In the past month, we've been contacted by several collectors trying to get more information regarding the first series of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore a.k.a. 'The Beast' ref. 25721ST.OO.1000ST.01. with its iconic queen blue dial —more about this particular hue of blue here. Also, recently we've found more activity in places like Timezone, ThePurists and TRF, regarding this iconic watch. As there is not much information out there, other than the 'Unleashing The Beast' article posted by Audemars Piguet —on their museum piece No. 32— and the information we've shared in the past across different watch forums and here, we thought it would be a good idea to finally create the most comprehensive guide to date in order to help buyers and sellers of the reference 25721ST.OO.1000ST.01. As these watches start getting hotter and prices start to increase, let's make sure that everyone selling gets fair money and collectors avoid underpaying or overpaying for this Audemars Piguet grail nicknamed 'The Beast'.
Our findings and information come from studying this particular Audemars Piguet reference 25721ST for more than 18 years —since we first fell in love with this watch during a casual in-person encounter as we talked about it here— and after owning one of the first 200 Offshores ever made for over eight years now. Additionally, we've made in-depth comparisons between the first 500 watches ever produced of the reference 25721ST and latter examples of 'The Beast' falling within the D and E-Series production timelines.
Therefore, we can confidently say that all first 200 examples of this coveted reference fall within the D-Series production period of Audemars Piguet timepieces and are way more special and unique than their successors. The rest of examples we've studied, fall within the E-series production period and don't have many of the attributes associated to early Royal Oak Offshore ref. 25721ST examples. Based on what we know so far, it seems like no more than 2,600 examples of reference 25721ST.OO.1000ST.01 a.k.a. 'The Beast' with its signature blue dial were ever produced. Unfortunately, Audemars Piguet hasn't been able to confirm for us the exact production number. Keep in mind that is very difficult and quite a task, to provide a number when certain 25721ST watches were fitted with different dials at the early stages of the launch of the Offshore 'Themes' line in the early 2000s.
Of all examples we've looked at in the past, there are no 25721ST 'The Beast' falling within the F-series production timeline; therefore, we can fairly assume that the production of this reference with this particular dial had already been halted by then and replaced by the launch of the 'Themes' Royal Oak Offshore line with reference 25721ST.OO.1000ST.09 and reference 26020ST circa 2003-2004. Per our research, production of the Royal Oak Offshore reference 25721ST 'The Beast' started in the D-20000s and only a total of approximately 1,250 pieces fall within the D-serial production period, making these examples more coveted. Of course the first 500 watches are extremely more rare and bear some nuances we will be explaining here.
Back in 1989 when Stephen Urquhart —the current President of Omega Watches— was Joint Chairman and Delegate of the Board of Directors at Audemars Piguet, he asked a young designer who had just joined AP a year earlier named Emmanuel Gueit, to come up with a celebratory piece for the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak. The result, a massive Royal Oak look-alike designed with adventure-seekers in mind. While most people at Audemars Piguet felt that the design wasn't good enough, Stephen Urquhart supported the project and ultimately became the man who would name Gueit's creation 'Royal Oak Offshore'. Nicknamed 'The Beast' due to its massive case proportions measuring 42 mm in diameter —excluding the crown— and 15 mm in thickness, the Royal Oak Offshore presented in 1993 at Baselworld, seemed to be a monster of a watch with little to no foreseen future success. Six years later, it's creator Emmanuel Gueit would depart AP. Today, the Royal Oak Offshore is as successful as it was never expected to be, just like it happened in 1972 with the Royal Oak. "The story repeats itself."
The Case & Case Back Details
It is well documented that since Audemars Piguet wasn't sure that the name 'Royal Oak Offshore' was the appropriate name for this watch, the first 100 examples of the Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST.OO.1000ST.01 do not bear the word 'Offshore' on their case backs. Additionally, other markings are also missing between the first 100 examples and the following batches. Production of the Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST started around serial D-20000 with the first 200 pieces produced not past serial D-24000. Then a third batch —300 pieces— was produced around the D-40000 series range.
Additionally, we have not seen any examples of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore reference 25721ST.OO.1000ST.01 past the E-54500 production series. The last documented example we’ve seen falls within this production number and not past the 2600 individual serial number. The early example below —last digits from its case number and production serial number erased for security reasons—, only features the word 'Royal Oak' and does not feature any other markings other than its case number for the reference and the production series number. Additionally, the case number doesn't include the hash on the superscript 'No.' as found on latter examples.
