Category: Audemars Piguet Watches
In 1993, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore replica watch was born, in addition to the tradition of the Royal Oak, the 42 mm case, externally visible waterproof gasket, chronograph function with speedometer scale and other innovative design. The replica Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph adds a more advanced technology and aesthetic design to the previous design. Case material introduced rose gold, black and white ceramics and other materials.
In 1986, Audemars Piguet’s bracelet made of ceramics was first used in watches, and it was one of the first watch manufacturers to use ceramic materials. The chronograph button and the screw-in crown, which are made of black ceramic on the side of the rose gold case, stand in stark contrast to the brand’s unconventional and avant-garde design. The 42mm oversized case, 18K rose gold case with eight white gold screws, anti-glare sapphire crystal and the bottom cover together protect the precision parts of the watch. The design of the dial and bezel is the interpretation of the concept of “Offshore”.
The rose gold-tone dial engraves the “Méga Tapisserie” oversized plaid, the black volute dial on the dial and the black inner bezel echo the black crown and black chronograph button. There is a calendar display window at the 3 o’clock position of the dial. There are 12-hour and 30-minute scoreboards at 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock respectively, and a small second disc at 12 o’clock. The brand abbreviated three-dimensional inserts are made of solid gold, which makes the overall style more consistent. The black fluorescent Arabic numerals and the rose gold fluorescent Royal Oak pointer break quietly in the dark, clear and clear, and can be seen at any time.
Hand-stitched black alligator strap with 18K rose gold buckle buckle, closer to the wrist, without affecting the powerful features of the watch. The chronograph movement provides at least 55 hours of power storage. The replica Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Series has been a revolutionary concept in the field of luxury sports watches since 1993. It is a perfect interpretation of the concept of “offshore”, leading the direction of the luxury sports watch concept.
Our watch website only sells replica Audemars Piguet watches, and these watches are made 1:1 imitating genuine products, which are almost 95% similar to the normal ones. If you don’t observe carefully, you can’t see the difference from the genuine ones. of. In addition, these Audemars Piguet imitation watches are of high quality and exquisite appearance, making them a good choice for friends or family.
When Audemars Piguet opts to tweak its timeless Royal Oak, it usually goes for something subtle: a material upgrade or slight size alteration. Not so for its latest round of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillons, which are the very definition of a statement piece.
Six styles of these handsome timepieces are on offer, each sporting a different take on the very fancy theme and offered atop a crocodile leather or mosiac strap. The crown jewels of the lot — pun intended — are two models that boast bezels and dials set with hundreds of multicolored gemstones that achieve a true rainbow effect.
To be specific, these rainbow-hued Royal Oaks sport a dozen types of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, topaz, and other precious stones: 468 brilliant or 207 baguette-cut gems, to be specific, arriving at very select in October 2021 and early 2022, respectively.
And then, to properly set off these indescribably opulent watches, their case is finished with either diamonds or more rainbow gemstones.
There are some (slightly) more understated Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillons watches here, too, wherein four models sport only blue sapphires. They’re a little more toned-down, perhaps a little more tasteful but certainly no less exquisite.
It’s kind of staggering to imagine what it’d feel like to walk around with one of these bad boys strapped to your wrist. Surely, one glimpse would pop the monocle or explode the top hat of any of the bluebloods at the yacht club.
Jokes aside, these are staggeringly luxe iterations of an already outrageously high-end timepiece. Audemars backs up its opulence with true craft. These Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillons aren’t lavish merely for the sake of it: they’re demonstrative of AP at the peak of its elegance, true art pieces.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is one of the most recognizable luxury watches on the planet – and it also happens to be quite good looking. These two things taken together have helped this more than 45 year old design turn into both an icon and one of the most in-demand pieces of men’s jewelry you can find; and as such we included it among our “top 10 living legend watches to own” article. And “men’s jewelry” is a term that I feel adequately describes the appeal of this timepiece. For this review I take a look at the 41mm wide version of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph. Other sizes and styles certainly exist, but this is the most modern (and largest) iteration of the famed Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph ever.
