We are about a year away from a total re-shuffle of the Royal Oak for its 40th anniversary - but for 2011 Audemars Piguet has created arguably the best looking Royal Oak Offshore watch ever. Next year is also the 20th Anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore I believe as well. The redo of the "ROO" (Royal Oak Offshore) for 2011 is simple, but involves a number of refinements and design tweaks. When speaking with Audemars Piguet's lead designer Octavio Garcia, he describes the new collection as "restrained" and more focused. These are meant to be more simple looking watches that emphasize the strengths of the collection and how its personality has developed over time. Some past Royal Oak Offshore watches have been accused of being too busy by some tastes. While I personally see merit in some of the more aggressive and experimental Royal Oak Offshore watches of previous years, the new models are certainly more broad in their appeal. They seem to offer a technical, polished look that suits the Royal Oak Offshore concept quite well.
When it comes down to it, Audemars Piguet took a lot of influence from some of those past experimental designs for much of what you see here. Interestingly the amalgamated design boiled down to a very cohesive look. For instance, you'll find a lot of elements here from the limited edition Royal Oak Offshore Rubens Barrichello as well as the limited edition Royal Oak Offshore Jarno Trulli. Between those two watches you pretty much have the make up for the dials and hands in this new model.
The 2011 ROO is inherently a sport themed watch with nods to the racing world. Audemars Piguet uses a tired and true trick to making dials look more sporty by adding a dash of red. Not too much, but just enough to be noticed. Thus, you have the chronograph hands (just the tip of the chrono seconds hand) in red. Gone are the large Arabic hour numerals in favor of applied markers that feel more elegant and offer a more spacious feeling dial. There are actual numerals of course, done in that technical looking font we've seen before for the subdials and the flange ring applied tachymeter scale.
As you can tell, the green of the SuperLumiNova on the dial of the watches isn't quite as green as in the marketing images - which I think is good. It looks more white when not glowing. In fact, I provided an overall comparison shot of the new ROO with an older ROO so that you can see exactly how the dial and case trimming are different. One of the best changes are the main hands. The older ROO used hands similar (but a bit fatter) to the Royal Oak. Those were outlined in polished steel, and filled with lume in the center. The new ROO uses more sophisticated looking hands that are polished and faceted, as well as a bit more angular in their shape. It maintains the look people expect, but with what I consider to be an enhancement. Also note how the date discs are all black now. Of course, it would not be a Royal Oak without the "mega tapisserie" tiled block style dials.
The 2011 Royal Oak Offshore isn't just about dial changes, but it is also about case and material changes, as well as a new movement. The case is still 44mm wide, but now comes in either steel, 18k pink gold, or Audemars Piguet's forged carbon (yay!). The bezels are all ceramic, with brushed tops and polished sides. Ceramic not only looks cool for the bezels, but is also durable and highly scratch resistant offering people the longevity they should expect out of such a high-end watch. I don't think Audemars Piguet will ever return to steel bezels for any of its ROO watches.
Not only are the bezels ceramic, but so are the new thin rectangular chronograph pushers, as well as the crown. The pushers and the crown do have metal elements as well, but AP wanted to make sure the parts you mainly touch are in smooth and wear resistant ceramic. The new pushers are very neat looking and are certainly a design improvement over the more basic looking round pushers from previous models.
For this new standard collection of 2011 ROO watches, AP offers an exhibition caseback through the sapphire crystal. There you can see the new Audemars Piguet calibre 3126/3840 automatic movement that has 60 hours of power reserve. It is based on the older calibre 3120 - but is better looking to be in line with today's more sophisticated movement designs that AP has been releasing. The movements are all hand decorated in Le Brassus and have 22k gold rotors that have been given a dark galvanic treatment.
On the wrist the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore watches are beautiful looking and attractive. They embody the sort of forward thinking sportiness the brand was going for back in 1992, and today are ever more distinct than the more formal and smaller Royal Oak watches. The quality is there too, as well has having a high pedigree automatic chronograph movement. While AP's competitors have been able to offer their own versions of the high-end sport watch theme, there will really always be just one Royal Oak Offshore - and it has never been better in a standard collection that the one for 2011. Prices are up there. The steel model is $28,100, $31,000 in forged carbon, and $52,100 in 18k rose gold.
TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION FROM Audemars Piguet
Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
Case, pushpiece-guards, fastening studs and pin buckle in stainless steel; bezel, crown and pushpieces in black ceramics.
Case in forged carbon; bezel, crown and pushpieces in black ceramics; pushpiece-guards, fastening studs and pin buckle in titanium
Case, pushpiece-guards fastening studs and pin buckle in 18-carat pink gold; bezel, crown and pushpieces in black ceramics.
Selfwinding Calibre 3126/3840
Total diameter: 29.92 mm (131/4 lignes)
Casing diameter: 26 mm
Thickness: 7.16 mm
Up to 60-hour power reserve
Cadence of the balance: 21,600 vibrations per hour (3 Hz)
Variable-inertia balance with eight inertia-blocks and flat balance-spring
Geneva-type mobile balance-spring stud-holder
Three-position winding stem
Finishing: all parts finely decorated; mainplate circular-grained; bridges rhodiumed, bevelled, snailed and adorned with CÃ´tes de Genève. Diamond-polished jewel sinks; diamond-polished countersinks and bevelled wheel spokes; bevelled screw rims
Partially openworked 22-carat gold oscillating weight with anthracite galvanic treatment
Diameter: 44 mm
Thickness: 14.43 mm
Exhibition back with sapphire crystal pane and Royal Oak Offshore engraving
Exclusive “Méga Tapisserie” engraving
Applied facetted white or pink gold hour-markers with luminescent coating.
Black rubber, adorned with two grooves
Hours and minutes
Small seconds at 12 o’clock
Chronograph with central sweep-seconds hand, 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock and 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock.
Tachometric scale on the flange