September 21, 2010
by Ariel Adams
AP is on a boat! (by the way, the video below is the censored version – I realize that – erring on the side of caution here as our friends in Switzerland in the watch brand marketing departments sometimes have weaker constitutions than we do. The uncensored version of the video is here). Often times a watch doesn’t assert itself well until it is in its “natural environment.” That is not the case with the new AP ROO Diver (Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver) because it looks good pretty much everywhere. But if you want to see what the design is really all about, and meant for – then you will take it on a boat. The Royal Oak collection as a whole began with influence from boats. You have no idea how many watches began with boat windows or portholes. Hublot is basically an entire brand that started around this concept. The porthole is a cornerstone design element of so many luxury sport watches!
Audemars Piguet invited me to join them in visiting l’Hydroptere – the fastest sailboat in the world, which they happen to be sponsoring. The trimaran style boat is quite large and can hit speeds of up to about 60 knots. That is really fast in the ocean! This is with optimal wind and a full crew. The boat is so fast, it doesn’t even compete against other ships – only against the clock. It would easily beat anything else out there that didn’t rely on an engine. We took a yacht (“I’m on a boat!”) to see l’Hydroptere off the coast of Saint Tropez in the South of France. The ship plans to engage on a record setting trip next year in the Pacific ocean. The whole idea of the boat is to be one of a series of sailing vessels that will be faster and faster. L’Hydroptere is a collaboration between Swiss and French engineers and sailing experts.
Audemars Piguet’s last sailing sponsorship was with the Alinghi, and since then has been eager to get back into the world of performance wind-powered boating. You could tell that AP as a whole loves the genre. In their offices and in the manufacture are posters and models of the Alinghi ship – those will likely be replaced with mini l’Hydroptere’s soon enough.
Is the Royal Oak Offshore the official watch for the l’Hydroptere relationship? Hardly, it is just their latest marine themed watch. I have confirmation that Audemars Piguet will not only release a l’Hydroptere limited edition watch, but it will be a very special one. As a bit of trivia aside, according to the team members who sail the ship, their dream features for a watch while sailing are that it should: be very light, have the time, a chronograph, a countdown timer, a tide chart, and a barometer with a history/log function. All easy to see at a glance. So someone get working on that. Maybe Audemars Piguet is as well!
For more details (and other images) on the beautiful AP Royal Oak Offshore Diver, you can click there to see a previous post with images taken by me, and text by Meehna Goldsmith. There you will learn all the technical details you may need. I believe the price of the watch is about $15,000. I am quite enamored with this piece. 42mm wide steel case, cool finishing, easy to read AP Offshore style dial, 300 meters water resistant, beautifully functioning inner rotating diver’s bezel, and an incredible high-quality rubber strap. It is a killer dive watch, and you WILL want one (if you can afford one). You can see me here wearing the watch around on the boat (“I’m on a boat!”), and if you agree, the watch works (and looks) quite well in this environment. I felt like I was experiencing what the designer of the watch was experiencing when the idea for the timepiece design was conceived. So if you find yourself on a boat… then this Audemars Piguet timepiece will fit the bill with ease.