For a design that’s supposedly as brawny and iterative as the Royal Oak Offshore, it sure has demonstrated a great deal of aesthetic nuance over the decades. This year alone, we’ve seen AP’s largish sports watch par excellence remixed as a diver, flying tourbillon and even an entire new ‘generation’ of 43mm references. Point being: there’s clearly still creative potential to be coaxed from the brand’s beastliest collection – a summation borne out further by the arrival of three more Royal Oak Offshores, this time ‘round inspired by a historic predecessor.
Unlike the aforementioned next-gen Offshores – typified by a traditional tricompax layout and Méga Tapisserie dials – this month’s new models share a demonstrable connection with Emmanuel Gueit’s historic 1993 design.
Old aficionados of the collection will doubtless recognise the similarities: the distinctive profile and proportion of the 42mm case; the classic ‘12-6-9’ chronograph totalisers; and the absence of any embellishment on external surfaces except for a few choice rubber pushers. (In the inaugural Royal Oak Offshore – a.k.a. “The Beast”, the latter were as much a practical consideration as they were decorative – helping to seal the watch and improve water-resistance.)
Collectors of the OG Offshore still have a lot to be curious about – especially where wearability is concerned. In line with the divers and 43mm references released earlier in the year, these historically minded Offshores incorporate a number of features that are very much a product of contemporary watchmaking.
The first of these – arguably most relevant where consumers are concerned – is the introduction of the interchangeable strap system. As with the ROO divers, the introduction of this system allows wearers to accessorise on the fly. In practical terms, the strap-changing system is reliable and user-friendly; utilising a ‘click and release’ locking mechanism that takes a matter of seconds to come to grips with.
Available defaultly on a matching integrated bracelet, each Offshore also includes a rubber strap – blue in the case of the steel and rose gold models, and black for the titanium.
The other modern innovation is mechanical. While AP certainly hasn't reinvented the (column) wheel when it comes to this new Offshore movement, it’s a very stylish and meticulous take on the traditional flyback chronograph.
Modelled partially on the same movement equipped in the [Re]master01, the calibre 4404 is topped with AP’s characteristic, fan-shaped rotor (in these models, the metal in question is some very swish 22-carat pink gold) and offers a good balance between power supply and accuracy. Of course, the vertical clutch chronograph’s sprawling anatomy makes it an ideal platform for decoration; and AP has made sure to showcase as much of the calibre 4404 through the caseback as possible – chamfers and all.
Consistent with the broad desire in this instance to harken back to Offshores of yesteryear, two of these three new models have been kitted with richly hued dials in an archival colourway that AP refers to as “Night Blue, Cloud 50”.
In stainless steel, the colour combination is an obvious nod to the original 1993 release; whereas the visual panache of pink gold on blue really gets across the Offshore’s credentials as a balls-to-the-wall luxury diver.
Continuing in the tradition of watches like the Royal Oak Supersonnerie, the titanium version of this new Offshore has been given the stealthiest dial option: mixing together dark grey Petite Tapisserie with chronograph registers in a shade somewhere between black and anthracite.
Along with the five new 43mm models released back in August, it’s clear that AP are genuinely committed to expanding the scope and flavour of the Offshore collection. Just as well: there’s more to life than Royal Oak Jumbos.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph / 42mm
Reference numbers: 28238ST.OO.2000ST.01 (‘Night Blue’ dial in stainless steel); 26238TI.OO.2000TI.01 (Grey dial in titanium); 26238OR.OO.2000OR.01 (‘Night Blue’ dial in pink gold)
Case material: Stainless steel/titanium/18k pink gold cases
Movement: Calibre 4404
Functions: Flyback chronograph, hours, minutes, small seconds and date
Frequency: 4 Hz/ 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 70 hours
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with AP folding clasp. Additional interchangeable rubber strap in various colours
Price: HKD 318,000 (Steel, Titanium), HKD 650,000 (Pink gold)
For further information, visit Audemars Piguet online.