By Michael Mashuta
As a pillar of fine Swiss watch making, Audemars Piguet has made incredibly exquisite and innovative timepieces over the past 139 years. One of the Manufacture’s iconic collections — the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph — marked its twenty-first birthday earlier this year. Labeled as forward-thinking and rebellious at inception, the new iteration celebrates this milestone with a mature, contemporary design that is a natural evolution of this benchmark luxury sports watch.
The latest Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph clearly honors the legacy of its original 1993 design and devoted fans need not fear that any signature features have been diluted. Polished steel hexagonal screws lie perfectly flush with the satin-brushed octagonal bezel. Bold Arabic numerals with luminescent coating overlay Audemars Piguet’s textured, waffle-like “Mega-Tapisserie” dial. The deeply set date wheel echoes the color scheme of the dial. White or rose gold “AP” initials sit just to the left of the date window, above the full Audemars Piguet logo. The subsidiary dials for the running seconds and elapsed minutes and hours lurk underneath the sweep of the central chronograph seconds hand.
Audemars Piguet integrated many subtle, evolutionary features into the genes of this new reference. The screw-lock crown and push pieces are now black ceramic, with sculpted angles that mirror the hard edges of the bezel. Sports chronographs must clearly indicate the time under all conditions; this watch excels with broader hour and minute hands. The polished, decorative fillets edging the hour markers, subsidiary dials, and date window hint at Audemars Piguet’s impressive finishing techniques. The company’s fine watch making heritage is confirmed when the watch is turned over and the automatic movement is visible through the sapphire crystal exhibition back.
Spinning effortlessly with the slightest inclination of the watch, the 22 karat gold oscillating mass is engraved with the crests of the Audemars and Piguet families. This rotor dominates the view inside the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph. The tiny masterpiece is functional as well as beautiful, amassing an impressive 50 hour power reserve and driving the chronograph when activated. Every movement is hand-decorated and hand-assembled. The juxtaposition of the intricately finished movement with the avant-garde exterior of the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph celebrates the collection’s original spirit of rebellion on its twenty-first birthday.
The Manufacture has a deeply rooted tradition of excellence, beginning in the Vallee de Joux region of Switzerland in 1875. Two ambitious inhabitants, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet, instilled their passion for innovation in the founding of their new maison. The company proudly remains headquartered in Le Brassus and is still family-owned to this day. The continuity of watch making knowledge across generations ensures talented execution of haute horology’s most complex finishing and complications.
Audemars Piguet has released six unique variations of the new reference: four in steel and two in rose gold. The grandest statement of sports luxury in the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph collection is the rose gold case and solid rose gold bracelet. Each link of the bracelet is individually beveled, polished, and brushed. Audemars Piguet’s decorating savoir-faire creates the contrasting angles and surfaces that make the full rose gold version an impressive sight on the wrist. The alligator-strapped edition provides a darker backdrop and focuses the eye on the honey-colored dial with deep black subsidiary dials and inner bezel. The case size of 42 millimeters — a return to the original design — is a perfect, modern dimension for an iconic sports chronograph.
While some of us may prefer a loud and uncompromising celebration on our birthday, others may opt for a more modest approach. For those in the latter group, the steel-cased models are slightly more subtle expressions of the Royal Oak. The most versatile is the crisp slate grey model, where the architectural beauty of the Royal Oak Offshore case shines atop the neutral colors. Red accents, such as the subsidiary hands and stitching against a black dial and alligator strap, create a sportier version of the chronograph. The Safari edition features brown counters sunk into an ivory dial. The khaki palette is reinforced with a brown alligator strap and cream stitching. For the final iteration, a contemporary orange and royal blue color scheme and flexible rubber strap are fresh and modern influences on the classic Royal Oak design.
With the introduction of the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, Audemars Piguet redefined benchmark for luxury sports chronographs. Honoring their traditional pursuit of excellence, the latest reference fuses the craftsmens’ mastery of materials with intelligent, evolving design. All six of the 2014 releases are unique expressions of Audemars Piguet’s passion and expertise. These references celebrate the twenty-first birthday of the collection and offer owners the opportunity to share in the family-owned Manufacture’s motto, “To break the rules,
you must first master them.”
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