February 2, 2023
Among the slew of new watches that Audemars Piguet released today is a duo of Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph models that are made from black ceramic. Given that 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of the ultra-bold and modern Royal Oak Offshore collection, it was virtually a guarantee that we would see at least a few new Offshore models this year, and two new watches have already joined the lineup. Due to the fact that the Offshore itself is essentially just a variation of the original Royal Oak design, it can sometimes be easy to forget exactly how diverse the AP Offshore collection is compared to the standard Royal Oak range. Despite the fact that the two new additions are both AP Royal Oak Offshore watches with black ceramic cases and flyback chronograph movements, virtually everything else about the two new watches is different, and they ultimately represent two very different offerings.
The first of the two new black ceramic Offshore models is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 42mm (ref. 26238CE.OO.1300CE.01), which follows the original profile for the Offshore series with a black ceramic case that measures 42mm in diameter by 15.3mm-thick. The case, bezel, crown, and chronograph pushers are all made from brushed and polished black ceramic for a largely monochromatic appearance, with the only contrasting elements being the eight exposed white gold screws that run through the case and bezel. Sapphire crystals are fitted to both the dial and the titanium caseback, while the crown screws down to the case to help create 100 meters of water resistance. While AP has created black ceramic versions of the Offshore before, the new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 42mm represents the first time that one of the models from the Offshore series has been fitted with a matching ceramic bracelet. The bracelet offers the exact same design as those that can be found on the rest of the Offshore lineup (just as you would expect), except it is now crafted from black ceramic and fitted with a titanium folding clasp.
Keeping with the largely all-black appearance of the case is a matte black “Petite Tapisserie” dial with a trio of registers, applied luminous hour markers, and the Offshore’s signature circular date window at 3 o’clock. In addition to the dial printing being done in white, the chronograph hands are also finished white for added contrast, while the brand’s logo appears as a polished applied element next to the date window. Internally, you get the same movement that can be found in the other Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 42mm watches, which is the Audemars Piguet Caliber 4404. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 70 hours, the Cal. 4404 is a column wheel-controlled integrated chronograph movement that offers flyback functionality and winds itself automatically with a solid 22k pink gold oscillating weight. While the core aesthetic and functionality of this new watch are very familiar, the real news here is that you can now get a Royal Oak Offshore with a full ceramic bracelet, which was previously only available within the classic Royal Oak lineup.
The other new black ceramic chronograph joining the Offshore range is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 43mm (ref. 26420CE.OO.A127CR.01), which features accenting components crafted from yellow gold for a two-tone overall aesthetic. While the new ceramic bracelet model follows the form factor of the original Offshore model, this new black ceramic and yellow gold model embraces the more modern Offshore layout with a slightly larger and more imposing case that measures 43mm in diameter with chunkier guards for the crown and chronograph pushers. Additionally, rather than having small round pushers like the classic Offshore model, the more modern 43mm version features large angular oblong pushers, which ultimately creates significantly more visual mass on the 3 o’clock side of the case. Black ceramic is used for the middle case, bezel, winding crown, and chronograph pushers, while the caseback, crown guards, and strap inserts are crafted from yellow gold. Additionally, included with the watch are two strap options (one in black alligator leather and the other in black rubber), with a quick-change system to easily allow users to swap between the two without the use of any tools.
Just like the case of the watch, the dial of the new black ceramic and yellow gold Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 43mm embraces a similar colorway with a black “Méga Tapisserie” dial with applied yellow gold hour markers that are finished with a black lacquer central stripe. Yellow gold is also used for the hands, minute track, and outlines for the trio of chronograph registers, while a date window appears in its usual place at the 4:30 location. A black tachymeter scale sits along the periphery of the dial under the crystal, and the yellow gold hour and minute hand feature black lacquer center strips to match the hour markers. Internally, the new black ceramic and yellow gold Royal Oak Offshore is powered by the same Caliber 4401 movement that can be found inside the other current-production Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 43mm watches. A column wheel operated, integrated automatic chronograph movement with flyback functionality, the Cal. 4401 runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) and offers users a power reserve of approximately 70 hours. This means that performance will be the same between AP’s two new black ceramic Offshore models, despite the fact that they use different movements.
As the more modern and extroverted version of the classic Royal Oak, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore has always experimented with different case materials, and the inherently contemporary nature of ceramic is one that seems to be particularly well-suited to the Offshore lineup. The black ceramic models from the classic Royal Oak line are incredibly popular, so it only makes sense that Audemars Piguet would eventually want to expand this fan-favorite style to the Offshore range. The official retail price of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 42mm (ref. 26238CE.OO.1300CE.01) with a matching ceramic bracelet is $84,400 USD, while the black ceramic and gold 43mm model is priced at $60,300 USD, which makes both of them premium options within the lineup (although they are still less expensive than the solid gold versions). In addition to the fact that both use ceramic cases (which already carries a price premium), one of the models features solid yellow gold components, while the other has a full ceramic integrated bracelet and represents the very first time that Audemars Piguet has done this for the Royal Oak Offshore collection. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.