In its latest men’s watch collections, Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet revisits its iconic Royal Oak Offshore series and unveils a stunning variety of timepieces, embellished with a wide array of colours, finishes, and adornments.
The Royal Oak created by Audemars Piguet first emerged from the watchmaker’s headquarters in Le Brassus, Switzerland back in 1972. Now, almost 50 years later, the Royal Oak is still being reinvented and reimagined, and the latest collections for both women and men present connoisseurs of fine wristwatches with remarkable references to choose from.
Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 42mm
Designed by Emmanuel Gueit and debuted in 1993, the Royal Oak Offshore retained the original Royal Oak’s aesthetic codes with its octagonal bezel and hexagonal screws, while at the same time defying established conventions with a dramatic case size of 42mm, a massive visible black gasket under the bezel, and a rubber-clad crown and push-pieces. Nicknamed ‘The Beast’, it helped set the trend for large-sized watches.
In 2013, the original Royal Oak Offshore presented its first major redesign to celebrate the watch’s 20th anniversary, and then underwent another design evolution in 2018 for its 25th anniversary. This year’s iterations of the iconic timepiece are equipped with the latest integrated chronograph technology, slightly updated dial aesthetics, and a clever interchangeable strap system.
The new 42mm references, crafted in stainless steel, titanium or 18-carat pink gold, are powered by the new Calibre 4404 selfwinding integrated chronograph, which delivers a power reserve of 70 hours and is equipped with a column wheel and flyback function. Unlike regular chronographs, the flyback function allows the wearer to stop, reset and start the chronograph in one simple action. Because the column wheel works in collaboration with a vertical clutch, the hands respond accordingly without any hint of jumping when the chronograph is started or stopped, while a patented resetting mechanism ensures each counter hand instantaneously resets to zero.
The glareproofed sapphire caseback offers a glimpse of the intricate mechanism, including the 22-carat pink gold oscillating weight, the refined hand-finishing – including ‘Côtes de Genève’, satin-brushing and polished chamfers – and the so-called ‘dance’ of the hammers that’s visible when the chronograph function is activated. In addition, these sturdy cases boast a thickness of 15.2mm and are waterproof up to 100 metres.
Three of the new references sport a ‘Petite Tapisserie’ guilloché pattern on their dial, which is produced via a painstaking engine-turning process. The dials of the stainless steel and pink gold models feature the iconic blue – named ‘Night Blue, Cloud 50’ – of the Royal Oak Offshore from 1993, while the titanium version sports a light grey dial accentuated with black counters and a black inner bezel.
All three dial faces have kept the original Royal Oak Offshore’s vertical counter display, although the counters now all exist equidistant from the centre – for more visual symmetry – and the hour counter is now positioned at 12 o’clock, while the small seconds counter appears at 6 o’clock (an inversion of the original). Remaining the same are the minute counter at 9 o’clock, the date window with loupe glass to magnify the numeral below, and the gold applied AP initials and long-form signature at 3 o’clock.
The interchangeable strap system is presented here for the first time on metal bracelets, which can be replaced by a rubber strap – blue for the stainless steel and pink gold versions, black for the titanium – for a sportier look. The 2021 interchangeable strap assortment for the 42mm Royal Oak Offshore line also includes a light blue and a khaki textured rubber strap, as well as a black calfskin leather strap.
These last two 42 mm references come in two case options – stainless steel and titanium – both meticulously finished with satin-brushing, and polished chamfers and complemented with black rubber push-pieces and screw-locked crown. The stainless steel model sports a light blue dial with a ‘Méga Tapisserie’ guilloché pattern – stamped with powerful presses, as opposed to engine-turned – offset by black counters and a black inner bezel. Adding a vivid touch of colour is the orange used for the counters’ Arabic numerals and the chronograph’s central seconds hand, while the interchangeable straps come in blue textured rubber and black calfskin.
By contrast, the titanium model – with interchangeable khaki textured rubber and black calfskin straps – combines a khaki ‘Méga Tapisserie’ dial and matching inner bezel, enhanced by silver-toned counters with printed black hour-markers, Arabic numerals, and chronograph hands. In addition, both these models have the AP initials at 3 o’clock, without the long-form signature, for an extra touch of sporty savoir-faire.
Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 43mm
The launch of Audemars Piguet’s line of 43mm Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronographs represents the first major evolution of this series since the development of the 44mm collection in the early 2000s. Honed from stainless steel, titanium, or 18-carat pink gold, each timepiece in this quintet exerts its own unique personality, while even more stylistic variety is offered by the new interchangeable strap system. A quick click and release allows the wearer to change the strap and buckle manually, while the double-push system provides optimum security when the watch is being worn.
On each reference, the sturdy 43mm case, which is water resistant up to 100 metres, contains the latest in-house integrated chronograph in the Royal Oak Offshore collection, the Calibre 4401. This selfwinding movement offers 70 hours of power reserve, with a column wheel and flyback function similar to the Calibre 4404 found in the 42mm references, including vertical clutch and patented zero resetting mechanism.
Viewed front the front, the dial composition has the minute counter at 9 o’clock, the hour counter at 3, the small seconds counter at 6, the date window between 4 and 5 o’clock, and the applied gold AP initials appearing at 12 o’clock. Covering it all is the glareproofed sapphire crystal, which curves elegantly from 6 to 12 o’clock, seamlessly completing the overall design.
Of the five new 43mm models, two feature a stainless steel case with the bezel, push-pieces, and screw-locked crown all crafted in black ceramic, plus white gold hour-markers and luminescent coated hands. The first of this pair is adorned with a black ‘Méga Tapisserie’ dial, adding visual depth, which is complemented by a pair of interchangeable rubber straps (one black, one brown calfskin). The second reference sports a smoky, light brown ‘Méga Tapisserie’ dial, with interchangeable rubber straps (this time light brown and black).
Of the two titanium models, the first boasts an all-titanium case with a blue ‘Méga Tapisserie’ dial and interchangeable rubber straps in blue and black. The second titanium variant is graced with a grey ‘Méga Tapisserie’ dial complemented by blue chronograph counters, blue inner bezel, and interchangeable rubber straps in grey and blue.
Rounding out the series is the 18-carat pink gold case with black ceramic bezel and a matching black ‘Méga Tapisserie’ dial accented with rhodium-toned chronograph counters and pink gold hour-markers. Here, the push-pieces and screw-locked crown are crafted in black ceramic, the push-piece guards are in sandblasted 18-carat pink gold, and the interchangeable straps come in black rubber and black alligator.
Experience Audemars Piguet timepieces at the AP House Bangkok, Gaysorn Tower 4th floor or call 02-108-6305.
For more information, visit Audemars Piguet.
This article first appeared in the October 2021 issue of Prestige Thailand.