Audemars Piguet Reissues the 1993 Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph… And We Go Hands-On With This 25th Anniversary Ref. 26237ST

Throughout its long history, Audemars Piguet has notched up many bold moves. Of course, we all remember the 1972 Royal Oak, a Genta-designed watch that simply revolutionized the concept of the luxury watch. Another of these bold moves should also not be forgotten. Back in 1993, Audemars Piguet presented an evolution of the Royal Oak, a highly-masculine version named the Offshore – a watch that would once again create a trend which would later spread throughout the rest of the industry. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of this modern icon, the Le Brassus-based brand presents, as Pre-SIHH 2018 novelties, two new ROO watches, including this retro-inspired Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Re-edition 25th Anniversary Ref. 26237ST. Slightly vintage, highly iconic.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Reedition 25th Anniversary 26237ST

Background – the birth of the “Offshore”

Before explaining the Royal Oak Offshore, we have to quickly go back to 1972, when Audemars Piguet first introduced the Royal Oak 5402ST. A watch designed by Gerald Genta, AP was audacious enough to launch a watch that was, back in the days, more than disruptive. Figure that: in the early 1970s, the idea of a luxury watch, even for Audemars, was a small, thin and gold-encased time-only watch – to the exception of a very low number of complex pieces. So when the Royal Oak came on the market, with its angular steel case, its integrated bracelet, its sporty design and its insane price, it caused quite a rumble. Yet, as bold as this move was, and even if it took some time for the market to embrace this “luxury sports watch” concept, the 5402ST became an icon that many others would follow.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ref. 25721ST first version 1993

The 1993 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ref. 25721ST

A second move, two decades later, followed, still in the Royal Oak collection. In the early 1990s, the watchmaking industry was slowly recovering from the quartz crisis, and the watches produced were still quite shy and discreet. The comeback of the mechanical watch was just gathering momentum and the vast majority of the high-end watches on the market – with the exception of a few sports watches – were still classically designed and relatively small in terms of diameter. Yet, in 1993, Audemars Piguet struck again, by launching the Royal Oak Offshore. What was this watch about? A 42mm automatic chronograph, as a testosterone-fed version of the Royal Oak, built with the words “massive” and “deconstructed” in mind. At Baselworld 1993, some will probably recall that many collectors and insiders were disappointed by this novelty. Even Genta (who didn’t design this version but a certain 22 years old Emmanuel Gueit did) was shocked. Some, however, were amazed by this new concept.

The 1993 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ref. 25721ST

What was so special about this 1993 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ref. 25721ST? First of all, it was big – some nicknamed it “the beast” – with a 42mm diameter (far away from the standards, back in the 1990s), it was thick (15mm overall), it was angular, it was heavy and in fact, even if all the iconic design elements of the Royal Oak were featured (the octagonal bezel, the 8 hexagonal screws, the raised bezel, the guilloche dial, the integrated bracelet, the overall shape of the case), the Offshore felt completely new and disruptive. It took the Royal Oak design and “deconstructed” it, by making highly visible the gasket between the case and the bezel for instance. It was also bringing a new concept, where new materials (in this case, rubber) were mixed with metals. And if it took some time for collectors to accept this watch, it properly created a segment… and again, many followed.

The 1993 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ref. 25721ST

The original design, even after two facelifts (2006 and 2014 – see the latter here), has been kept alive and hundreds of different editions of this watch will later be designed (divers, chronographs, tourbillons or even a grande complication, with a variety of materials such as ceramic, carbon or gold). In 2018, this watch will be celebrating its 25th anniversary – and that means that we can expect quite some Offshore watches from AP at the SIHH 2018… But for now, we must focus on one watch, the re-edition of “the beast”, which makes a comeback in the collection with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Re-edition 25th Anniversary ref. 26237ST.

The Royal Oak Offshore Re-edition ref. 26237ST

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Reedition 25th Anniversary 26237ST

Let’s go straight to the point: to the exception of a few minor details, this re-edition of the first Royal Oak Offshore is entirely identical to the original model – and it even sets aside some of the technical and visual evolutions introduced by the latest models. Audemars Piguet has chosen to remain true to the original, all the way. Thus, no surprises, except that this watch looks now much more classic now than it must have been the case, back in 1993.