Gerald Genta & The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
You can’t be a watch expert (let alone watch lover) without studying the work of the late watch designer Gerald Genta. He is most well-known for a series of luxury sport watches he designed for brands such as Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, IWC, and Bulgari. While Genta’s relationship with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak design ended decades ago, you can’t really understand the watch’s concept without knowing what he was intending to do with it. Audemars Piguet has been a loyal and impressive caretaker of the design, which represents the vast majority of sales at the brand.When the Royal Oak was first introduced, Audemars Piguet boldly and proudly announced in its own marketing materials that the Royal Oak was a steel sports watch priced just like a gold one. Was that just rich-boy puffery designed to further alienate the masses who could not afford such items? Not exactly.
Most Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches out in the market aren’t sold as a function of their movement or complexity. Yes, there are some exotic models with a perpetual calendar complication or a minute repeater – but this isn’t what the Royal Oak is all about. In fact, I have a very strong feeling Gerald Genta himself never even intended for there to be anything but a three-hand version of the Royal Oak, which means that something like a Royal Oak Chronograph is more a modification of his original design intent as opposed to building on it. Gerald Genta famously quipped that he himself was not a watch lover. In my opinion this statement has been taken out of context and really means that Genta was more focused on the exterior wearable part of the watch as opposed to the horological elements on the inside.
At the time when Genta was in the heyday of his design career he can clearly be seen rejecting the traditional “generic” exterior look of most watches (especially luxury ones) but introducing a series of novel ways to imagine a watch case and bracelet. It is in those latter areas where he excelled the most and his prescience on this subject was not only ahead of his time but clearly captures the emotions many luxury watch wearers have today. Both Gerald Genta and Audemars Piguet likely agree that your wristwatch being both distinctive in appearance and recognizable to others are necessary components of a wristwatch becoming more than just a nice product, but a genuine personality unto itself.
A discussion of Gerald Genta’s later design work and the contents of his eponymous brand are a subject for an entirely different discussion. With that said, it is important to understand the body of his work as well as the themes he was interested in to understand where the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak came from. Genta was a fan of the sea and all things nautical. He was also a fan of simple dials which were legible and told the time easily. If you take a look at the three-hand versions of both the Royal Oak and Nautilus, you will agree that the watch dials focus on being simple, legible, and just a little bit decorative.
Genta was never all that interested in revolutionizing watch dials through most of his career. Rather, he seemed to mostly care about the watch case and bracelet, and how they might integrate together. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was one of the first watches I can think of where the bracelet and case are not only truly integrated, but designed to go with one another. In fact, I like to see his watch designs more like bracelet designs. High-end, nice looking, masculine, and showy bracelets which also just happen to tell the time.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Meets The Chronograph
The introduction of additional complications to the Royal Oak is a more modern evolution of the product collection intended to ensure that the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak fits into as many product categories as possible for as many potential customers as possible. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph takes the most popular complication (in addition to the time) and marries it to one of the most successful watch designs of the 20th century. What it lacks in “purity” it makes up for in emotional appeal for consumers who both like the look of a chronograph with its extra sub-dials on the face and the look of extra pushers on the case. Audemars Piguet itself seems to implicitly understand this given that the movement inside the watch is nice, but hardly revolutionary.
Decorated with love and an excellent attention to detail, the Audemars Piguet caliber 2385 automatic chronograph is at the same time rather “old-school” in its performance. It operates at 3Hz (21,600 bph) with a power reserve of 40 hours. The chronograph is a module on top of an older movement design, but still manages to achieve a decent level of thinness. While the three-hand version of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is the clear winner when it comes to case thinness, the Royal Oak Chronograph 41mm is still comparatively slim to many other chronograph watches out there being just 11mm thick (the three-hand Royal is about 8mm thick).
Audemars Piguet further doesn’t show off the movement in most Royal Oak model watches, which means you can’t admire the solid gold engraved automatic rotor or the attractive level of finishing on the movement through the solid steel caseback.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Case
At 41mm wide the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph is a hefty timepiece made from a lot of high-quality stainless steel. Recall that the “Jumbo” version (as it is often called) of the Royal Oak is just 39mm wide. The case has a relatively long 53mm lug-to-lug distance and the wearing size is visually increased due to the widely spaced lug structure. Water resistance is just 50m, which is more than enough for daily wear but I think 100m is a more competitive number if Audemars Piguet wants to push the “sporty” side of the Royal Oak more.