The next early example below —last digits from its case number and production serial number erased for security reasons—, from the next batch '100-1,000' Royal Oak Offshore reference 25721ST ever produced, now features engravings that include: 'Royal Oak Offshore', the word 'Automatic', the 'AP' logo and the 'No.' includes a hash on the superscript 'o'. These two watches are slightly over one hundred pieces apart and their case numbers and production serial numbers and in perfect chronological order. Additionally, the engraving of the letter-prefix production serial number was lowered to be located more in between the two bottom screws of the case back.
Latter examples of 'The Beast' show a slightly different font and more spacing between the letters in the word 'Offshore' as well as a larger 'Royal Oak' engraving that extends way past the second 'o' on the word 'Offshore' as seen on this example in the No. 2000s and production period E-39000s.
Examples closer to the end of the run of the Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'The Beast', show a tighter engraving of the word 'Offshore' with a more similar look to the engraving found on the first 500 pieces ever made. Also note there is a slightly different font on the letter-prefix production serial number when compared to other examples also in the No. 2000s case number range as seen in the picture above. Additionally, all Royal Oak Offshores 25721ST feature a special anti-magnetic casing to protect the movement. This anti-magnetic casing, is only visible once you remove the case back. The cover for the anti-magnetic casing is secured by with four very small screws and before anyone can take a look at the movement inside a Royal Oak Offshore, they will have to remove the case back and then the cover for the anti-magnetic casing.
The Bracelet & The Clasp
The second most important attribute only present on the first batch of 500 pieces of the Royal Oak Offshore reference 25721ST ever produced is the type of clasp that comes with the bracelet. This special clasp with double-folding blade-like construction —similar to that on Royal Oak Jumbos reference 5402— is not only present on the first 100 examples of 'The Beast' as stated by Audemars Piguet, but it is also found on the next 400 examples of the Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST up until case No. 500. With this being said, all first 500 examples of the Royal Oak Offshore ref. 25721ST were fitted with this type of clasp.
This type of clasp is a 'must-have' when it comes to purchasing a correct example of an early D-series Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'The Beast'. This type of double-folding clasp was later replaced by another double-folding clasp with more of an open structure clasp just like that found on the rest of modern Royal Oak Offshores.
If you find a Royal Oak Offshore reference 25721ST within the first 500 pieces ever made and the bracelet doesn't have this type of blade clasp, is very likely that the clasp was replaced by the seller either, to make extra money in the future or because it got damaged from wear. Any early example —case serial No. up to 500— without this clasp, should command a lesser price, even if the watch comes from the first unmarked 100 pieces. A correct example should have all special elements present to maintain its future value untouched.
The picture below shows an E-serial 25721ST.OO.1000ST.01 on the left side, next to a D-serial example of the first 200-piece batch of the Royal Oak Offshore reference 25721ST a.k.a. 'The Beast'. It is clear to see the difference in the clasp construction.
Additionally, while the bracelet construction or design between early Royal Oak Offshores reference 25721ST and latter ones didn't change at all —other than the clasp—, one small detail remains quite important in making sure the bracelet is correct for the time period of the watch. The extra removable links on these early 500 examples of the 25721ST, were secured by four screws. Two small screws on each side of the removable links.
The blue dial on early examples features a 'petite tapisserie' motif that is slightly more spaced out than that found on Royal Oak Jumbos ref. 5402. The most important differences regarding the dial on early and latter examples of reference 25721ST 'The Beast', are the hue and the size of the tapisserie.
The first 1,000 pieces have a tighter 'petite tapisserie' pattern on their dials when compared to the pattern found on latter pieces. If one counts the number of squares right along the top of the 'Audemars Piguet' writing —starting at the edge on the right side of the hands pinion—, one will find that there are nine squares from there to the edge of where the date aperture begins. On latter examples, one will see that there are only eight squares across that same area.
In addition to the tighter 'petite tapisserie', the dial on the first 1,000 pieces of the 25721ST ever made, has also a different hue of blue when compared to the hue of blue in latter examples. While the hue on the first 1,000 pieces is more of a true Queen Blue, the latter examples show a slightly purpleish blue hue depending on lighting conditions. Since the Offshore 25721ST is not equipped with a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment, the dial tends to look very different depending on the amount of glare reflecting on the watch's crystal. Looking directly in front of the watch with no glare on the crystal gives the dial a deeper richer and more dark blue. However, when you look at it at an angle, the dial is more of a Queen Blue. Please look at the difference between the two side-by-side pictures below.
