Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon ChronographOctober 18, 2023 By mysun08481 Off
Putting aside the new Royal Oak Concept for a moment, I can’t help but think that Audemars Piguet might have just released the watch that will make me finally fall in love with the Offshore, three decades after its initial release.
As a lover of historical Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore designs, it’s taken me a long time to come around to the idea of the Offshore. The line of watches had its moment in the sun with a ton of hype in the early-aughts long before the “Jumbo” came back in vogue, but I never really understood why. Meanwhile the Concept, for whatever reason, was something that I could easily put in its own space. It’s a watch for experimentation – a cool and dramatic-looking hypercar that you might see in pictures only.
I could talk all day about AP’s vintage ultra-thin dress watches, the 13 ligne movements, or their ultra-thin perpetual calendars – not to mention the iconic design of the Royal Oak. All of these designs were about balance and harmony. But – and maybe I’m stretching to hope I have anything in common with the late, great Gérald Genta who famously accused the Offshore’s designer Emmanuel Gueit of ruining Genta’s work on the Royal Oak– the “Méga Tapisserie” dials and bulbous numerals make me feel like someone selected the dial in Microsoft Word and then changed the font to Comic Sans. Sure, the watch was made to stand out for the sake of standing out, but is that all it could be?
There have been flashes of brilliance – 2021’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Khaki was a personal favorite, as is the audacity to make a Grande Complication skeleton Offshore with a hilarious “don’t you dare take me into heavy rain” 20m water resistance for an Offshore – but nothing ever struck home for me. But it was a winning formula for AP, a blessing and a curse that has proven hard to break over the years. Part of growing up means knowing where you’ve come from and acknowledging your influences while realizing that you don’t have to be wildly weird to be special. The fingerprints of Audemars Piguet’s past and present are all over this new watch in a smart way, with just the right hint of what the Offshore has always been – a little (or a lot) quirky.
Sure, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph technically existed in the catalog, but no one ever said the first iteration of anything has to be the best.
The 2021 release of the same Calibre 2967 in a 43mm grade 5 titanium case unified the Code 11.59 and Offshore lineups based on movement. The design, on the other hand, felt far more like a Royal Oak Concept, with a three-dimensional open-worked architecture in lieu of a dial. The movement, gears, and one-minute tourbillon were all front and center, with the bridges that make up the dial adding even more depth and it was – in theory – a cool design. It was almost there.
But what it didn’t do, in my eyes, was tell me it was an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore. Once AP had taken away everything I thought I disliked about the Offshore, I realized that a lot of those things were what kept the watch from bordering on milquetoast, or as much as any mondo 43mm-by-15.5mm, intensely overengineered, otherwise iconic diver could ever be. Turns out all you need is a splash of color to bring the Offshore back to its quirky self and hit the sweet spot. The contrast of color between the new black ceramic case – an emerging icon in its own right and a callback of sorts to the ever-popular mainline Royal Oaks – and matching blackened PVD-coated titanium bridges with silver chamfers against the vivid green anodized aluminum insert and rose gold hands feels much bolder and Offshore-y than before. The titanium crown guards now contrast nicely against the ceramic pushers and screw-down crown. You get a touch of near-military-inspired coloration that borders on shouting “I’m tough” with a little more vibrancy that says “but actually I’m fun” and serves to celebrate all these other unifying factors by drawing your eye.