The ROO Beast in black ceramic… This is it. No need to tease you; you’re looking at the very first iteration of the classic, 1993-inspired version of the Royal Oak Offshore made entirely of black ceramic, from case to bracelet. And not only were we already very enthusiastic about the return of this watch two years ago – in a slightly updated version, technically at least – but seeing it now clad in this full-black, monochromatic look… Well, it is quite something indeed. Meet the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 42mm Black Ceramic ref. 26238CE, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the disruptive watch launched in 1993 by the Le Brassus-based manufacture.
A very short reminder. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore, also known as the ROO or the Beast (in its first incarnation), was born in 1993 as an answer to the steady decline in sales of the classic Royal Oak. It was a watch to answer the needs of a younger generation, more in line with the trends of the era. Big and bold, you can see it as a sporty, chronograph-equipped, beefed-up evolution of the 1972 RO. And just like its ancestor, the inaugural reference 25721ST made quite an impression at launch (even Genta publically admitted he hated the ROO). You can consult this in-depth article if you want all the details about the 1993 Royal Oak Offshore Beast.
The following 30 years saw countless evolutions of the ROO reinterpreted with all sorts of materials, dozens of colours, and all possible complications. This extensive selection will give you an idea of how far the brand went with the Offshore concept. There is one important watch to mention in today’s context, however. It’s the 2021 reference 26238ST, a watch that marked the comeback of the original 1993 look, a modernised Beast with an in-house integrated chronograph movement, yet a design that was faithful to the watch that started it all. The Beast was back, in a classic stainless steel with blue dial edition, but also in titanium with grey dial (26238TI) and in pink gold with blue and gold dial (26238OR), as we explained here.
Now we’re in 2023, and the Royal Oak Offshore The Beast is celebrating its 30th anniversary. And unsuprisingly, Audemars Piguet will be paying tribute to this important watch with various different models. And the first to emerge doesn’t disappoint. Really, it is as good on paper as one could have expected. Full-black ceramic Royal Oak watches have always been high on the list of grail watches – think about the RO Perpetual Calendar, the RO Double Balance Wheel Openworked or even the rather delightful 34mm Selfwinding RO – all extremely popular and sought-after models. And now, for the first time, the classic Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 42mm comes in this same monochromatic, full-black ceramic attire… The Ceramic Beast, a.k.a the 26238CE.
What is this new ROO Black Ceramic about? In short, it is a new material and a new monochromatic look applied to the existing re-edition of the Beast. Technically, there’s nothing new to report. Visually, however, the use of only one colour and a different material makes a dramatic difference. Let’s get on with the facts: 42mm case, 15.3mm height, 100m water-resistant, and a shape that is the closest you can get to the original 1993 watch. Almost all elements of the habillage are executed in black ceramic – case, bezel, crown, pushers, crown guards – with the notable exceptions of the white gold hexagonal screws on the bezel and the caseback, which is titanium. Even though it is made of ceramic, the case is finished just like the steel version, with brushed surfaces and polished accents. And judging by previous full-ceramic AP watches, they will be superbly made.
The other notable difference regarding this new Royal Oak Offshore Black Ceramic 26238CE is the dial. First of all, just like the 2021 steel model, it brings back the classic look of the Beast with a petite tapisserie pattern, which is done the classic way (engine-turned). New to this model is the full-black look, sub-dials and date disc included. All elements of the dial – hands, markers, tracks, fonts – and the layout feel familiar if slightly updated compared to the 1993 model. The position and size of the counters have changed due to the new movement inside. Still, it retains the overall emblematic style of the ROO.
What changes most compared to the original watch is inside the case. This new Royal Oak Offshore Black Ceramic 26238CE is equipped, just like its steel sister, with the in-house, integrated, automatic, flyback chronograph calibre 4404 – the base movement that was first introduced in Code 11.59. It has been modified here to have a 6-9-12 layout, matching the style of the original ROO. Visible through the sapphire caseback, it is a modern, powerful, nicely designed/finished engine.
Last but certainly not least, it is the first time the ROO is fitted on a ceramic bracelet. Thus, it retains the homogenous and emblematic look of the original watch but now in a lighter, more resistant material with a fully monochromatic style. The bracelet, just like the case, retains the classic finishing of the collection and is closed by a titanium folding clasp. Contrary to the steel, titanium and gold models, this ceramic edition has no interchangeability system.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 42mm Black Ceramic (reference 26238CE.OO.1300CE.01) is quite a watch, and we’re certainly looking forward to seeing it in the metal – a hands-on article will come later. The price is CHF 70,000 (before taxes) or EUR 84,000 (with EU Taxes). And remember that full-ceramic watches are usually hard to acquire. For more details, please visit www.audemarspiguet.com.