The Royal Oak is a sports luxe thoroughbred but if you actually want to consider taking one on an adventure, you’re better off looking at the more rugged and robust Royal Oak Offshore collection, which touts a chunkier design and a plethora of divers and chronographs.
Instead of creating a brand new watch to add to the range, AP have instead given some of the existing watches a bit of love with updates to the self-winding chronograph and a new limited edition version of the Diver. However, to kick things off, let’s take a look to the new evolution of the original 1993 Royal Oak Offshore.
Royal Oak Offshore Self-winding Chronograph 42mm
While the modern Royal Oak Offshore traces its design to the early 2000s, the Royal Oak has been around for a fair bit longer than that and now Audemars Piguet are bringing back the 1993 version with a few contemporary updates. There are three version of the 42mm diameter watch in titanium, steel or pink gold.
Most notable, off the bat, is the use of a Petite Tapisserie dial as opposed to the sportier Mega Tapisserie that you usually see on Offshores these days. It gives the watch a distinctive retro edge compared with its counterparts and pays homage to the regular Royal Oak, which still uses the design frequently. On the steel version the dial is blue, on titanium it’s grey and on the gold version it swaps back to blue with the exception of the subdials which are also golden.
Where the watch sees some modernisation is the inclusion of AP’s latest self-winding chronograph movement, the calibre 4404, which has an astonishing 70-hour power reserve as well as a flyback chronograph function, hours, minutes, small seconds and a date. It also looks great through the open caseback, which is making a comeback on this model. Other updates include incorporating the design into AP’s quick change strap system and inverting the vertical subdial layout so that the small seconds are 6 and the 12-hour timer at 12.
An homage to the 1993 design was also released in 2004 but these models bring it more in line with contemporary expectations of the brand and are frankly lovely. I particularly like the steel version with its vintage icy-blue dial.
Ref: 26238ST.OO.2000ST.01 (stainless steel, “Night Blue, Cloud 50” dial with “Petite Tapisserie” pattern), 26238TI.OO.2000TI.01 (titanium case, Grey dial with “Petite Tapisserie” pattern), 26238OR.OO.2000OR.01 (18k pink gold, “Night Blue, Cloud 50” dial with “Petite Tapisserie” pattern) | Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 15.2mm height, stainless steel, titanium or 18k pink gold case, blue or grey dial with “Petite Tapisserie” pattern | Water resistance: 100m | Movement: Calibre 4404, automatic, 40 jewels, 433 parts | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 70h | Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, flyback chronograph | Strap: Stainless steel, titanium or 18k pink gold with additional interchangeable rubber strap | Price: £34,200 (26238ST.OO.2000ST.01 & 26238TI.OO.2000TI.01), £69,300 (26238OR.OO.2000OR.01)
Royal Oak Offshore Diver Limited Edition
Chronographs are all well and good but as the name suggests the Offshore has a strong diving pedigree, with new diver’s versions appearing like the updated 2021 collection. In celebration of this lineage, AP have launched a new limited edition Diver in white gold and black ceramic, with only 300 pieces being made available.
In fact, the 2021 collection is incredibly relevant because this limited edition is virtually identical, even down to the calibre 4308 at its heart. That’s no bad thing because those other watches were a great update to the range and it’s cool to see them being reimagined in new materials.
The core of this limited edition is the new materials, namely white gold and black ceramic. The case is constructed from white gold with the iconic octagonal bezel created from incredibly scratch resistant ceramic, making for an interesting take on bi colour. It’s not the flashiest design but that only enhances the rugged strength of the Offshore Divers, although if you are going for a swim I wouldn’t recommend this gold one, even if it is water resistant to 300m.
The limited edition will initially only be available in Japan throughout September before hitting the global market in October 2021. And, of course, the caseback bears a limited edition inscription pointing out its provenance.
Ref: 15720CN.OO.A002CA.01 | Case/dial: 42mm diameter, 18k white gold with black ceramic bezel, Black dial with “Méga Tapisserie” pattern | Water resistance: 300m | Movement: Calibre 4308, automatic, 32 jewels, 234 parts | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 60h | Functions: Hours, minutes, centre seconds, date, dive time measurement | Strap: Interchangeable black rubber strap with additional interchangeable beige calfskin strap | Price: £52,800, limited to 300 pieces
Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph (Boutique Edition)
If you want the quick explanation of this pair of Self-winding Chronographs, they’re essentially the sisters of the 1993 version above without all the retro and vintage nods. They have the same 42mm case, one in steel and one in titanium, and they’re powered by the same calibre 4404 movement. The differences are entirely in the aesthetics.
First, the titanium one. It has a dark grey Mega Tapisserie dial (although officially it’s khaki) with silvered chronograph subdials. The text on the subdials is a contrasting black colour, while the Arabic numerals on the main dial are white. The Arabic numerals are another difference to the 1993 versions, which just use circle indices.
Then there’s the steel option that has a light blue Mega Tapisserie dial with black subdials and a black tachymeter. It also has a couple of orange accents on the subdials and chronograph hand that add an extra burst of colour.
This pair will only be available exclusively in Audemars Piguet boutiques, so if you fancy one you’d better head down to your local store.
Ref: 26238TI.OO.A056CA.01 (titanium case, Khaki dial with “Méga Tapisserie” pattern), 26238ST.OO.A340CA.01 (stainless steel case, Blue dial with “Méga Tapisserie” pattern) | Case/dial: 42mm diameter, titanium or stainless steel case, khaki or blue dial with “Méga Tapisserie” pattern | Water resistance: 100m | Movement: Calibre 4404, automatic, 40 jewels, 433 parts | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 70h | Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, flyback chronograph | Strap: Khaki or blue textured rubber strap with additional black interchangeable calfskin strap | Price: £29,900
More details at Audemars Piguet.