Then again, the entirety of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore collection is where the brand prefers to push more of its “sport” messaging. The irony of course is that the Royal Oak in the 1970s has a similar personality as the Royal Oak Offshore had when it debuted about 20 years later in the 1990s.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak & The Patek Philippe Nautilus
Comparisons to the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak are extremely common and logical. Currently Patek Philippe charges a lot more money for the three-hand Nautilus than Audemars Piguet does for a similar model. In fact the Royal Oak Chronograph 41mm is currently less expensive (by close to $5,000) than the retail price of the three-hand Patek Philippe Nautilus. I wouldn’t look to this price difference as a real indicator about value differences and in my opinion, this price difference is more about marketing and brand positioning.
This is also a good instance to say that if you are trying to decide between the two, the Audemars Piguet represents the superior value (which is a rare thing to say about the typically high-end pricing strategy of Audemars Piguet).
I personally prefer the sharper angles of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak’s case and bracelet to that of the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 watch that I reviewed on aBlogtoWatch here. This is a matter of personal taste, and it is because I feel that the Royal Oak is a bit more edgy, masculine, and bold compared to the softer and more genteel lines of the Nautilus. Both watches are clear cousins and are each inspired by the world of boats. Audemars Piguet envisioned the Royal Oak to be the perfect sport watch to wear while on your sailing boat or yacht. Genta himself designed the iconic eight-sided bezel of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak after the design of some ship hull windows. From his home in Monte Carlo, it is not difficult to imagine Mr. Genta spending an awful lot of time gazing at some of the world’s most expensive and interesting ships to draw design inspiration from.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Design
Aside from slight differences to the shape of the hour markers and hands, as well as the dimensions of the case, there is little from a core design perspective that this modern Royal Oak Chronograph does differently than the original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak design. The dial has Audemars Piguet’s “mega (grande) Tapisserie” repeating block face design as well as slightly more faceted versions of Genta’s original “sausage on a stick” hand and matching baton hour marker design.
A date window is located between 4 and 5 o’clock on the dial, and the chronograph sub-dials do a good job of not interfering much with legibility. Note that Audemars Piguet has produced many versions of the Royal Oak Chronograph. Some have mono-color dials such as this version, and others have contrast-colored sub-dials which offer a different visual aesthetic which many people like.
The chronograph pushers are screw-down in traditional fashion. This is designed to assist with water and dust resistance, but does make it a bit annoying to use the chronograph. Audemars Piguet Chronograph owners I’ve polled almost universally report that they chose the chronograph version of the Royal Oak for design reasons and rarely ever use the chronograph. Again, Audemars Piguet knows its clients and focuses on what matters most to them. That means a bit of effort to modernize the movement or chronograph complication would likely be more pleasing to people who aren’t the collection’s core customers.
Earlier I remarked that the Royal Oak was men’s jewelry. I didn’t just say this because of how it is used by most of its owners, but also because of how it is made. Rather than a simple round, polished case, the Royal Oak has a number of small pieces which each need a lot of time being polished and finished by hand. The way the case is made is more akin to the world of jewelry than traditional watchmaking.
In fact, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak itself was developed by Audemars Piguet by request of its agents in Italy who more or less wanted them to make a masculine time-telling men’s jewelry bracelet. Once again Italian watch tastes were ahead of their time, and the concept turned out to be a serious winner for the brand. That is, once the world had finally learned about the Royal Oak in the context of other competitive products.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Wearing Experience
No doubt part of the appeal of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is in its comfortable and eye-pleasing wearing experience. The watch sits on the wrist securely thanks to its wide flat back and easy to articulate bracelet. The bracelet itself is a thing of beauty which has been produced in a series of ways over the years. My understanding is that more recently Audemars Piguet has combined hand and machine-finishing for the bracelet parts, whereas in the past it was mostly done by hand.
The newer Royal Oaks are a bit more “industrial” in their finishing than some of the older models, but the aesthetic is still very attractive. The core idea of the decoration is to combine the masculine look of brushed surfaces with as much light-catching polish in the form of mirror-polished bevels and angles. Gerald Genta knew implicitly that the allure of any jewelry item is in how its surfaces dance and play with the light – something the Royal Oak has always done nicely.
