The SIHH 2016 watch trade show sees a lot of new Audemars Piguet watches including the brand new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph for 2016 – that arrives in four very summery, fun color schemes. If you recall, it was back in 2010 that Audemars Piguet first introduced the Royal Oak Offshore Diver. This time-only model has proven to be quite successful, and I later experienced some “in-the-wild” wearing with the Royal Oak Offshore Diver here. Since its initial release, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver has has come in a range of versions, with cases in Forged Carbon and Ceramic (both in black and white).
This version sees a return to a steel case, but that is because Audemars Piguet welcomes a new member to the Royal Oak Offshire Diver family with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph. I easily anticipate that future years will see even more versions of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph in more traditional color tones, as well as more case materials.
Powering the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph is the in-house made Audemars Piguet calibre 3124/3841 automatic chronograph movement that we last saw fitted into an entirely different style of watch in the Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Chronograph. From classic and dressy to modern and sporty, this two-register chronograph separates itself visually from other triple-register chronograph movements people tend to associate with most Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph models.
The calibre 3124/3841 is made up of 364 parts and operates at 3Hz (21,600 bph). Once again, I am going to chime in requesting that Audemars Piguet develop a 4Hz chronograph movement for their sport watches. Power reserve is 50 hours, and the movement uses a lovely gold automatic rotor – which, in this instance, you unfortunately cannot see, as there is a solid caseback.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver was not only intended to be the brand’s first serious diving watch, but was also meant to offer a cleaner time-only dial. Here, we get what is arguably among the more simple chronograph dials across the entire Royal Oak Offshore collection.
At 42mm wide in steel, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph watches are water resistant to 300 meters and have an inner rotating bezel that is operated via the black ceramic crown positioned at 10 o’clock. Additional black ceramic pushers are used for the chronograph, and the main crown is also in black ceramic (with a metal interior segment).
Writing about the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph, I am reminded of the high-quality rubber strap that not only has a nice non-slip texture, but helps this watch fit amazingly comfortably. It is likely that the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph will be slightly thicker than the three-hand Diver, but I think that wearing comfort will be similar.
As you can see, the brand has chosen to debut the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Collection with a “splash” in four notably bold color schemes. Perhaps, the most subtle model is the reference 26703ST.OO.A027CA.01 that has a blue dial and strap with yellow accents on the dial and internal rotating bezel. Next is the reference 26703ST.OO.A070CA.01 in orange, followed by the 26703ST.OO.A038CA.01 in lime green. My favorite model is the reference 26703ST.OO.A051CA.01 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph in yellow – because I have never been shy about my love of black and yellow “bumblebee” Audemars Piguet timepieces.
In terms of availability, Audemars Piguet continues with the increasing trend of making a lot of appealing watch models available exclusively in Audemars Piguet brand boutiques stores. While this might seem like an arbitrary way to get customers in to brand boutiques, it is part of an important and larger overall strategy in the watch industry to focus on more vertical integration as brands both produce timepieces and sell them directly to customers. In the long run, this will lead to benefits for consumers, as it is the only viable option to allow for price stability and gradual elimination of the gray market (which actually causes retail prices to go up).
Again, as the debut collection, these four colorful models of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph are meant to make a bold statement and are probably some of the “funnest-looking” yet serious luxury sport watches I’ve seen in a while. I am pretty sure that future models will nevertheless offer more “conservative” tones for those people who don’t think they can pull off lime green on a daily basis – no matter if it is on an Audemars Piguet or not. Price for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph is $27,900. audemarspiguet.com