Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph for Watches & Wonders
In 2011 Audemars Piguet introduced the first Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph. It was introduced in a carbon case, a daring choice from Audemars Piguet to introduce a tourbillon chronograph in the big Offshore, and even go for a carbon case instead of precious metal. For the upcoming Watches & Wonders fair, in Hong Kong, Audemars Piguet redesigned the watch to reveal the peripheral rotor mechanism on the dial.
In 1993 Audemars Piguet introduced the Royal Oak Offshore, the Royal Oak’s more muscular sibling. Best known is the Offshore Chronograph (6 new versions have been introduced earlier this year) and the Offshore Diver. Maybe not the first thing to expect when you see this very robust and sporty watch, but it has also hosted a variety of complications, from an Annual Calendar to a Grand Complication. The first Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph was released in 2010. It came in a forged carbon case and featured a manually-wound movement inside. In 2011 the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph saw the light of day and it featured the new in-house developed and manufactured calibre 2897, with its peripheral rotor.
The movement was developed by the AP-owned research department Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi (APRP). Calibre 2897 comprises 335 individual components (34 jewels), offers 65 hours of power reserve and is finished to the highest Haute Horlogerie standards. Flat surfaces have been straight brushed, edges of the bridges and levers have been bevelled and polished, and we even see two large bridges that feature a recessed centre with a sandblasted finish (for insiders: do you see the resemblance with bridges of the Grönefeld One Hertz) The chronograph’s functions are actuated via the 8 pillar column-wheel.
The regulating organ, a tourbillon in this case, can be seen on the dial side, at the 6 o’clock position. It’s a one-minute tourbillon (makes one full rotation in one minute) and the balance wheel vibrates at 21,600 vph. It’s The chronograph counts up to 30 minutes and at the 9 o’clock position is the small (continuous) second hand.
Surrounding the dial and visible behind the sapphire “minuterie” is a peripheral rotor and its gear tooth. Not wanting to obscure the view on the beautifully finished movement, Audemars Piguet had chosen for a rather unusual solution: an automatic winding system with a peripheral rotor. The large platinum rotor occupies 180 degrees, and makes full 360 degree rotations. At the 1 o’clock is a cock that hold the peripheral rotor’s coupling gear in place and both are visible through a large aperture in the dial.
Now we already said that the new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph that comes in a limited to 50 pieces edition for the upcoming Watches & Wonders fair in Hong Kong, is a redesigned version and the visible peripheral rotor is one of the new design cues.
The dial pattern, a so-called “mega tapisserie”, remains the same, however due to the aperture that reveals the peripheral rotor’s coupling gear and its cock, the brand’s name has been moved to the left side of the dial and the word “automatic” has disappeared from the dial. Both the 30-minute chronograph register and the small second sub dial are now smaller in diameter and black instead of white.
The blackened titanium tourbillon bridge still hovers over the aperture at 6 o’clock, however there are no cut off hour markers for 5 and 7 o’clock any more.
The 44mm x 14mm case is made of forged carbon and on the right-hand side is a large titanium “pusher guard” with ceramic crown and pushers. The bezel is also executed in black ceramic, to match its technical looks. No matter how you look at it, this is not a watch that flies under the radar, and the choice for a rubber strap only accentuates it robust, technical looks even more.
The Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph is a limited edition of only 50 pieces. Official pricing has not yet been announced, however the previous version of he ROO Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph was $285,600 USD.
An exquisitely manufactured piece of mechanical machinery which I would be fascinated to own and whose existence is its own justification, but which I would never want to wear on my wrist.