Another commonality among early examples of the Royal Oak Offshore reference 25721ST —regardless of being D or E production series— is the unstable paint that was utilized to produce these dials. It is well known by Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore collectors, that most dials produced between 1972 and 1999 will degrade over time. These dials, tend to become 'brownish' as the paint on them starts to flake and the brass plate on the dial starts to show. We've seen this happen hundreds of times with vintage Royal Oaks and Royal Oak Offshores.
While Rolex collectors refer to 'brownish' dials as 'tropical dials' —typically water damaged dials or dials in watches exposed to high humidity environments in tropical countries—, when it comes to Audemars Piguet, this is not necessary the result of exposing the watches to high humidity environments or water damage. Therefore, a Royal Oak or Royal Oak Offshore with a brownish dial, should not be labeled as 'tropical' or necessarily considered to be a watch previously damaged by water —it could be, however, further examination of the interior of the case and movement should take place. A perfect example of 'dial color degradation' is our very own early Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'The Beast'. This watch never been exposed to water since its last service in 2009 and not located in a tropical paradise, shows a progressive dial discoloration due to the unstable paint on it. If you run into older pictures of our watch, you'll see how different it looks now.
Here is a latter example in the 2000s with E-serial showing that same type of color degradation and 'browning' effect.
The picture below —E-serial on the left and our early D-serial on the right—, shows the difference in hue of the dial as we explained it earlier. Furthermore, both watches from completely different production periods, are going through the same 'browning' effect at different levels.
The Pushers & Crown
This is yet another 'must-have' element on any correct Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore reference 25721ST 'The Beast' —regardless of its production date. 'The Beast' is equipped with blue 'therban' pushers and crown. The pushers and crown are wrapped with a rubber-like material developed by Dupont called 'therban'. This material, is a high performance elastomer that is fireproof to very high temperatures. Unfortunately, some examples of 'The Beast' that have been serviced outside of Audemars Piguet service facilities will have rubber clad black pushers and crown, instead of the blue 'therban' correct ones.
The Presentation Box
In addition, early examples —around the first 500 pieces from what we've researched—, were sold with a very distinctive green leather octagonal presentation box with a circular port window on the top of the box that would allow the owner to view the watch inside the box. The box features blue accents around the top of the lid and the bottom of the box. These blue accents closely match the color of the dial on 'The Beast' 25721ST.
Just as it happens with A-series Royal Oak Jumbos or any other highly collectible watch, the nuances between early and latter examples of a particular reference will have a direct impact on pricing. Additionally, watches that are 'correct' as well as watches with boxes and papers will command even higher prices. While earlier examples of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore ref. 25721ST.OO.1000ST.01 a.k.a. 'The Beast' will command higher prices than latter examples, the pricing of 'all correct' early examples will always be exponentially higher than that of an early example missing certain attributes that should've been present on the watch to be considered 'all correct'.
To make things easier on sellers and buyers, here's a pricing guide based on what we've seen across collectors purchasing or selling the D-Series and E-Series 25721ST in the past year.
Price ranges vary depending on the condition of the watch and the availability of box and papers. Of course lower case numbers or case numbers with triple eights or double eights will command higher prices.
Unmarked Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'D-serial, Case No. 1-100, All Correct, Full Set with special clasp'- $32,000-37,000 USD
Unmarked Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'Missing Correct Clasp, Full Set' - $28,000-30,000 USD
Unmarked Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'Missing Correct Pushers, Full Set' - $29,000-31,000 USD
Unmarked Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'Missing Correct Clasp and Correct Pushers, Full Set' - $27,000-29,000 USD
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'D-serial, Case No. 100-500, All Correct, Full Set with special clasp' - $26,000-$28,000 USD
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'D-serial, Case No. 100-500, Missing Correct Clasp, Full Set' - $23,000-25,000 USD
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'D-serial, Case No. 100-500, Missing Correct Pushers, Full Set' - $24,000-26,000 USD
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'D-serial, Case No. 100-500, Missing Correct Clasp and Correct Pushers, Full Set' - $22,000-$25,000 USD
Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'D-Series Case No. 500-1,000, All Correct Full Set' - $19,000-$21,000 USD
Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'D-Series Case No. 500-1,000, All Correct, Not Full Set' - $18,000-$20,000 USD
Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST 'E-Series, All Correct Full Set' - $16,000-$18,000 USD
Hopefully, this guide will help watch collectors across the world, understand this reference better but also ease transactions when purchasing the coveted Audemars Piguet 'The Beast'.
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