November 14, 2017
by Kenny Yeo
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph 25th Anniversary and Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph are three new, pre-SIHH 2018 references that we’ll see in stores next year, when AP is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Royal Oak Offshore line.
When Audemars Piguet unveiled the first Royal Oak Offshore some 25 years ago, I don’t think they expected it to be the success that it is today, even though it largely built on the original Royal Oak recipe: go very large, very bold, and expensive. Many forget that at the time of its debut in 1972, the now-classical 39mm Royal Oak caused quite a stir with its price, its on-display screw heads in its bezel, its steel case and bracelet, and its extremely high price, unprecedented for a steel watch. Now, all this was to be taken to the next level with the Royal Oak Offshore.
It was large and brash, and purists who saw it at Basel back in 1993 screamed that the Royal Oak had been desecrated – probably the same people who cried out to about the original Royal Oak desecrating luxury watches in general. Truth be told, the Offshore was a bold move by Audemars Piguet, but now we all know how well it has paid off. Today, the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore are Audemars Piguet’s best-selling collections – basically synonymous with the brand itself, which clearly isn’t a good thing, but we’ll leave that discussion for another time.
As 2018 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore, Audemars Piguet will commemorate the occasion with three special Royal Oak Offshore offerings – with certainly a few more in the pipeline, waiting to be launched at SIHH 2018. Here’s your first look at the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph 25th Anniversary and the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph.
The first watch is a re-edition of the very first Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph from 1993. Yup, “The Beast” is back, and this re-edition Ref. 26237ST stays very much faithful to the original. It features a 42mm stainless steel case and bracelet and a blue “Petite Tapisserie” dial. Like the original, the re-edition also has blue rubber pushers for the chronograph and a screw-down crown. Unlike newer Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronographs that have sapphire display casebacks, the re-edition features a solid caseback engraved with the Royal Oak Offshore logo. Water-resistance is 100m. The main differences that we can see between this 2018 version and the original are extremely subtle, namely in the seconds track and ‘Swiss Made’ print on the periphery of the dial.
Inside the re-edition Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph beats the Caliber 3126/3840, the same movement used in other modern Royal Oak Offshore chronograph watches. Aside from the time, of course, this movement features chronograph and date complications, a 22k gold rotor, beats at 3Hz, and has a power reserve of 50 hours.
Fortunately, it isn’t all teary-eyed past-reviving that’s happening at this anniversary – kudos to AP for that. Therefore, alongside the re-edition Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph, we see the launch of the new Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph, namely Ref. 26421ST and 26421OR, that have a completely new design in two different case materials.
Based on two earlier Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph watches, specifically the Ref. 26388PO (see our hands-on with it here) and 26288OR, these new Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph watches come in stainless steel and 18k rose gold respectively, and feature a new case design that has a thinner bezel and hence a more open dial. Even so, the distinctive Royal Oak Offshore design traits are all intact. The 45mm case is still angular, the bezel is still octagonal, and there’s no missing those exposed hexagonal screws on the bezel. Completing the look are black ceramic pushers for the chronograph and a screw-down crown. Water resistance is also 100m.
On the dial, one can see the exposed movement and the tourbillon at 9 o’clock. Opposite the tourbillon at 3 o’clock is the 30-minute counter for the chronograph. Also clearly visible are the two mainspring barrels. The skeletonized bridges extend from each of the eight screws in a way that is rather unique and ties the design of the case, dial, and movement together in a way few watches manage to do so.
These watches are powered by the in-house hand-wound Caliber 2947, which is an open-worked version of the Caliber 2933 found in the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph Ref. 26388PO & 26288OR. This particular movement features 338 components, an integrated chronograph movement that has a column wheel mechanism, a beat rate of 3Hz, and a power reserve of a whopping 237 hours. Royal Oak Offshore fanatics are certainly eager to know the prices, and we will update the article when we are able to confirm. Each Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph 25th Anniversary model is limited to 50 pieces. audemarspiguet.com