It’s All In the Details
Little details help explain the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak’s wearing comfort. For example, when you size the bracelet you’ll see that the holes for the screw bars are larger than they need to be. This helps give the bracelet “play,” which makes it more comfortable on more wrist sizes and shapes. The butterfly-style deployant clasp is entirely simple, but produced from high quality pieces of machined metal. If anything, the amount of nicely machined and finished metal pieces help give the Royal Oak a satisfying, substantial feel when held.
One of the most interesting areas of discussion from a design perspective when it comes to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is in how the octagonal bezel’s hexagonal screws have their “heads” all oriented in the right direction. Other brands have come under fire from some watch collectors who lament the fact that screw heads don’t always line up in an aesthetically pleasing, symmetrical manner. The way in which Audemars Piguet achieves this visual trick is with screw heads that aren’t really screws, but countersunk bolts with a hidden nut underneath.
In this sense all Audemars Piguet needs to do is insert the bolts so that the screw-style head is oriented in the correct direction, while the nut fastener on the bottom side is what keeps the bezel in place. Turn the case of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak over and you’ll see actual screws used to secure the caseback, whose screw heads follow a more “organic” orientation.
As a piece of men’s luxury jewelry that just happens to tell the time, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is among the best options out there. In a true “luxury maison” sense you are buying a piece of Audemars Piguet to wear on your wrist – and all the personality and history that comes with it. That is as opposed to a less recognizable watch design whose personality is dependent on the wearer. This goes back to the larger discussion I like to have from time to time of whether “you wear a watch or if a watch is wearing you.” The latter is more true for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in my opinion – and there is nothing wrong with that assuming you admire and appreciate the personality which Audemars Piguet has created for its extremely important Royal Oak product.
I’m not in a particular rush to own an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak because as a watch collector I know the collection isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That tends to happen with design icons like the Royal Oak, in that many people want one but they wait for the “right time” to acquire one. Audemars Piguet certainly has no shortage of options and with new Royal Oaks coming out each year, consumers have no reason to rush unless that “perfect” model is released.
As part of a recently launched collection of green-themed versions of some of the brand’s most beloved watches, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra Thin has announced the first-ever platinum Royal Oak “Jumbo” with a green sunburst dial. That’s right: Those who were simply green with envy towards anyone who managed to snag 2019’s “salmon adjacent” 152020BC can now commemorate the feeling with a truly striking smoked green dial. As the modern expression of the original Royal Oak format, the 15202 is a hugely popular reference, and this will undoubtedly be a hot-ticket item for anyone with their eyes on the current scene surrounding Audemars Piguet.
With 39mm of platinum case matched by a full platinum bracelet and a display caseback, this is a core Royal Oak offering with a twist. While AP has never shied away from colorful dials, especially when it comes to the Royal Oak, the green feels a bit more middle of the road than some of the more bold offerings we’ve seen in the past, and I think that makes a lot of sense for the 15202. In many ways, this format – without chronograph, tourbillon, or otherwise – is a shorthand for Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra Thin success, and it forms the roots of how many people come to know about the brand.
Judging by the images (though we hope to go hands-on soon enough), this 15202PT sports a bright but not overly shiny sunburst finish that is enhanced by a smoked gradient execution that fades to a much darker tone at the dial’s edge. Combined with bright and luminous white-gold markers and hands (along with no seconds hand), the 5202PT.OO.1240PT.01 is gorgeous, and the dial fade does a good job of matching with the visual weight of the date display, which appears to fade along with the shimmering green coloring.
The movement inside should surprise almost no one – AP’s lovely calibre 2121. Fitted with a solid gold winding mass and tracking hours, minutes, and the date, this movement has long been linked with the Royal Oak, and it’s always a treat to get a chance to peer through that display caseback to catch a glimpse of Audemars Piguet’s super thin (only 3.05mm!) automatic movement.
Still dubbed the “Extra-Thin” at a very svelte 8.1mm thick, I doubt that the relative slim-ness will mean you don’t notice this chunk of platinum on your wrist, even without the razzle-dazzle of that emerald green dial. Currently, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra Thin is listing the price as “available upon request,” but regardless of that number, we all know they will be hard to get (update: price below). As new watch season looms on the horizon, AP has the jump start, and the grass is certainly looking green in Le Brassus today.
