The other day, we ran into one of our favorite discontinued limited edition Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore models and decided to work on this quick review for our readers that are AP fans. Alinghi’s victory at the America's Cup in 2003 inspired Audemars Piguet to design an innovative chronograph watch —the Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Polaris— with a special new movement featuring a regatta flyback function, the first of its kind to date.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Team Limited Edition ref. 26062OR.OO.A002CA.01 is a beast of a watch and one that you rarely run into in the wild. This watch of which only 600 pieces were made in rose gold and forged carbon —300 of forged carbon— is fitted with an 18k rose gold case measuring 42 mm in diameter and 14.65 mm in thickness, a forged carbon bezel, a robust over sized ceramic crown, rounded ceramic pushers and a black rubber strap with rose gold pin buckle. As expected, the case construction is very solid just as on any other Royal Oak Offshore and the solid case back is a work of art featuring a delicate relief motif of the 'Alinghi Team' in action and secured with special head screws not commonly present on other timepieces in the Offshore collection. As it is common with AP watches, the chamfers are to die for and just mesmerizing.
While the strap is very nice and supple —with a similar texture to the strap on the Rubber Clad—, unfortunately we can't say the same about the sharp special screws on the exterior of the buckle. These screws dig so much into the back of the wrist that it's almost impossible to wear this watch comfortably considering the top heavy 18k rose gold case.
The black dial with 'grande tapisserie' on the center and concentric circles pattern on the perimeter, features rose gold Arabic numerals, red chronograph seconds hand, red surrounds, the 'Alinghi Team' logo at 3 o'clock right next to the 10-minute regatta countdown aperture, a 20-minute register at 9 and a 6-hour chrono-register at 6 o'clock. The chrono and seconds hands are shaped like a ship's prow while the minute and hour hands are skeletonized with luminous material on the tips. The beating heart inside this watch is the automatic Audemars Piguet calibre 2326/2848 composed of 366 parts, fitted with 50 jewels and which provides a power reserve of 40 hours while beating at a frequency of 28,800vph. Even when most of the owners of this watch really don't use the watch for its intended purpose or even care about how the regatta functions work, we will explain it here for those that care.
During a regatta there are four warning signals that are given by the officials before the sailboats can cross the start line. Once the first warning signal is given 11 minutes before the crossing of the start line, the countdown should be started on the watch by pushing the top pusher —stop/start—, when the second warning signal is given ten minutes before the official start, the bottom pusher —flyback/reset— should be pressed advising the crew that there are only ten minutes left until the start of the race. When the third warning signal is given, the regatta aperture and the register at 9 o'clock will show that there are 5 minutes remaining. One minute before the official crossing of the start line, the regatta aperture shows the number one and the team knows that there is one minute left before the fourth warning signal is given announcing the beginning of the race. When the fourth signal is given, the regatta aperture will show the number ten and the wearer should then press the bottom pusher to start recording the length of the race without needing to stop the chrono thanks to its flyback function.
As mentioned before, the case back is a real treat for the eyes and one can stare at it for hours. The artists at Audemars Piguet really captured the spirit of the 'Alinghi Team' in action with an amazing level of detail on the relief.
On the wrist, the watch feels impressive and provides unparalleled wrist presence wearing way bigger than its actual size because of the protruding crown guards. While this massive watch is very sporty, the precious metal on it gives it enough elegance for it to be worn with a suit or even a tuxedo. For those of you wondering what happened to the partnership between AP and Alinghi, all we can tell you is that their partnership ceased a while back and now Hublot had become their official timekeeper. Go figure why?