Watch Drop: The 2021 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver

The legendary Royal Oak Offshore Diver gets an upgrade, but what does that mean for this beloved collection? Let’s dive deep into it and see what lies within one of AP’s newest releases.
By Aaron Voyles

A new in-house movement, new dials and a new DIY interchangeable strap and buckle system — just a quick overview of the latest Offshore Diver. But first, let’s see where the collection has come from before we explore where it is today.

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The brand-new 2021 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Divers

The Offshore’s Evolution

Like the Royal Oak Offshore collection to which it belongs, the Royal Oak Offshore Diver as we know it today exists as a specialised version of what is already a high-performance sports watch. Initially released in 1993, the Royal Oak Offshore’s destiny was to operate as a more robust and sportier version of the Royal Oak. A bit general in its execution, the Royal Oak Offshore was, and still is, a great sports watch, but it isn’t a watch you would dive with. As such, the Offshore Diver, or Scuba as it was known originally, filled a longstanding void in the Offshore’s offering.

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The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph "QE II Cup 2016" ref. 26406FR, limited to 150 pieces

To fill that niche, Audemars Piguet had to give the Offshore Diver an array of upgrades that its parent model, the Offshore, didn’t have. Amongst the rather obvious removal of its tachymeter and chronograph and water-resistance upgrade from 100m to 300m, it was also given new lume plots, and an internal uni-directional rotating bezel operated through a new crown at 10 o’clock. With these new changes, the Offshore Diver (Scuba) was born and laid the foundations for one of AP’s most popular collections.

Scuba to Diver – The Timeline

First released in 2005, the Royal Oak Offshore Diver as we know it today began its life as the Royal Oak Offshore ‘Scuba’. A 35-piece limited-edition release at the request of the legendary German retailer Wempe for their 100th anniversary, the model proved to be so popular that it has hung around and become a celebrated version of a model that is already an icon in its own right.

Following the success of the initial limited-edition release for Wempe, AP followed up with their own version of the Scuba, a 300-piece limited-edition Boutique-only release in three colourways (blue, red and orange), each made up of 100 pieces. From the Scuba, the Royal Oak Offshore Diver arose in 2010 as the ref. 15703ST to finally evolve into the current generation of the legendary model as we know it today in 2015 with the ref. 15710ST.  

2021 Divers – The Releases

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All new: the 2021 Royal Oak Offshore Divers featuring an interchangeable strap and buckle system

Moving past its history and where its functional design came from, we can finally dive into what AP has just given us. Released alongside a bunch of other exciting new watches, the Offshore Diver collection has been catapulted forward with some cool new upgrades that keep the collection fresh, innovative and distinctly modern. Weighing in at 42mm in diameter and just a hair over 14mm thick, these Divers are not insubstantial by any means. In fact, on the contrary, they pack quite the punch.

Cal. 4038 – The Movement

The collection introduces a new movement to AP’s repertoire and, as such, is powered by the all-new in-house automatic calibre 4308 movement. Equipped with a patented setting function that promises to improve stability and precision when adjusting the watch, the cal. 4308 will undoubtedly be buttery smooth to operate. As always, its internal uni-directional bezel is operated via a ratcheting system accessed through the crown at 10 o’clock. Beating away at 4 Hertz (28,800 vibrations per hour), the cal. 4308 comes with a stunning blackened 22-carat pink gold winding rotor that provides 60 hours of power reserve.

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The collection is powered by the all-new in-house automatic calibre 4308 movement

While it is a perfectly adequate power reserve, I would love to see AP push the boat for the Diver collection (pun intended) and give it a truly impressive power reserve. AP indeed acknowledge that their customers don’t just wear one watch and will want to cycle through their collection. A nice long power reserve would allow them to do that with the most ease. Granted, 60 hours is still plenty; it’s not setting any records either.

What is setting records is how visually stunning AP have made the cal. 4308. As we have come to expect from the Holy Trinity member, the cal. 4308 is perhaps one of the best-looking dive watch movements on the market. Featuring all of the classic finishing techniques you could want, the cal. 4038 is decorated with “Côtes de Genève”, “traits tirés”, and “grainage circulaire”, which all combine to provide a level of aesthetic beauty we don’t necessarily expect from a dive watch, but AP are happy to provide.

