Ever since she made her debut on the MTV reality show The City, socialite Olivia Palermo has been at the forefront of fashion’s street style stars.
We recently spied Palermo in Paris for the spring/summer 2016 haute couture shows in Paris, and her striking look at the Elie Saab show made us want to take a time machine back to the 1970s. Of course, Palermo makes wearing flared trousers, a slouchy turtleneck and a Sonny- and Cher-style furry vest look brand new. But for us, the most important detail of her retro-influenced ensemble is her Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Automatic—
The legendary watch stylist Gerald Genta created Royal Oak for AP in 1970, but it wasn’t until 1976 that a ladies’ version was released under the direction of his successor Jacqueline Dimier. One hallmark of ’70s style was a fascination with unisex fashions and Dimier also introduced bejeweled versions of the classic model for men, which in turn helped evolve what started life as a sports watch into an iconic timepiece that looked smart in almost any sartorial situation.
Decades later, gender-neutral styling is back. Palermo helped popularize the current “boyfriend” trend for women wearing oversized timepieces. And while this 41mm, diamond-bezelled beauty was created for specifically for women, it’s worth noting that the original Royal Oak’s 39mm case was considered enormous at the time.
The fact that the Royal Oak collection is constantly evolving explains its enduring popularity. Palermo’s timepiece is mechanically and visually uncomplicated—just a date and the hour, minutes and central seconds. It’s the subtle details such as the rose gold case and large square scale alligator strap that make this version feel of the moment.
Of course, Palermo is so very fashion forward that she’s been wearing this white-dialed Royal Oak for a couple of years now. Which means that this particular model is no longer available. But if you can stand to sparkle a bit more, a diamond-paved version is a close approximation. And if mechanisms, not diamonds, are your best friend, a sapphire case back exhibits an exquisitely decorated 22-carat gold oscillating mass and finely finished bridges.