Rare Bird: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubens Barrichello II Titanium. Seven Years After its Launch, Still One of the Top Grails Among AP Collectors.

On August 23, 2006, Audemars Piguet presented the Royal Oak Offshore Rubens Barrichello II in Istanbul, Turkey. Today, seven years later, this iconic watch is still one of the most coveted timepieces among Audemars Piguet watchlifestylers as well as watch collectors in general. This watch, honoring the Brazilian Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello —Ayrton Senna's disciple— is a perfect example of the forward thinking and cutting edge design that Audemars Piguet has always had since the launch of the Royal Oak in 1972.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubens Barrichello II a.k.a. RBII was launched as a limited edition timepiece in three different metals: 1000 pieces in Titanium, 500 in 18K Rose Gold and 150 in Platinum.

This watch ref. 26078IO.OO.D001VS.01 in titanium comes fitted with a very solid case measuring 42mm in diameter, a bezel and pushers made of ceramic, a beautifully wheel-shaped engraved case back and a partially openworked dial with the 'Méga Tapisserie Racing' pattern. Without a doubt, this watch is one of the most amazing timepieces ever created by Audemars Piguet.

Just like the Royal Oak Offshore 'Juan Pablo Montoya', the design of this watch is heavily inspired by the Formula One racing world and that inspiration is clearly visible all over the different components and elements of this watch. From the engine hex screws to the wheel-shaped case back, the pushers shaped like air-extractors, the cogwheel-shaped crown, the pedal-shaped plots and its ceramic bezel in the shape of a ventilated brake disc, all of them exude car racing.

The black 'anfibio' leather strap on this RBII is made of very supple leather lined with 'Alcantara', a flame retardant fiber —similar in look and feel to suede composed of 68% polyester and 32% polyurethane— that is used to cover the driver seats in some of the Formula One race cars.

The strap features perforations that are reminiscent of driving gloves or leather straps on vintage car racing inspired timepieces. The strap is extremely comfortable and extremely easy to secure with its nice folding buckle.

This Offshore is one of the first ones to be fitted with the newer automatic Audemars Piguet chronograph calibre 2326/2840. The partial openworked dial allows for limited view of the movement and the central gear is the most prominent when it comes to what is visible through the 'Méga Tapisserie Racing' grated dial.

The dial is beautiful and perfectly balanced with enough color to make it pop. The hands on the chrono registers come in the three colors of the Brazilian flag, honoring 'Rubinho' even more. As a side note, Rubens Barrichello was born the same year as the Royal Oak making this timepiece even more attractive for those that are passionate about everything that has to do with the Royal Oak.

The wrist presence of the RBII is so remarkable that spotting one in the wild could be a simple task; however, running into one is as hard as it gets.

Even though the RBII measures 42mm in diameter, it wears slightly bigger than other Offshores because of its case construction with more prominent chrono pushers and a cogwheel-shaped crown.

Considered one of the fifteen iconic Royal Oaks by Audemars Piguet, this watch is a true grail piece that is becoming more and more scarce as the years go by. We often see WTB —wanting to buy— ads in the online watch forums, but buyers beware as most RBIIs for sale are rarely BNIB —brand new in box— but more LNIB —like new in box. Perhaps there are a couple left somewhere in the world still BNIB.

If you find one, make sure the condition is as described and expect to pay anywhere between $40,000-50,000 USD. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.