part of Audemars Piguet’s Heritage Collection.<br /><br />Until the appearance of the present timepiece, it was believed there were two other examples remaining in private hands – watches with serial numbers 73’014 and 73’015. The case and movement number of the present watch, 73’014, fits in the same sequence as the four known examples with serial numbers 73’011 to 73’013, and 73,016 – three of which are part of Audemars Piguet’s collection. Amazingly, it is fitted with a pristine dial with serial number 73’015, and is also accompanied with its original, unrestored dial with serial number 73’014. Therefore the only other unknown example, with case and movement serial number 73’015, may never have been produced, or in fact might exist, but without its original dial. It is therefore the last opportunity to acquire such an important, complete, and correct watch, providing perfect aesthetics with the currently fitted 73’015 dial, while also satisfying purists with the accompanying original 73’014 dial. The oversized, 36.5mm case diameter and downturned lugs is perfectly balanced, while hinting at the trend towards larger cases that would be seen in the decades to follow. Its immaculate 73’015 dial with English calendar is beautifully preserved, with all of its raised, hard enamel print fully intact and original. The beauty of this dial is enhanced by lovely two-tone regions, with a silvered outer date chapter ring and subsidiary dials that compliment the deeper tone found at the dial’s center. Audemars Piguet’s reference 5516 is a true gem not only for its modern day appeal and wearability, but also for its importance in the history of horology. It is therefore a unique opportunity to obtain such a wonderfully preserved example of Audemars Piguet’s truly iconic, landmark perpetual calendar wristwatch.
Case/Bracelet: The case is in lovely original condition and was possibly sympathetically polished one time in its past. The lug hallmarks are sharp, with one slightly flat, probably due from wear. The engraved case back number is remains crisp as are the two numeric inscriptions. The ridge of the case at the point where the two sides meet is sharp, and the watch has strong overall proportions. There is minor shallow wear throughout. There are some heavier marks to the case around the calendar and moon phase pushers, as well as the opening. Dial: The 73’015 dial is stunning and in exceptional condition. Fully intact and perfectly preserved hard, raised enamel printing throughout. This dial was manufactured by Stern. There is a very small scratch from the edge of the dial toward the center near the 13 date. Movement: The movement is running.
<a href="mailto:email@example.com">Paul Boutros</a><br> Head of Watches, Americas<br> +1 212 940 1293<br> <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>
An example of the reference 5516 is illustrated in Audemars Piguet Calendar Wristwatches 1924-1994, pg. 48-49.
<p>A specialist in the manufacture of complications since it was established in 1881, Audemars Piguet never ceases to impress with a rich history of creating bold, even audacious, timepieces underpinned by traditional watchmaking at its finest. This Le Brassus-based Swiss manufacturer is one of only two major manufacturers still owned by the founding family. Since its earliest days, AP is considered a leader in the field of minute repeaters and grande complication pocket and wristwatches. The brand is devoted to preserving the history of watchmaking in the Vallée de Joux, showcased at their superb museum in Le Brassus.</p><p> Today, the brand is best known for its Royal Oak models, a revolutionary luxury sports watch launched in 1972. Other key models include early minute repeating wristwatches, vintage chronograph wristwatches, such as the oversized reference 5020, perpetual calendar watches and the Royal Oak Offshore, first introduced in 1993.</p>