Presented in 1993, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, known as “The Beast,” brought a robust, utilitarian look to the Royal Oak. Since its inception, this watch has been regularly updated, adding for instance a 44mm version in the early 2000s. This year, Audemars Piguet is presenting a complete makeover of its robust chronograph, with a new design, a more ergonomic 43mm case, more refined details on the habillage, interchangeable straps and, mostly, the addition of the brand’s integrated selfwinding flyback chronograph, the Calibre 4401. With 5 models honed from stainless steel, 18-carat pink gold or titanium, the new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 43mm is already a solid collection.
After launching the initial Royal Oak in 1972, which caused a revolution in watch design and introduced us to the concept of a luxury steel sports watch, the Offshore collection almost did the same in 1993 when first presented. It was bolder, more disruptive and defined a new genre of luxury watch. Even though all the traits that made the Royal Oak such an iconic piece were still there, many were shocked by the new, robust sibling of the famous Gérald Genta design. Since then, many iterations of the Offshore line have followed and it has found its own place in the Royal Oak lineage.
Fast forward to 2021 and Audemars Piguet presents an important update to its Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph, which is both an in-depth redesign and a big technical update, in the form of a new chronograph movement. Not new in terms of development, as it was introduced in the Code 11.59 collection in 2019, it is new to the Royal Oak Offshore and thus this range of chronographs. Presented in stainless steel, titanium or 18k pink gold, it houses the integrated flyback chronograph movement and breaks with the previous modular construction of the Audemars-Piguet Calibre 3126/3840. And it also adds a more balance 3-6-9 display.
The 43mm wide case has been finely retouched to house the new movement, which is slightly larger in diameter. The case holds a newly designed set of pushers for the chronograph and has been refined to offer greater ergonomic comfort. It has larger polished chamfers, a slight curvature on the bezel, crown and pushers for a softer visual appeal. With the exception of the titanium versions, the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 43mm has a black ceramic bezel in order to provide a stark contrast, both in material and colour. The crown and pushers are also executed in ceramic.
Another part that has been updated with this new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 43mm is the dial. It is available in black, grey, taupe or blue and features a newly styled “Méga Tapisserie” pattern. The trademark squares are now interconnected with crosses and are finished differently compared to previous Offshore models – simply more detailed and more refined. Following the introduction of the new movement, the subdials for the chronograph function have been redesigned and repositioned. The date window has been pushed further to the edge of the dial, the hands have been retouched slightly, as is the logo, which now applied and only says AP – and not the full-length name of the brand.
The movement, as mentioned, is the Calibre 4401, first developed for Code 11.59 and now adopted into the Royal Oak line. The construction is integrated, so there’s no more base movement with a chronograph module on top of it. An integrated chronograph movement is a highly complex thing to develop, and it took Audemars Piguet a few years to get it done. The flyback function allows a restart without the need to first stop and reset the movement. Visible through the sapphire caseback, the 4401 movement features a blackened 22k gold rotor and of course ample details and finishing. It holds up to 70 hours of power and the watch is water-resistant to a depth of 100 meters.
New for the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 43mm is the interchangeable strap feature, with a quick-release system allowing for an easy change of style. Presented on rubber straps in black, blue, grey or brown, leather straps are available too.
Prices for these new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 43mm (ref. 26420SO in steel/ceramic, ref. 26420TI in titanium and ref 26420RO in gold/ceramic) are yet to be confirmed. This new collection will be available from September 2021. More information on audemarspiguet.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.