As of this year, the dive-specific Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver is celebrating its sweet sixteenth with a newly updated reference. It spans three new colorways and represents the biggest evolution for the ROO Diver – ROOD? – since the model graduated from being the Offshore Scuba (which originally launched in 2005) to the Royal Oak Offshore Diver. The new 2021 models are rocking a more modern movement, tool-less push-button strap changing, and several small but noteworthy design tweaks.
To tackle the elephant in the room, no, the size has not changed. The new reference 15720ST retains the 42mm sizing of the standard Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver , along with its uncommon two-crown layout, display caseback, 300 meters of water resistance, and a time/date feature set.
Available from launch in “Trailblazing Khaki,” “Navy Blue,” and “Pristine Grey,” each version has a steel case and comes with a second strap so owners can try the new quick-change system right out of the box. The system is fully integrated into the back of the two short intermediate lugs used to match the strap to the case. Simply press the button and release the strap (see the above photo).
Audemars Piguet plans to offer a range of straps and, alongside the pair that comes with the watch, the brand already has a trio of calfskin leather straps that conform to the new swappable design.
Inside, and forming one of the more major elements of this update, we find Audemars Piguet’s modern caliber 4308, a beautifully finished automatic movement with central seconds, a date display, a rate of 4 Hz, and a power reserve of 60 hours. Visible through the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver display caseback, the 4308 also featured a black-finished 22k pink gold winding rotor.
Other updates include changes to the dial, including new markers and an “AP” signature (in gold) rather than the full brand name common to previous iterations of the ROO Diver.
As an exercise in evolving an already successful and qualified design, the new 15720ST looks like a subtle and thoughtful take on the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver form. The original black-dial model that was announced in 2010 has long been a dream watch for me, and these new versions look every bit as appealing, especially given the interesting colorways (Pristine Grey for me, please) and the interchangeable straps.
Any of the three can be yours as early as May assuming you’ve got $25,400 and a good friend at the boutique. But please – pretty please – just promise me that if you get one, you’ll also take it for a swim every once in a while. After all, you wouldn’t want to be rude with your ROOD, right?
Audemars Piguet has a rich history of producing complicated Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar timepieces, dating back to the 19th century. In fact, the region in which Audemars Piguet was founded – Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux – is widely regarded as the foremost area where much of the development of perpetual calendars has occurred.
Even before Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar founding in 1875, descendants of the original founders, including Isaac Abraham Piguet (he began his watchmaking apprenticeship in 1753), were already involved in the field of watchmaking in the region.
It is said that 1800 was when the first perpetual calendar was invented, although that date, like many in watchmaking history, is not backed up by conclusive evidence.
Fast forward to the modern day and the Audemars Piguet manufacture is still considered one of the experts in creating perpetual calendar mechanisms.
Audemars Piguet displayed this know-how once again last month, when it launched its new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar collection, consisting of four new models in total: steel with a white or blue dial, and rose gold with a white or blue dial.
The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar , like the Royal Oaks that were launched in 2012, now come in larger, 41-mm-diameter cases. This new case size warranted a new movement (Caliber 5134), as well as offering more room on the dial with which to increase legibility and add a new function.
According to the manufacture, “The enlarged size has resulted in a ‘Grande Tapisserie’ dial design that greatly increases the overall aesthetics, balance and legibility of the perpetual calendar indications.”
Interestingly, in addition to the prerequisite day, date, month and leap-year functions – and the astronomical moon phase display – the designers added a week counter. A dedicated, centrally mounted hand points to the week (from 1 to 52) on a scale that is printed on the flange.
Audemars Piguet in-house Caliber 5134 is based on its predecessor, Caliber 2120. The automatic movement beats at frequency of 2.75Hz (19,800 vph), with 374 total parts, including 38 jewels, and a 40-hour power reserve. Movement thickness was kept to 4.31 mm, allowing the designers to maintain the thin case dimensions, which typically means a more comfortable fit on the wrist.
