The iconic and legendary Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940 needs very little introduction and is for sure one of those watches that is worth explaining in-depth, especially since it marks the first use of rubber as a main component in the watch industry. The AP Rubberclad is a watch that we've seen on the wrists of dozen of celebrities and AP lovers and a watch that is living testament of the continued innovation that AP has brought to the watch industry since the launch of the Royal Oak in 1972.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad reference 25940 was launched in 2002 as the first watch to ever utilize rubber as one of its main components and the second luxury timepiece to be fitted with a rubber strap after the MDM Genève Hublot. While many think that the octagonal bezel on this particular reference is just a piece of natural rubber, the reality is that the rubber is simply a clad or coating that wraps around the stainless steel or 18K rose gold bezel of the watch.
Just like in 1972 when Audemars Piguet surprised everyone with a stainless steel luxury sports watch priced at the price of gold, the same happened in 2002 when they dared to cover a gold bezel with rubber with the release of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad. Below, we see the latest iteration of ref. 25940OK in 18K pink gold and the old school ref. 25940SK in stainless steel with silvered dial.
While using rubber in the watch industry was quite groundbreaking back in 2002; today, is no longer the case, as this is a material that is now heavily used by many watch brands when it comes to their crowns, straps and many other exterior components. However, for a company like Audemars Piguet, rubber-clad bezels still remain very special. Just to put things in perspective, only eight out of a total of 118 Royal Oak Offshore references are equipped with rubber-clad bezels like that on reference 25940 and only one Royal Oak reference.
After the success of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad in 2002, Audemars Piguet released nine very special limited edition watches within the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore collections that also bear a rubber-clad bezel. These limited edition watches are the following:
2005 - Royal Oak Offshore Rubens Barrichello 1 ref. 26071IK.OO.D002CA.01, 150-piece limited edition in titanium with a rubber-clad bezel and 5 additional pieces with a different dial.
2006 - Royal Oak Offshore Orchard Road ref. 26082TK.OO.D002CA.01, 100-piece limited edition for the Audemars Piguet Boutique Singapore in tantalum with rubber-clad bezel. The dial features a red 8 as the address for the AP Boutique in Singapore is Orchard Road No. 8.
2006 - Royal Oak Offshore 'Campioni del Mondo 2006' ref. 26169.OK.O.D002.CA.01, 24-piece limited edition in 18K pink gold and rubber-clad bezel, identical to reference 25940OK but bearing a special engraving on the case back. Watch was presented as a gift to the Italian National Soccer Team that won the World Cup in 2006.
2008 - Royal Oak Offshore Perpetual Calendar Chronograph for Italian authorized dealer 'Restivo' ref. 26262OK.00.1150CA.01, 25-piece limited edition in 18K pink gold and rubber-clad bezel, with a very similar look to that of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940OK. Restivo is the top jeweler in Corso, Sicily.
2009 - Royal Oak Offshore 'Tour Auto 2009' Limited Edition ref. 26278IK.GG.D002CA.01, 100-piece limited edition in titanium with rubber-clad bezel.
2009 - Royal Oak Offshore 'National Classic Tour 2009' Limited Edition ref. 26279IK.GG.D002CA.01, 40-piece limited edition in titanium with rubber-clad bezel.
2009 - Royal Oak Offshore 'Gstaad Classic' Limited Edition ref. 26296IK.GG.D003CU.01, 51-piece limited edition in titanium with rubber-clad bezel.
2010 - Royal Oak Offshore 57th Street ref. 26298SK.OO.D101CR.01, 250-piece limited edition in stainless steel with a rubber-clad bezel and exclusively available at the AP Boutique in NYC.
2012 - Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph ref. 2026377SK.OO.D002CA.01, stainless steel and rubber-clad bezel.
The Different Generations of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940
As far as we are concerned, there are three generations of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad; however, there are only two different generations of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940. The first generation —typically referred to as the 'original old school' Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad— was produced between 2002 and 2012 and the second generation —referred to as the 'last one'— was produced from 2012 through the end of 2013.
While both generations bear the same reference 25940 and are fitted with a 42 mm case, subtle nuances differentiate the first from the latter.
First Generation of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940
The first generation is more simple looking, doesn't have any surrounds or borders on the chrono registers or numerals and is equipped with a white calendar disc. For this first generation, the references are the following: stainless steel black dial ref. 25940SK.OO.D002CA.01, stainless steel silvered dial ref. 25940SK.OO.D002CA.02 and 18K rose gold grey dial ref. 25940OK.OO.D002CA.01. The production timeline falls within the 'F-series' to end of 'G-series'.
