The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore is an iconic watch but almost each year – AP chose to take it to another level. Over the past few years, the AP Royal Oak Offshore, in its many guises, seems to have captivated us – for better or worse. This year, Audemars Piguet introduced the new Royal Oak Offshore chronograph, in three 42mm models that are an evolution of the original 1993 classic. The ROO chronograph is a bold statement watch and these three new pieces have only enhanced its status – and if I’m honest, I love ‘em!
As already mentioned, the case of these new chronograph’s measures 42mm in diameter with a thickness of 15.2mm. It certainly isn’t a dainty piece of wrist wear but understandably it is a dive watch. As it is made with diving in mind, visibility is paramount, which explains the simple yet functional layout of the dial. Faithful to the original, the three new Royal Oak Offshore models incorporate a “Petite Tapisserie” pattern. The stainless-steel variant features the iconic blue dial of the Royal Oak Offshore from 1993, a colour referred to as “Night Blue, Cloud 50” according to the Manufacture’s archives. The pink gold also features the same blue dial with pink gold-toned counters, echoing the case metal. And then there is the titanium version, which adorns a light grey dial accentuated with black counters and a black inner bezel.
Although the timepieces have kept the original Royal Oak Offshores vertical counter display, the hour and small seconds counters have been inverted: the hour counter is now positioned at 12 o’clock and the small seconds counter is at 6 o’clock – although, the minute counter has remained at 9 o’clock. In a nod to the original watch, the gold applied AP initials and the transferred “Audemars Piguet” signature are located at 3 o’clock, while the date window has also been topped off with a loupe glass integrated into the dial to magnify the date numeral, like in the 1993 timepiece designed by Emmanuel Gueit.
Beneath the dial is perhaps where the evolution has taken place. Once upon a time, most of AP’s chronograph timepieces would have had a base calibre that was built in-house but had an outsourced chronograph module fitted on top. Not for this new Offshore chronograph. These three new Offshore chronograph models are powered by a new self-winding integrated chronograph calibre 4404, which is also equipped with a column wheel and flyback mechanism. All this goodness can be seen via the glare-proofed sapphire case back that reveals the inner workings of Calibre 4404 and allows the wearer to admire the dedicated 22-carat pink-gold oscillating weight and the movement’s refined hand-finishing including “Côtes de Genève,” satin-brushing and polished chamfers.
While most ardent AP lovers will have perhaps bemoaned the initial release of the CODE 11:59, me included, it is safe to say it has had a great overall impact on movement development, which many timepieces in the Royal Oak range have benefitted from, this piece included. The calibre 4404 is a small evolution of the calibre 4401, which was first seen in the CODE 11:59 flyback chronograph released a few years ago. The only difference between the 4404 and the 4401 calibre is the horizontal verses vertical layout of the sub-dial, which required an additional plate.
The new Royal Oak Offshore is available in stainless steel, as well as in two new case options: one in titanium and one in 18-carat pink gold. While this isn’t the first time Audemars Piguet have offered a piece made entirely in titanium (ref. 2571TI), it is the first time that it presents an evolution of the 1993 timepiece with “Petite Tapisserie” in 18-carat pink gold. The case and bracelet of the three timepieces have all been hand-finished with the Manufacture’s trademark alternation of satin-brushing and polished chamfers. Each of these new Offshores are complemented with rubber pushers and crown, the stainless-steel and pink-gold pieces featuring blue, while the titanium model sports black.
These new models are fitted with a new interchangeable strap system – presented for the first time on metal bracelets. The interchangeability has been discreetly integrated into the buckle and case’s studs, in-keeping with the brands aesthetical code. This allows the wearer to change the bracelets and buckles of their new timepiece themselves on a whim. The metal bracelet can be replaced with a rubber strap giving it a sportier look as the latest 42 mm versions come with a second interchangeable rubber strap – blue for the stainless steel and pink gold versions; black for the titanium piece. The three models are waterproof to a depth of 100 metres when worn on rubber strap.
This new Royal Oak Offshore that is inspired the original 1993 classic is a great nod to the past. It is arguably a large but it doesn’t actually feel that big in the metal if I’m honest. If I had to choose one, it would undoubtedly be the pink-gold offering – it’s just gorgeous. The Offshore line has quite a large catalogue, so it will be interesting to see what happens with the older models that feature an outsourced chronograph module. Regardless, the bold design of the Offshore is unmistakable – yet while this timeless design has seen many iterations, nothing quite beats the look of the 1993 original.
The new Royal Oak Offshore Flyback Chronograph, as mentioned, is available in stainless-steel, pink-gold and titanium. It comes equipped with a matching metal bracelet as well as a complementary rubber strap. Prices range from £36,300 – £74,100. For more information, visit audemarspiguet.com.