Eleven years after the collection’s introduction marks another evolution rather than a revolution to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 42mm watch collection that has just received some user-friendly updates. While the Royal Oak Jumbo is among those few watches actually worthy of the otherwise hilariously overused “iconic” designation, the Royal Oak Offshore has become a more relaxed and fun alternative to the original. Although yet to be clinically proven, the ROO is 200% more likely to repel uptight try-hards than the 1972 original.
Originally introduced in 1993 at 42mm-wide and later grown to ridiculous proportions, the Royal Oak Offshore Diver looks great in that original diameter — 42mm is promising news for those limp-wristed ROO-fans such as myself — until we learn about its lug-to-lug measurement of around 56mm, which is not what we are used to seeing from most watches with a claimed 42mm width.
If that (and the hefty price tag) hasn’t discouraged you just yet, the rest is all better news – kinda. The new-for-2021 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver 42mm features a quick-strap changing system that allows for the removal of the straps without using any tools. Just press on the lug studs and the strap will come loose, allowing you to install another one. Keen-eyed ROO fans will notice that the new straps no longer have a drilled hole to house the screw and bar which were to be used for removing the old straps, which raises the question of whether the new strap changing system is backward-compatible or not. We have seen luxury brands painstakingly engineer a “convenient” strap changing system only to simultaneously engineer out the possibility of adding other straps you have acquired (at notable expense) over the years for the previous model of the same watch.
Furthermore, the previous system only required a minimum amount of dexterity with a screwdriver – perhaps you really are an absolute poser if you have an “OFFSHORE” watch but can’t even use a flathead screwdriver.
The Audemars Piguet Caliber 4308 powers the new Royal Oak Offshore Diver 42mm. Interestingly, there also was an Audemars Piguet Reference 4308 – a proudly ’80s-looking watch with the borderline obligatory octagonal element to it. Although the 4308 caliber boasts all the pretty words that can only be whispered in the faint rooms of mono-brand boutiques – like “Côtes de Genève” and “grainage circulaire” – the end result is a movement that is more capable than it is spectacular. A plate so massive Saxon watchmakers would be proud covers most of the movement, with tight striping and an impressive self-winding rotor stealing the show. Operating frequency is 4 Hertz and power reserve is 60 hours – which is great for an extra-thin dress watch, but not so great for a chunky sports watch.
The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver 42mm will be available in three color variations. All clad in stainless steel, dial and strap options will vary between khaki, gray and blue. New are the short and fat hour markers, laid over a “Méga Tapisserie” dial that is as essential to the ROO as is its octagonal bezel. The resulting dial balance looks a bit off, at least on AP’s official images, needlessly amplifying the sensation of a tiny dial inside a massive case. The two crowns you can expect to be beautifully crafted from ceramic, another material Audemars Piguet dresses up like few others in the business.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver 42mm for 2021 is expected to cost around CHF 21,500, excluding taxes, with availability from May 2021. You can learn more at the brand’s website.