It was in 1993 that Audemars Piguet launched the Royal Oak Offshore. A natural evolution of the Royal Oak launched in 1972, the supersized 'Offshore' was large, bold, rugged and highly functional. Genta’s original Royal Oak was the definitive source of reference and inspiration for the Royal Oak Offshore designed by a talented, young, second generation designer working for Audemars Piguet named Emmanuel Gueit. The new design diverged from the original in several significant ways that came to be the defining characteristics of the Royal Oak Offshore. The most pronounced shift was the dramatic case size of 42 mm. While this is standard fare in 2014, it was a shock when introduced in 1993 at Baselworld. By this time, the watch had already been nicknamed, ‘The Beast’ due to its staggering proportions. One of the most dramatic and unexpected of those interpretations appeared in 2010 in the form of the first Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph featuring a hand-wound movement and a case incorporating forged carbon and ceramic reviewed here.
Now, four years later, Audemars Piguet is proud to present an entirely new Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph fitted with a selfwinding movement. The new in-house calibre 2897 which has been especially developed to be the beating heart of this watch, is comprised of 335 parts. Fully visible via the display case back, this new movement is a true, micro mechanical work of art.
Among the many revolutionary components used in this new calibre 2897, it stands out that the movement features a peripheral oscillating weight made from satin-brushed, 950 platinum. The calibre and its oscillating weight are also visible via a special aperture at the one o’clock position on the dial side as well as underneath the clear flange. To protect this sublimely beautiful powerhouse, Audemars Piguet's designers have created a very special version of the Royal Oak Offshore case based on modern, black colored materials: forged carbon for the middle, ceramic for the bezel, titanium and ceramic for the push pieces and rubber for the strap.
The Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph is an exceptional blend of traditional watchmaking savoir faire and high tech thinking. Fitted with the calibre 2897 designed, developed and created entirely in-house, Audemars Piguet used the very latest in horological technology combined with the classic watch making skills for which the company has been renowned since its founding almost 140 years ago. The peripheral oscillating weight made from 950 platinum is mounted on ball bearings. The size of the 180 degree oscillating weight has been specifically optimized, and the center of the case recessed in order to allow the weight to rotate a full 360 degrees. Its position on the edge of the movement means the overall thickness of the watch is not increased, making for both a slimmer overall profile —only 14 mm thick— and allowing the exceptional chronograph mechanism to be clearly viewed through the sapphire crystal case back.
The tourbillon contained within the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph brings this historic device right in to the 21st century by way of a blackened, titanium bridge. It takes a master watch maker almost three days to assemble the tourbillon carriage comprised of 85 parts yet weighs a mere 0.45 grams.
Audemars Piguet is a master of the chronograph —as seen in the fact that the firm's oldest piece in its heritage collection is an 1881 'foudroyante' version. This long experience manifests itself in the instantly visible column wheel of the Calibre 2897 movement, which marks it out as being one of the finest mechanisms of its type and serves to perfectly coordinate the start, stop and reset phases. Observers of the complication in action, will notice the perfect smoothness with which the chronograph hand takes off when timing begins —a result of the specially developed coupling yoke principle which has been designed to eliminate the characteristic jerkiness of less efficient mechanisms. Audemars Piguet's engineers have further refined the system by adding a shock-resisting hook. Meticulous hand assembly and adjustment of the chronograph components further enhance its smooth functionality by providing the pushpieces with an exceptional degree of 'feel'.
The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chrono is fitted with a black ceramic bezel, a 44 mm middle case in forged carbon, ceramic and titanium pushers set within separate titanium guards secured to the main body of the case by four visible screws and a black 'Mega Tapisserie' dial with red accents.
The new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph will be officially launched at the end of next month at the Watches & Wonders fair in Hong Kong and will be produced in a limited edition of 50 pieces under reference 26550AU.OO.A002CA.01.
Sticker Price $285,600 USD. For more info on Audemars Piguet click here.