The original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, introduced in 1972, set a new standard for luxury. Only available in steel, it shocked the market with its luxury finishing and pricing as well as the large size. This earned it the nickname, “Jumbo”, as the 39 mm case was much larger than competing watches. But that original Ref. 5402 was also extremely thin, measuring just 7 mm thick, and comfortable to wear thanks to the integrated steel bracelet. Although other models were introduced over the years, from the "Mid-Size" to the thick Offshore, demand for the original model remained strong.
In 1992, Audemars Piguet celebrated the launch of the Royal Oak with a "Jubilee" model, Ref. 14802. It had the same 39 mm case size but was thicker thanks to the addition of a display caseback. The company also produced an unlimited model, Ref. 15002 with a solid caseback and thinner dimensions. These were now available in gold but remained true to the original design of the Royal Oak. By now the case was no longer considered “Jumbo” so the nickname “Extra-Thin” began to take hold.
The Ref. 15202 was released in 2000, adding a display caseback to the existing Ref. 15002. It was immediately popular despite being priced much higher than the outwardly-similar Ref. 14790. Over the next decade, Audemars Piguet introduced many other Royal Oak models, including the 39 mm Ref. 15300 with an extremely similar appearance despite being thicker due to the three-handed Cal. 3120. Unlike all other Royal Oak models, Ref. 15202 features the same two-handed ultra-thin movement as the 1972 original, the Jaeger-LeCoultre-derived Cal. 2121. The sapphire back adds some bulk but Ref. 15202 remains extremely thin at just 8.1 mm. Although no longer jumbo compared to its siblings and named “Extra-Thin” throughout Audemars Piguet's marketing, this model continues to be known as “Jumbo” to the brand's fans.
Audemars Piguet diversified the Royal Oak lineup in 2012 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the model. Ref. 15400 features a 41 mm case while Ref. 15450 measures 37 mm. These replace the popular Ref. 15300 as “mainstream” 3-handed models. But the big news was an update to Ref. 15202, returning to the classic dial of the original Royal Oak.
Ref. 15202 originally sported the “AP” logo at 12 00 like the company's other products, but this was moved above 6 00 starting in 2012 to match the original Royal Oak. At that time, the company also switched from a white date wheel to a black one to blend in better with the blue and black dials. These models in steel are virtually identical to the original Ref. 54002 apart from the thicker double deployant clasp on the bracelet and display back.
Ref. 15202 was originally released only in steel and rose gold, but yellow gold was added in 2017. Another novelty, released at SIHH in 2018 is the Ref. 15202IP, with a titanium case, platinum bezel and bracelet inserts, and smoked blue dial.