This year’s the 30th anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore, Audemars Piguet’s sport-centric twist on the seminal 70s Genta design. So, expect to see a lot of the big, chunky, overly performance-centric collection about this year. Case in point, the latest Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph Blue Ceramic.
Cool as it is, this watch isn’t entirely new. The combination of a black ceramic case with a blue ceramic bezel and pushers was last shown off back in 2020. It even included the same blue fume tapisserie dial – just with a very different layout, which hints at the main thing that’s different about the new version.
The 2020 watch used the calibre 3126/3840 automatic movement, a completely fine-to-good chronograph, complete with a 50-hour power reserve. But that won’t do for a 30th anniversary, so now Audemars Piguet has update the watch with the newer 4401 calibre, which ups that acceptable 50 hours to a much more impressive 70 and backs it with a 4hz frequency for superb accuracy.
As I’ve mentioned, that movement changes more than the power reserve. Rather than having subdials at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock, it opts for the more symmetrical 3, 6 and 9. It’s a much more satisfying layout, especially since they’ve dropped the magnified date, which I never felt really fit. The previous Arabic numerals have also been swapped with hour markers, which combined with the other changes makes the entire dial feel more pared-back – or as much as a Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph can get. It’s much more like the halfway house between a classic Royal Oak and the sportier, more extreme Offshores and I’m here for it.
There are a couple of case changes for the better, too. It’s dropped a millimetre in size, down from 44 to 43, which is a minute downsize but makes a difference on the wrist. Part of that is also because of the new chronograph pushers, which have been more integrated into the crown protector. Indeed, the whole conglomeration of the crown looks and feels better than before, with the crown itself nestled in the middle.
On the wrist, well, it’s an Offshore. Smaller doesn’t mean small, and it’s chunky on the wrist with the gorgeous tactility of ceramic across the entire thing. Paired with the more ergonomic shape and it’s surprisingly comfortable. The bright flashes of blue nail why the Offshore’s such a successful riff on the Royal Oak design and especially in the glorious sunshine we’ve been having, offer some serious impact. That’s doubly true with the matching woven blue strap, a contrast-stitched textile-effect leather number. The case edges are a little sharp, but that just plays into the industrial vibe the collection’s built on.
On the back you can get a good view of the new 4140 calibre, which is well finished, of course, and well worth a look. You can’t see a huge amount, and said finishing again ties into the overall industrial vibe of the Royal Oak Offshore, but it’s still incredibly handsome.
Honestly, on paper this doesn’t seem like a new watch. It’s easy to get hung up on that distinctive combination of black and blue ceramic. But between the new movement, the case refinements and the stripped-back dial, it has more than enough to set it apart. If you don’t want to commit to the full-on Offshore but still want something sportier than the 70s-flavoured Royal Oak, you could do a lot, lot worse than this.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph
- Ref: 26420CE.OO.A043VE.01
- Case/dial: 43mm diameter x 14.4mm thickness, black ceramic case and blue ceramic bezel, glareproofed sapphire crystal and caseback, blue ceramic pushpieces and screw-locked crown, titanium pushpiece guards and links, smoked blue dial with “Méga Tapisserie” pattern, black counters and external zone, white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating, black inner bezel
- Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
- Movement: Audemars Piguet calibre 4401, automatic, 381 parts, 40 jewels
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 70h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, flyback chronograph
- Strap: Blue calfskin with titanium pin buckle and interchangeable strap system, additional black rubber strap included
- Price/availability: Price on request