New Quick-change Straps and Buckles

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AP's new interchangeable strap mechanism allows for easy switching between different straps

Joining some other brands in offering an interchangeable strap system, AP has upgraded the Offshore Diver’s lug studs, so they include buttons on their reverse. The strap will come loose by just pressing these buttons and allow a new strap to be placed on with ease and without the need for inelegant tools. AP’s new quick-change buckle system also enables the wearer to swap out the buckles with a game-changing click and release mechanism. A welcome addition to the collection, this will probably make its way throughout AP’s entire Offshore offering over the next few years as AP releases new collections. While each watch is offered with two straps, leather straps in beige, brown and black will also be available for purchase from AP boutiques.

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AP’s new quick-change buckle system also enables the wearer to swap out the buckles with a game-changing click and slide-off mechanism

Pristine Grey (ref. 15720ST.OO.A009CA.01)

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The 2021 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver in Pristine Grey (ref. 15720ST.OO.A009CA.01)

Kicking off the collection’s colours, we have a stunning monochromatic grey variant that is undoubtedly the most toned-down of the trio. The 42mm diameter x 14.1mm stainless steel case features a glare-proofed sapphire crystal and caseback (like the other two models), black ceramic screw-locked crowns and the Offshore Diver’s signature “Méga Tapisserie” pattern dial in what AP calls Pristine Grey with white gold applied hour-markers and a set of iconic luminescent Royal Oak hands. With the internal bezel’s navy colour serving as a functional design element to promote legibility, the pop of colour also provides a nice aesthetic touch to the grey dial. The Pristine Grey sits on a dial-matching grey strap but, like the other variants, comes with a second strap that matches its internal bezel, so navy in this instance.

Navy Blue (ref. 15720ST.OO.A027CA.01)

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The 2021 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver in Navy Blue (ref. 15720ST.OO.A027CA.01)

Following on, we have what will probably prove to be the most popular variant, the Navy Blue. Featuring all of the same specs as the Pristine Grey, it features the same black ceramic screw-locked crowns and white gold dial furniture. With its black internal rotating bezel, the Navy Blue comes with a second black strap alongside its “Méga Tapisserie” dial-matching navy strap. 

Trailblazing Khaki (ref. 15720ST.OO.A052CA.01)

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The 2021 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver in Trailblazing Khaki (ref. 15720ST.OO.A052CA.01)

Finally, we have what is perhaps the most unique variant of the trio, the Trailblazing Khaki. A stunning shade of khaki green, this variant speaks to the growing demand for green timepieces while also featuring a warm splash of gold. Unlike its two sibling references, the Khaki omits the white gold dial furniture, black ceramic screw-locked crowns and white-coloured bezel markings for rose gold dial furniture, rose gold screw-locked crowns and rose gold-coloured bezel markings. Offered on a khaki green strap, the Trailblazing Khaki variant also comes supplied with a second black strap, just like the Navy Blue.

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The Khaki variant differs from its siblings with its subtle rose-gold accents

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Conclusion

Available for around CHF 21,650 from boutiques and retailers from May onwards, these three timepieces look set to become an incredibly popular collection from the famed Le Brassus brand. With the lacking power reserve upgrade being the only thing I can critique, I think AP has hit the nail on the head with this release. The interchangeable strap and buckle system is excellent, the dial options are stunning and will likely expand, and the overall fit and finish is exactly as AP and their customers demand.

Specifications

Watch name: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver
Reference number: Blue 15720ST.OO.A027CA.01 / Khaki 15720ST.OO.A052CA.01 / Grey 15720ST.OO.A009CA.01

Case size: 42 mm
Thickness: 14.2 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Glareproofed sapphire crystal
Water-resistance: 300 m

Movement: Calibre 4308
Functions: Dive time measurement, hours, minutes, centre seconds and date
Winding: Selfwinding
Frequency: 4 hz 28800 vph
Power reserve: 60 h
Strap: Blue, khaki or grey rubber strap with stainless steel pin buckle and interchangeable strap system. Additional black rubber strap.

Availability: AP Boutiques
Price: CHF 23,400 (HKD $198,615)

For more information, visit Audemars Piguet online.

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