2. The prototypes were made out of white gold.
One of the most contentious parts of the original Royal Oak was that it was crafted out of stainless steel, yet it still cost as much as, if not more, than contemporary watches made from noble metals like gold or platinum. And while it’s true that gold is well, gold, it’s a lot easier to work with than steel, which owes to its inherent softness and malleability.
In the run up to the Royal Oak’s debut at the 1972 Basel trade show, Audemars Piguet was still feeling its way around steel, and as such, they didn’t have time to develop the necessary tools and techniques to finish the Royal Oak’s complex case and bracelet to the exacting standards people had come to expect. So, what’d they do? They fell back on a metal that they had a lot of experience with. You guessed it. Gold.