Last week, we brought you the news straight from Geneva at the SIHH 2016 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Geneve, on the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph ref. 26703ST. With all the hype and energy about the novelties while at the SIHH 2016, we had very little time to really analyze this new watch from Audemars Piguet in depth and give you our objective thoughts and feelings about it.
If you have been an Audemars Piguet collector for a while, you clearly know what model in the Royal Oak Offshore collection these watches resemble. We knew it as soon as we walked into Audemars Piguet's booth and saw the new four Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronos. For those of you that are relatively new to AP and its history, let's give you some background.
Back in 1997 during Baselworld —one of the last memorable years Audemars Piguet was there before moving to the SIHH Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie—, Audemars Piguet surprised everyone with eight colorful prototypes of the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Royal Oak. At that point, the original Royal Oak Offshore ref. 25721ST had just been launched back in 1993 and four years later a new case design ref. 25770ST was being released with eight loud unique colorful dials that left everyone in awe. The new models, were literally a rainbow of colors including yellow, orange, apple green, bright red, turquoise, burgundy/brown, lavender and blue. Below images courtesy of Royal Oak Club.
As you can see, the resemblance between the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chrono ref. 26703ST and the Royal Oak Offshore ref. 25770ST is quite clear. In our opinion, the new AP Diver Chrono was launched with more than pure coincidence in mind. After perusing the new AP Diver Chrono for a good half an hour, we can tell you that the watch is of course nice and very well made —just like any other Audemars Piguet watch—, but definitely not made for everyone. This is for sure a watch that needs to be seen in person to be really appreciated and we think that only those that are hardcore AP collectors with multiple APs will be able to pull it off, otherwise, you might run the risk of looking like you're trying too hard. Now, if you are looking for that type of attention, you need to look elsewhere and head over to see what Hublot has in store for you with 300+ different limited editions.
Since we were not able to take hands-on pictures of the lime green model outside of the showcase, we have decided to add this picture we took in front of the glass for you to get your thoughts around it. This lime green AP Diver Chrono is only available at the Audemars Piguet Boutique in Geneva and it wasn't available to us during our meeting with AP at the SIHH 2016.
Even though were only able to see the lime green model through the glass, we can tell you with confidence, that that one, is the model we liked the least. If we really had to have one of these new AP Diver Chronos, we would first go with the blue followed then by the orange as our second choice.
Now, let's move on to our objective thoughts and review of the watch. The new watch is exactly like the regular Offshore Diver in terms of size, case finish and type of strap/buckle. The biggest difference other than the obvious color scheme and chrono function, is that the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph is fitted with ceramic crowns instead of rubber. Now, the first thing that we have to question regarding this new release —outside the color scheme not made for everyone— is the pricing strategy.
While adding a chronograph function to the movement and ceramic crowns/pushers makes the watch more expensive for sure, we really think that pricing this watch higher than the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph —priced at $25,600 USD— was a little bit too ambitious. While the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver is a true diver's watch thanks to its ISO 6425 certification, we need to keep in mind that this is not an in-house chrono but just a modular chronograph were a chrono module has been added to the base calibre Audemars Piguet calibre 3120. This new calibre is now referred to as 3124/3841 with a power reserve of 50 hours. Therefore, no column-wheel chronograph here and we really think its time for Audemars Piguet to finally release a column-wheel in-house chronograph movement once and for all.
Lastly, the new AP Diver Chrono doesn't even feature a date function and the chrono is a 30-minute chrono versus the 12-hour chrono you get on the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph that is now priced lower. Considering all these elements, do you guys really think that the price makes sense? Regardless of the fact the the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chrono is a boutique exclusive, we really feel the price is hefty for what you are getting when compared to other watches from the same brand.
On the wrist, the watch wears really nice just like any other Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver and true to its size. However, considering the price difference between the AP Diver Chrono and the Royal Oak Offshore Chrono, wouldn't you rather get the latter instead, with its 12-hour chrono and date functions?
Sticker Price $27,900 USD. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.