|Case||Stainless steel, pink gold, 42mm|
|Bezel||Rose gold with white gold screws|
|Dial||Blue Mega Tapisserie pattern, slate grey counters, Arabic numerals, pink gold Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating and blue inner bezel|
|Movement||Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding Calibre 3126/3840|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 100m / 328 ft|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 50 hours|
|Functions||Chronograph, hours, minutes, small seconds and date|
|Bracelet||Hand stitched black ‘Hornback’ crocodile strap with pink gold stitching and stainless steel AP folding clasp. Additional blue rubber strap.|
If the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak of 1972 was perceived as a risk, the commissioning of Emmanuel Guiet to create a modern take on that classic for its 20th anniversary was, at the time, perhaps even more so. Why try to change something that had been such a runaway success? In fact, when the Offshore’s design was finalised and presented at Baselworld, the designer of the original Royal Oak, Gerald Genta, was not backwards in giving his opinion, famously exclaiming “you killed my baby!”.
One can forgive him for such an outburst, particularly given the other haute horology legend he also created (amongst others), the Nautilus. However, that is not to say he was right. Audemars Piguet’s slogan is “Before you can break the rules, you must first master them” and this arguably applied precisely to their development of the Royal Oak Offshore 21 years after the Royal Oak; the latter was a watershed moment in the history of luxury steel sports watches. Audemars Piguet were the founding masters of that particular genre.
The Offshore was supposed to build on that success, to compliment it, and open the house to a new generation of owners. Starting at 42mm in diameter, the Offshore was large, even by today’s standards; imagine its wrist presence in the early nineties! Fashioned from stainless steel and on a bracelet, it was a ‘beast’ of a watch and that’s precisely the nickname it earned.
25 years later we have grown into the Offshore, and to love it. It still feels fresh, with the Offshore ‘Bucherer’ edition being no exception. Albeit what is exceptional about it is it’s the only two tone (stainless steel and pink gold) version of the Offshore in the range. A 300 limited production special edition in conjunction with the retailer Bucherer, it’s sold solely at their boutiques and, at the time of writing, had completely sold out.
At this juncture, I should state I am not normally a fan of two-tone watches. For some, the presence of precious metal in an otherwise all steel piece improves the versatility; it can be more things to more men, more of the time. In my view however, in most circumstances this seems to defeat the purpose of the watch. A steel sports watch is supposed to be rugged and able to weather the heaviest usage; a dress watch to be sleek, elegant, made from precious metal and, although more vulnerable to scratches, it matters less because it is used in less harsh environments and, perhaps, less often. A classic example of what I mean is the two-tone Rolex Submariner: whilst I acknowledge it as a beautiful watch, it feels like it’s caught between two stools and never really satisfies either purpose.
The Offshore Bucherer edition however is the first time I have been swayed. I suspect the fact it is on a strap and not a bracelet helps; it gives it a less chunky, less sporty, dressier look. Then it’s the way the pink gold bezel takes centre stage, along with matching strap connectors and applied hour markers and hands. Coupling all those factors with the finishing of the stainless steel and, to my eyes, it has the presence of an all precious metal watch without actually being so.
Then it’s the way the colours all play together. Pink gold, steel, black, blue, white, grey; it all sounds too much but it really works. To add to these, the crown and pushers are ceramic, lending a ruggedness to the touch points on the crown. Together this means it’s a tour de force of materials and every single one of them compliments the other.
As alluded to, the presence of a strap brings down not only the actual weight of the watch but also the visual weight and it’s very comfortable to wear, even for long periods. This can not always be said of other versions on bracelets, particularly in precious metal. To add to this, it was a nice touch that AP left their fantastic deployment clasp in situ. Whilst I would have preferred it in pink gold, it works very well in stainless steel and adds to the haute horology feel. That’s one criticism I have of other Offshores in the range – it might be perceived as sportier but a watch that expensive really should not be using a pin buckle.
The Offshore is, of course, not for everyone. Many will find it, at 42mm diameter, it too big. Some will agree with Genta’s comments and suggest his baby has been bastardised. Others will point to the fact that the chronograph movement is not fully integrated, it sitting on top of the movement, causing the depth of the date aperture, requiring a magnifying lens for it to be legible.
To my eyes however, Guiet’s design is a powerful statement in support of Genta’s original masterpiece and ably fulfilled Audemars Piguet’s strategy. The fact it has been such a success tends to support such a conclusion and, if the incredible 25th anniversary edition is anything to go by, the next generation of Offshores is going to be very exciting indeed.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Bucherer edition has an RRP of £27,100 but is now sold out. Prices on the secondary market range from £24,000 – £32,000.