Technically speaking, the rose-gold, skeletonized oscillating weight, which can be custom-decorated upon a consumer’s request, is bidirectional, meaning it can wind the movement in both directions of motion. The balance has variable inertia blocks, a flat balance spring, and mobile stud-holder. The movement is highly finished and visible through the sapphire crystal caseback.
To say that Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 Chronograph Selfwinding debuted to mixed reviews is to say nothing at all. While many enthusiasts were impressed by the technical firepower on display – the collection featured a host of new movements, including AP’s first in-house self-winding chronograph movement – as well as the elaborate case construction and obviously high level of craftsmanship throughout, the dials, especially in the simpler models, were very divisive. However, the Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 Chronograph Selfwinding collection isn’t going anywhere. Audemars Piguet has committed itself to the collection for the long haul, and both as a token of that commitment and as an indication that the collection will continue to evolve, AP has just released the latest versions of the CODE 11.59 Selfwinding and Selfwinding Chronograph models. These feature five new sunburst lacquer dials, as well as a quite striking new version of the case, in white gold, with a pink gold case middle.
The manufacture of two-tone cases using two gold alloys is a relative rarity at Audemars Piguet in terms of the historical production (although, of course, we have seen a more frequent use of two-tone construction in the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore, including the reference 5402SA and the reference 15400). According to AP’s archives, of the 550 complicated watches the firm produced between 1882 and 1969 (a number whose relative minuteness bears considering; the company’s total number of employees did not exceed 30 until the year 1950, and did not exceed 100 until the 1970s), there are only eight which combined two types of gold. There were, of course, two-tone watches which combined gold and steel, including the ref. 1533 which was the basis for this year’s [Re]Master chronograph, but using two different kinds of gold was much more unusual. In AP’s entire production prior to 1970, there is only a single watch which combines white and pink gold.
I think one of the issues with the original Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 Chronograph Selfwinding time-only watches was that the dials suffered somewhat in comparison with the cases. Although the case architecture took some getting used to for long-time AP fans, and especially for AP enthusiasts who have come to the brand more recently and know it largely through the Royal Oak, the Offshore, and the various iterations of those models (and I think some AP fans will never get used to it), there was, especially if you had a chance to see the cases in person, no gainsaying the quality of construction and the extremely meticulously applied hand finishing on the cases. The dials, in contrast to the jewel-like shimmer of the cases, the robust architecture of the movements, and the rather mesmerizing visual effect created by the double-curved crystals, seemed rather plain. And although AP was at great pains to explain the complexity of the dial construction and the technical challenges that had to be overcome, there were still many – not a unanimously united front, not that AP fans are ever unanimously united on anything, but many – who felt that the original dial designs in the time-only models left something to be desired. (I ought to point out, by the way, that the typeface for the numerals isn’t a newcomer to AP either; it can be seen in the reference 5528 minute repeater, which was completed in 1951).
The new models are not the first nor the only Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 Chronograph Selfwinding models to have dials with color gradients or more complicated dials. The minute repeater at launch had a blue gradient dial, as did the self-winding flying tourbillon; there is, of course, the openworked tourbillon model as well, and the perpetual calendar had a lovely blue aventurine dial. I think AP probably recognized that having a dial treatment which offered a greater sense of visual depth would probably create quite a different impression than the flat dials for the less complex launch models, and so the company released a watch which was a bit the shape of things to come – a limited edition for the Bolshoi Ballet, with a blue gradient grand feu enamel dial. That watch came at a considerable premium over the $26,800 price for the standard models, at $41,300, but the benefits of the more elaborate dial were immediately evident and very likely prompted the company to decide to produce visually similar, but considerably less costly, versions for the regular collection as well.
The CODE 11.59 case has a most unusual construction – the case middle, which is octagonal in shape (a visual link connecting the collection to, of course, the Genta heritage and the octagonal bezel of the Royal Oak), is a separate part, and the lugs attach only to the upper part of the case; there is a minute gap where the lugs lie against the caseback and overall, the watch seems to hang suspended from the lugs. The effect is extremely subtle thanks to the small size of the gap, but it’s definitely noticeable if you look closely. I have had several opportunities to see these cases in person, and the degree to which the finish is finely executed is hard to overstate. Whether or not the design is your particular brand of vodka, the razor-sharp transitions between brushed and polished surfaces are immediately striking as are the very high quality of the various finishes overall.
