Twenty-eight years after its debut, the Royal Oak Offshore of 1993 is back with three new references in 42mm steel, titanium or pink gold cases. Respecting the essence of the original timepiece, there are, however, several interesting evolutions, including the incorporation of the latest in-house automatic flyback chronograph movement and a novel interchangeable bracelet system. To enjoy a view of the movement, the sapphire crystal caseback makes a comeback, and the dial reveals some design tweaks.
Launched during Baselworld 1993, the Royal Oak Offshore (ref. 25721ST) was as daring and defiant a proposal as the Royal Oak had been in 1972. The ROO was an oversized, high-testosterone version of the Royal Oak, a colossal 42mm watch (huge dimensions in 1993) bristling with textures and bold combinations of materials that earned it the nickname “The Beast”. As an offshoot of Gérald Genta’s iconic Royal Oak, the ROO paid homage to the legend with hallmark design features like the raised octagonal bezel and exposed screws, the guilloché tapisserie dial, the integrated bracelet and the overall industrial design mood. However, the ROO was beefier and bolder than the RO and rigged with materials that were not associated with high-end watchmaking, like the black rubber gasket between the case and bezel and the rubber-clad chronograph pushers and crown.
On its 25th anniversary, the ROO was feted with a faithful re-edition of the iconic 1993 reference respecting the original case size, the solid caseback, the original “petite tapisserie” dial pattern, the rubber gasket and pushers and even the bracelet. Two things differed from the original: the substitution of the blade clasp for a more solid butterfly folding clasp and the incorporation of AP’s modular chronograph calibre 3126/3840, replacing the original JLC-based calibre 2226/2840 with a Dubois Depraz module.
SIMILARITIES & Evolutions
Like the original, the new ROO models have a 42mm case with a height of 15.2mm. In addition to stainless steel, the ROO is also offered in titanium and 18k pink gold. The steel and pink gold models come with blue rubber pushers, gasket and screw-locked crown, while the titanium is fitted with black rubber. True to form, the case and integrated bracelet display hand-finished satin-brushed surfaces and brightly polished chamfers.
Faithful to the original vertical tri-compax display of the 1993 Royal Oak Offshore, beady-eyed fans will notice that the position of the hour and small seconds counters has been inverted. The hour counter is now at 12 and the small seconds at 6 o’clock; the 30-minute counter retains its original position at 9 o’clock. Another subtle design tweak is that all three counters are now equidistant from the centre of the dial giving the watch more symmetry and balance. The iconic “petite tapisserie” decoration on the dial couldn’t be missing and comes in blue on the steel version, just like the original.
The pink gold model also has a blue chequered background, but the counters are a pink gold colour to match the case. The titanium version has grey “petite tapisserie” and contrasting black counters. In all three models, the applied oblong-shaped indices are crafted in gold and filled with luminescent material, as are the Royal Oak hour and minute hands. Like the original, the gold applied AP initials, and the transferred “Audemars Piguet” signature are positioned at 3 o’clock next to the round date window with a magnifying glass.
The real upgrade here is the incorporation of AP’s in-house calibre 4404, a derivation of the automatic integrated column-wheel flyback chronograph movement originally developed for the Code 11.59. Instead of the classic 3, 6, 9 counter arrangement of the Code 11.59, the movement has been adapted to respect the hallmark 6, 9, 12 vertical layout of the ROO. Although the brand has not provided photographs of the movement, the glare-proofed sapphire caseback offers a view of the 22k pink gold openworked oscillating weight and the refined hand-finishing, including Côtes de Genève, satin brushing and polished chamfers. Beating at 4Hz, the movement can store up to 70 hours of power reserve.
Interchangeable Bracelets & Straps
The new models are fitted with the brand’s novel interchangeable strap system, now for the first time applicable to metal bracelets. Thanks to the quick-click-and-release system, the integrated metal bracelet can be exchanged for a sporty rubber strap without any tools. The three 42mm models come with an additional rubber strap.
The Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph models in steel and titanium retail for CHF 34,500, in pink gold for CHF 70,100.
For more information, please consult audemarspiguet.com.