Insider: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26480TI. Is this the Next Generation of the 42 mm Offshores?

With all the attention focused on the new CODE 11.59 collection, many of the other Audemars Piguet new watch releases flew under the radar and such is the case of the new Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26480TI.OO.A027CA.01 released at the SIHH 2019. This new watch sporting a 42 mm case in titanium is a perfect hybrid between the previous generation of 42 mm Royal Oak Offshores and the 44 mm ones. Sporting a totally new designed set of crown guards, pushers and crown, the new Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26480 shows a more robust and modern look. In addition to the redesigned case elements, the dial, flange and hands also received a face lift. Since not much information was shared by AP regarding this new watch, should we assume that this is what the next generation of Royal Oak Offshores in 42 mm would look like moving forward? Maybe.

The Dial

As far as the dial, the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26480TI still features ‘Méga Tapisserie’ pattern but with a completely new layout with chrono registers at 9, 6 and 3 o’clock like that on the Royal Oak Chronographs. At the end of the day, this new Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26480TI is powered by the calibre 2385, the same calibre powering the Royal Oak Chronograph. This calibre is based off of the legendary Frederic Piguet calibre 1185 and is a movement composed of 304 parts and 37 jewels that provides a power reserve of 40 hours. Please note that this is the first time that a modern Royal Oak Offshore is not powered by the calibre 3126/3840 powering all other modern Royal Oak Offshores in the 42 and 44 mm collections.

Visually, the watch looks a little bit like a Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chrono due to its prominent flange. In this case, the flange serves as a minute track with its Arabic numerals in increments of five. Next to the flange one can find a snailed dark grey ring —with 1/5th of a second track— that wraps around the blue dial.

The grey chronograph registers with white imprints feature a circular brushed surround and blue hands with new design that slightly resembles the chrono hands on the Royal Oak Offshore T3 but with a much wider body. The 12-hour chrono register is located at 9 o’clock, the 30-minute chrono register at 3 and the running seconds in all grey at 6 o’clock. The date aperture is discreetly positioned at 4 o’clock with a calendar disc in dark blue with white numbers.

Another completely new design in the Royal Oak Offshore 42 mm line are the partially skeletonized hands with luminescent tips that the ref. 26480TI is equipped with. Additionally, the central chrono seconds hand in blue features a white tip for easy reading of the elapsed times.

The Case

The redesigned case construction in the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26480TI is the first thing that everyone will notice when comparing it to all other 42 mm Offshores. While this new watch is equipped with a 42 mm titanium case, the case is relatively more slender at 12.8 mm in thickness versus the traditional 14.6 mm thickness on the other 42 mm Offshores. To the naked eye the case profile looks thiner as well as its titanium that also appears to be slightly wider —similar to that on the Royal Oak Offshore Diver.

The just released Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26480TI also features a brand new look when it comes to its crown guards, pusher guards, pushers and screw-down crown. All made in titanium, the prominent pusher and crown guards have a relatively similar look to those on 44 mm Offshores.

The rectangular pushers and the screw-down crown feature a striking blue enamel accent that wraps around the base of the crown and that is also present at the the base of the chrono pushers on top and bottom.

While the case and most of all the components are satin-brushed finished, the chronograph pushers are satin-brushed on their facets but feature minor mirror polished chamfers. A nice contrast against the satin-brushed finishing and the mirror polished hex-screws on the pusher/crown guards. The screw-down crown also features a mix of satin-brushed and mirror polish finishes.

The Case Back

Considering that the new Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26480TI.OO.A027CA.01 is powered by the same calibre 2385 powering the Royal Oak Chronograph, Audemars Piguet opted for a solid case back to probably conceal the big space between the edge of the case and the movement. Calibre 2385 has a diameter of only 26.2 mm versus almost 30 mm for calibre 3126/3840 powering all other modern Royal Oak Offshores.

Fitting such a relatively small movement inside a 42 mm case forced AP to have a somewhat smaller dial where it was necessary to compensate with a slightly wider bezel, a wide flange and an extra ring around it. Therefore, going with a display case back would’ve probably resulted in a disproportionate amount of metal surrounding a sapphire crystal. A very well played move by AP. The solid case back is really nicely finished with geometrical shapes and an AP logo at the center.

Lastly, it is relevant to mention that the watch we perused, features what could be a brand new way of Audemars Piguet numbering their cases with a random alpha-numeric serial —similar to what Rolex is doing nowadays. Pertaining this, we’ll have to wait and see if this is the case or if this is just a type of serial used for prototyping.

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26480TI.OO.A027CA.01 wears slightly wider than other 42 mm Royal Oak Offshores because of the more prominent crown/pusher guards but much flatter —less clunkier— on the wrist as the watch is almost two millimeters thinner. A perfect hybrid between the 44 mm Offshores —hard to wear for many with smaller wrists— and the latest generation of 42 mm ones.

A great looking watch that for sure will be a success marking a new era and new generation for the Royal Oak Offshore. Watch is not a limited edition and is delivered on a blue rubber strap with titanium pin buckle.

Sticker Price $26,800 USD. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.