Second Generation of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940
The second generation of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad was released by Audemars Piguet in 2012 with production halting around the end of 2013. With the release of this second generation, AP marked the official discontinuation of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad with silvered dial.
The second generation of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad features the following nuances when compared to its predecessor: applied AP logo in white/pink gold, white/pink gold surrounds on the chrono registers —white gold for stainless steel and pink gold for the 18K pink gold reference—, white/pink gold raised borders on the Arabic numerals, a darker shade of grey with an anthracite dial on the 18K pink gold model and everyone's favorite addition, a coveted black calendar disc.
The last iteration of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940 falls within the 'H-serial' production series and the references are the following: 25940SK.OO.D002CA.03 for the stainless steel model with black dial and 25940OK.OO.D002CA.02 for the 18K rose gold reference.
Third Generation of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad
Additionally, what very few people know, is that there is a vaguely known third generation —but only for the 18K pink gold model— that marked the official discontinuation of this iconic watch in 2013. This third generation only available through the Audemars Piguet boutique network and with probably no more than a hundred pieces ever produced —late H-serials and very early I-serials—, was equipped with calibre 3126/3840 instead of the calibre 2326/2840 —powering all previous Rubberclads—, was given a new reference number and fitted with a completely different case back.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad in 18K pink gold ref. 26178OK.OO.D002CA.01 officially replaced reference 25940OK.OO.D002CA.02 and marked the disappearance of the stainless steel model with black dial ref. 25940SK.OO.D002CA.03 and the last production run for this legendary watch.
While the third generation 18K pink gold Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad looks almost identical —at least from the dial side— to the second generation ref. 25940OK; there are some slight nuances upon closer examination.
1. Reference 26178OK.OO.D002CA.01 has a slightly lighter shade of color and a slightly smaller and different font on the calendar disc when compared to reference 25940OK.OO.D002CA.02. Please see the pictures below with the first picture being of ref. 25940OK and the second picture being ref. 26178OK.
2. The construction of the case back on ref. 26178OK is like that on the case back of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver but in 18K pink gold. Please see pictures below with the first picture being of the ref. 25940OK and the second picture being ref. 26178OK.
Removing the Rubber from the Bezel of the Rubberclad
A question that comes up very frequently across different watch fora and around circles of watch collectors throughout the world is if the rubber from the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad can be removed? Well, the answer is yes. Below, please see a couple of pictures of two 'Naked Rubberclads'. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad in 18K rose gold ref. 25940OK.OO.D002CA.01 belonging to a close friend of ours, was stripped from its rubber coating to reveal the beauty of its 18K pink gold bezel. While the first successful attempt of stripping a Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad bezel from its rubber layer was made by watch collector and watch dealer Giulio Bonaccio based out of New York several years ago, only a handful of collectors after him had succeeded.
For those of you already tempted, please know that removing the rubber from the bezel is not an easy feat and one that if done incorrectly can leave the watch completely damaged and in need of a new bezel —stainless steel or 18K pink gold included.
First, the watch needs to be dismantled to remove the bezel from the case. Then, the rubber needs to be torched off —burnt— from the bezel. After removing the rubber, you will then notice that the hexagonal screws will now protrude above the bezel since they were originally flushed against the rubber coating. To correct this situation, a very skillful watchmaker would need to slightly file the bottom of those hex screws so that they can now sit as flushed as possible with the bezel. However, the best advice we can give you, is to leave your Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad untouched and maintain the integrity of its iconic design as is. Now, if you really want to give it a try, then be ready to pony up some extra cash in case something goes wrong.
For many of us, this is one of the most beautiful Royal Oak Offshores out there and without a doubt, a true icon when it comes to Audemars Piguet timepieces. In all, the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad is a watch that wowed everyone back in 2002 and one that continues to wow collectors after 14 years since its launch.
Now, for those of you thinking on picking up a pre-owned Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad but having second thoughts because you are worried about the rubberclad bezel becoming too shiny over time, here are two things we can suggest doing if you end up buying one. First, avoid touching the bezel with greasy hands and then rubbing off that grease with a dry cloth. If you do so, it will be like adding polishing cream to a shoe and then rubbing it to make it shinier.
Second, make sure you wash your watch with dish washing soap and a soft brush at least twice a week or immediately after it's been in contact with greasy hands or any greasy substance. Other than that, you should be good to go. The picture below shows the bezel on our Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940OK still looking quite matte after almost two years of ownership from new. Worst case scenario if the bezel gets nicked, chipped or too shiny, the Audemars Piguet Service Center will be able to replace the rubber coating on the bezel for a small fee in the range of $1,800-2,800 USD depending on the metal.
Long live the legendary Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940.
Last Know Sticker Price $40,700 USD for 18K pink gold and $25,300 for stainless steel. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.