As we told you in a recent article, next year will be the 25th anniversary of a modern icon, a watch that simply created the trend for bold sports-luxury watches: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore. In 1993, the brand impressed (or shocked) the industry with this watch, and to celebrate this, AP has some commemorative pieces to mark the occasion. The first one looks at the past, being a re-edition of the first ROO. The second one, which goes under our loupe today, looks towards the future. Aggressive, impressive, complex, architectural… Here is the bold (to say the least) Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph 25th Anniversary.
On one side of the range, Audemars Piguet looks at the past. Indeed, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore (as a reminder, launched at Baselworld 1993), the brand has revealed a vintage-inspired version of this modern icon, a 1:1 re-edition of the very first ROO, with chronograph and blue guilloche dial. This watch, which we already reviewed here, on MONOCHROME, is (I dare to say it) quite stunning in the metal. Yet, let’s agree on the fact that it is not the most creative piece AP has done (a common point of most vintage-inspired watches). However, the 25th anniversary of the Offshore is also the perfect occasion for the brand to demonstrate its savoir-faire in terms of mechanical innovation and design audaciousness.
One watch looking at the past, one watch looking at the future. The latter really is as bold as the ROO was 25 years ago. Don’t expect some finesse or some delicate style here, because this new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph is an impressive and complex watch. One one side, it reuses all the signature elements of the collection, however on the other side, it transforms them into something almost futuristic and highly architectural.
The main design features of the ROO are still present: the barrel-shaped case with integrated lugs, the octagonal bezel, the 8 hexagonal screws, the way the bezel is attached to the case and separated by a massive black rubber gasket, the mix of materials, the contrasts between the colours and the finishing. There is no confusion possible, this new watch is clearly a member of the family. The iconic design has been used as a base, yet Audemars Piguet has decided to make this watch even bolder than before.
So, with this new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph, the external part is familiar. The 45mm case (available in steel or 18k pink gold) re-issues the style found on several previous watches, with its massive case, brushed and polished, combined with a large titanium protection piece on the right side, on which elongated chronograph pushers are integrated. Also, the watch is combined with a rubber strap that is integrated to the case in the signature way, with two metallic links. The crown, as usual, contrasting from the rest of the case, is no more rubber coated but crafted in black ceramic.
What drastically changes though with this watch is the architecture inside the case. Indeed, AP has gone in a light, angular and transparent direction. The movement and the dial (at least the inner flange that serves as a dial) are floating inside the case. The most notable surprise comes from the bezel and screws. While these screws are inextricably part of the design of the watch, they were previously used to seal the case. Here, even if they retain the exact same position as before, their purpose is different. They are here in order to hold the movement in place inside the watch, creating an interesting game of transparency. Another factor of difference is that the screws are now positioned under the sapphire crystal, again something quite disruptive compared to all the previous ROO watches.
Another change comes from the architecture of the movement itself. Inside these Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph 25th Anniversary Editions is recognisable – or at least the base movement is close to an existing calibre. Partially derived from the “Calibre 2912” (see an example here), this movement is an impressive engine. Two main-barrels for 7 days of power reserve (positioned on the right side of the dial), a tourbillon regulator on the left side (at 9) and a nice chronograph function visible on the movement side, with all the required gears and levers visible, alongside the column-wheel. In accord with the new design of this watch, Audemars Piguet also brings an entirely new style to the movement.
While the technical base is close (same chronograph mechanism, same functions, same display), all the bridges and plates have been redesigned in a modern, architectural way that goes along with the suspended design. In the same vein, the finishing and decoration are far from traditional – which doesn’t mean that they are not superbly executed. All the parts are decorated by hand with great care. The view from the back is also extremely modern, yet with superb execution.
Overall, this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph Ref. 26421 is an impressive piece, both in terms of mechanics and design. It is an architectural concept that will require serious budget (around CHF 285,000 in steel and CHF 325,000 in pink gold) but also to be assumed by the wearer. It is clearly a concept piece that won’t fly under the radar… But that’s the main objective of the ROO collection, isn’t it? Both editions will be limited to 50 pieces. More details on www.audemarspiguet.com and during the SIHH 2018.
Technical Specifications – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph Ref. 26421
- Case: 45mm diameter – stainless steel or 18k pink gold – sapphire crystal on both sides – 100m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre 2947, in-house – hand-wound – 3Hz frequency – 173 hours power reserve – hours, minutes, chronograph, tourbillon
- Strap: Black rubber strap with stainless steel or 18k pink gold pin buckle
- References: 26421ST.OO.A002CA.01 (Steel) – 26421OR.OO.A002CA.01 (pink gold)
- Limited Edition: 50 pieces in steel, 50 pieces in pink gold