First is the case. On this Royal Oak Offshore Re-edition ref. 26237ST, we have the same 42mm cushion-shaped stainless steel case, with the same design and the same finishing. Vertically brushed on flat surfaces, and enlightened by polished bevels, it retains the protection piece around the crown and the pushers. On top, separated from the case by a massive black gasket, is the same octagonal bezel, vertically brushed on top, polished on the sides, with 8 hexagonal screws.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Reedition 25th Anniversary 26237ST

The rest of the case is again entirely identical to the 1993 model. While the most recent versions of the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph (launched in 2014) feature ceramic crown and pushers in a contrasting colour, this re-edition ref. 26237ST reverts to rubber here too – in blue, just like the original model. As for the bracelet, no changes either, as the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 25th Anniversary features the signature integrated steel bracelet, brushed on top, with polished bevels. One thing has been updated though, compared to the original edition: the clasp. No more blade-clasp made from a thin layer of steel but a modern and solid “butterfly” folding clasp. Evolution is sometimes a good thing.

To end with the case, while the current Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph features a see-through sapphire back, this 25th-anniversary version sticks to the plain steel back with the original “Royal Oak Offshore” logo engraved. Under this caseback sits a well-known in-house movement, as used in most automatic Offshore Chronographs. This calibre 3126/3840 is a modular movement based on AP’s calibre 3120, on top of which sits a chronograph module (dial-side). This 3Hz self-winding movement, with a 22k gold rotor, boasts 50 hours of power reserve and, besides the chronograph, it also indicates the date. The classical 6-9-12 layout, also found on the 1993 model, is here kept, even if the movement is different (the old one featured the calibre 2226/2840, a JLC-based movement with Dubois-Depraz module).

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Reedition 25th Anniversary 26237ST

As for the dial, we have here an almost exact copy of the 1993 model – I say almost, as some details are slightly different… The dial of the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 25th Anniversary 26237ST brings back the “Petite Tapisserie” pattern, while the other modern versions of the ROO are all using a much larger pattern, the “Mega Tapisserie”. In this re-edition, the blue dial is, just like a Royal Oak Extra-Thin, done by hand via a guilloche process (yet now done in-house and not outsourced as it was the case in 1993) allowing for a refined and extremely detailed dial. The hands, as well as the white gold applied indexes, are also totally equal to the old edition, with their familiar rounded shape.

The applied logo, the inscriptions, the tracks, the sub-dials with metallic rings… again, all are identical. Same goes for the deep blue colour, which is found on the internal flange with tachymeter scale (with the same graduations as the original). One minor difference: the second track on the periphery shows fewer graduations between the seconds, explained by the different frequency of the movement (now 3Hz, in opposition to 4Hz on the 1993 model). For the rest, this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 25th Anniversary is an extremely accurate ode to the past.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Reedition 25th Anniversary 26237ST

Finally, on the wrist, this watch feels, as you can imagine, quite familiar. Again, what was named “the beast” 25 years ago is now a watch that feels almost standard in terms of size. The ROO is certainly not a small and light watch, yet this 42mm case is now almost restrained, compared to some of the luxury sports watches we can see on the market.

What to say about this Royal Oak Offshore re-edition? Well, in short, Audemars Piguet nailed it… Simple as that. The brand didn’t fall into the trap of modernization or evolution. Yes, the movement and the clasp are different, but who can complain about that. In terms of style, it gives echo to what is nowadays an icon, what used to be a disruptive watch, which ended in being a trendsetter. And to be honest, it looks super cool. Price will be CHF 25,000 and it is a non-limited edition. More details on www.audemarspiguet.com.


Technical Specifications – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 25th Anniversary 26237ST

  • Case: 42mm diameter – stainless steel, brushed and polished – sapphire crystal on the dial side, steel caseback – blue rubber-clad push-pieces and screw-locked crown – 100m water resistant
  • Movement: Audemars-Piguet calibre 3126/3840, in-house – self-winding – 3Hz frequency – 50h power reserve – 59 jewels – hours, minutes, small second, chronograph, date
  • Bracelet: stainless multi-link integrated bracelet, steel folding clasp
  • Reference: 26237ST.OO.1000ST.01
  • Availability: Non-Limited edition
  • Price: CHF 25,000

7 responses

  1. From a 25.000 us $ watch I would expect decent chrono buttons and not just blue rubber!!!! If the excuse is, that the watch is identical to the original, the price should be cost as much as the original back in the 90’s

  2. Is it me or is the chrono seconds hand (or angle of the photographs) NOT aligned at 12 and sitting slightly to the left? That would annoy me if I owned this watch.

    But I guess that’s to be expected in non true chronographs…

  3. Do they also have some other new Offshores?
    Or is it the only “new” one.

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