These are manually applied and are similar in many respects to the hand-finishing techniques found on haute horlogerie calibers. The cases are rather thick, but that thickness is, I think, intentional, in that it provides a bigger canvas for the display of the different polishing methods. After all, if AP wishes to make an ultra-thin watch, it has that capability – its ultra-thin watches are an essential and interesting part of its heritage – but in this instance, something more overtly architectural was clearly the goal. The Royal Oak is rightly famed for its revolutionary treatment of stainless steel, but at least in terms of complexity and quality, the CODE 11.59 case can easily stand comparison with its stablemate from the 1970s.
While it is tempting and somewhat natural to think of unusual case design at AP as beginning and more or less ending with the Royal Oak, the company has been producing cases which very much fall outside the realm of the conventional for many, many years – indeed, for almost as long as they have been making wristwatches of any kind at all. The birth of the wristwatch is, in fact, directly linked to the invention of unusual case shapes, or what we today think of as unusual case shapes.
I have always thought that the most challenging part of a watch to design, particularly if the watch is round, are the lugs. The transition from case to lug affects everything – how it is handled affects not only the appearance of the watch, but also how it feels once it is on the wrist. The fact that wristwatches must be attached to the furthest end of the human upper extremity means that the connection must be a secure one, and for that reason, various geometrical cases became a part of the early history of the first true wristwatches, and the first wristwatches from Audemars Piguet, almost immediately. Beyond the strict geometry of rectilinear cases, there is also, once the technical problem of securing round or oval watches has been solved (and it was largely solved by the invention of the spring bar), the fact that rectilinear geometry in watch cases offers an opportunity to depart dramatically from the tyranny of the round case. AP has, for most of its history, done just that – not exclusively, perhaps, but consistently.
Just released by Audemars Piguet are five new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in what was the collection’s original, and I believe best, case size of 42mm. Earlier this year, AP announced a refreshed version of the ROO Chronograph in a 43mm case with new in-house caliber 4401 movement and interchangeable straps. Now, we see these five new Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs in the smaller 42mm case get the same upgrade and refinements. Yes, that makes for a total of 10 new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronographs this year. While I’ll focus on the brand new 42mm models here, I have added information on the larger 43mm collection, as well. And if it gets confusing, an easy way to differentiate is recognizing the horizontal (3,6,9) chronograph subdials on the 43mm and vertical (6,9,12) subdials on the 42mm.
All five new 42mm ROO Chronos have the new self-winding integrated flyback chronograph Calibre 4404 movement which is essentially identical to the Calibre 4401 seen in the 43mm models. The only difference between the two is that the 4401 has a horizontal (3,6,9) chronograph sub-dial layout while the 4404 has a vertical (6,9,12) sub-dial layout which requires an extra plate in the movement. An integrated column-wheel flyback chronograph with vertical clutch, the 4404 operates at 28,800 vph and has a 70-hour power reserve.
The two models that come on a strap both have the Méga Tapisserie dial, with the blue-dial version coming in a titanium case and the khaki-green version coming in a steel case. The remaining three have the more intricate Petite Tapisserie dial, and I have to say that the steel model with “night blue” dial is a fitting successor to the original Royal Oak Offshore Chronongraph AKA “the Beast.” The titanium model has a gray dial and the solid pink-gold model has the same “night blue” dial as the steel version.
All five of these Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronographs measure 42mm-wide and 15.2mm-thick with 100m of water resistance.
If you missed the news of the 43mm version, it was redesigned this year with a fresh case and slight refinements like larger polished chamfers on the case edges and more curves on the bezel, as well as chronograph pushers. Of the five 43mm versions released, three are done in steel cases with ceramic bezel (with dial colors in black, smoked light brown, and gray), one is done in an 18k pink-gold case with ceramic bezel and black dial, and one is in titanium with a blue dial and titanium bezel. All have Méga Tapisserie dials and come on an interchangeable rubber strap.
That’s a total of 10 new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph models released in 2021, and this is just a warmup for AP. 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of the classic Royal Oak, so the revamp of the sportier Offshore line is likely the tip of the iceberg. The new Calibre 4401 and 4404 movements, refined cases, and interchangeable straps make for a seriously improved Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph collection.