Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph 42mm
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph 42mm is presented in an array of ‘funky’ colours. Angus Davies explains that forming an opinion about a watch purely based on a photograph is foolish. Indeed, trying on this iconic chronograph, delivered in a eye-popping shade of yellow, proved a seductive experience and caught Angus on his blind side.
This detailed review of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph 42mm includes live images, specification details and pricing.
Audemars Piguet has an uncanny knack of creating watches which creep up on my blind side and unexpectedly seduce me. The reason for my utter surprise is that often AP watches I have dismissed in photographs as not to my taste, covertly seduce me when I see them in the flesh and nonchalantly place them upon my wrist.
In 2012, Audemars Piguet celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak. At the time, I casually placed a 41mm Royal Oak in 18-carat pink gold with matching metal bracelet upon my wrist. I had previously only seen this watch in photographs and written it off. However, once I affixed the watch to my wrist I was smitten.
Periodically, I receive messages regarding buying a watch and I always say the same thing, ‘try on as many watches as possible and never form an opinion based on a picture’. Notwithstanding this advice, Audemars Piguet always seems to produce watches which don’t appeal when I see an image but grab me wholeheartedly when I put them on my wrist.
Now, the brand from Le Brassus has done it again. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph 42mm was unveiled at SIHH 2016 in a choice of four eye-popping colourways: blue, green, orange and yellow. It is the latter hue which ambushed me with its shockingly vivid colour scheme. Described by the maison as ‘funky’, a yellow watch does not immediately conform to my usual notion of luxury. However, when I placed the canary toned ROO Diver Chronograph upon my wrist I was immediately ravished by its vibrant looks.
The dial colour of the ROO Diver Chronograph can best be described as ‘a face slapping vibrant tone’. The hue has an almost visual pungency which could never be overlooked. However, despite the exuberant nature of the dial, it does nothing to detract from the objective of being read. White hands and markings ensure information is imparted with superb clarity. The combination of yellow, white and black works especially well, providing an abundance of eye appeal and superb ease of interpretation.
The small running seconds is delivered on a black subdial at 3 o’clock, while opposite a 30-minute chronograph register awaits its wearer’s command. A casual observer may wrongly assume that this is merely another ROO Chronograph, but the crown at 10 o’clock reveals that this is a wholly new model, a diver’s watch equipped with a stopwatch function. Unscrewing the crown at 10 o’clock allows the wearer to rotate the inner bezel, proving ideal for indicating dive times.
An aspect I especially like about the dial of this watch is the chapter ring with its crisp white markings. This chapter ring and the yellow tipped central chronograph seconds hand make determining elapsed seconds a very simple task. This is an incredibly user friendly dial.
Measuring 42mm in diameter, the ROO Diver Chronograph shares similar proportions to the iconic ROO Chronograph ‘Navy’ and ‘Safari’, two Audemars Piguet staples admired by legions of watch lovers. Audemars Piguet has stuck to what it knows works well. The black, cylindrical chronograph pushpieces found on the Navy and Safari make an appearance on this diver’s model. Likewise, the Navy’s crown and bezel, the latter featuring a blend of satin-brushed and highly polished surfaces, are also adopted on the ROO Diver Chronograph.
Audemars Piguet subscribes to the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ design philosophy which proves commercially much safer, especially when elsewhere they choose to gamble on ebullient dial colours. Furthermore, the similarities between each watch, no doubt, deliver useful economies of scale.
Where the case does vary from its non-diver siblings is with the fitment of the aforementioned crown at 10 o’clock. I am unsure whether this is merely a case of drilling the existing case or, alternatively, whether a new case has been designed, either way, the visual homogenity is retained and, in my opinion, it upholds the wonderful iconic shape of the original 1993 Royal Oak Offshore.
Wearing the ROO Diver Chronograph proves to be a very comfortable experience with the matching rubber strap pleasantly encircling the wrist. I particularly like the broad pin on the pin buckle which prevents annoying distortion of the strap holes.
Contrary to watchmaking convention with divers’ watches, this timepiece is equipped with an exhibition caseback, according a splendiferous view of the Calibre 3124 / 3841. I am glad AP has broken with horological tradition and allowed sight of the self-winding movement as I never tire of seeing a finely executed calibre.
The self-winding Calibre 3124 / 3841 chronograph movement is a ‘Manufacture’ movement of modular construction. Purists will bemoan the absence of a fully integrated movement with the hallowed column-wheel and vertical coupling. Nevertheless, in reality, the pushpieces operate with a pleasing action and there is no obvious wobbling when the central chronograph seconds hand is actuated.
Where this movement comes into its own is with a degree of finissage. This degree of craftsmanship is found on watches from only the finest practitioners of haute horlogerie and Audemars Piguet is one of the finest exemplars of high-end watchmaking. The 22-carat oscillating mass is engraved with the respective coat of arms for the Audemars (left) and Piguet (right) families. The bridges are adorned with circular Côtes de Genève motif and beautifully bevelled. Circular graining and snailing stand as further testament to the no-compromise execution of this movement.
The balance has a frequency of 21,600 vph (3 Hz) and features a mobile stud holder. The rim of the balance wheel is fitted with masselottes to influence the moment of intertia. This approach creates less turbulence than conventional screws as they are located in-board, hence ensuring greater precision.
Many companies have taken a successful product range, and the Royal Oak Offshore is incredibly successful, and extended it. However, the potential problem with continuing to extend a particular product range is that ultimately their appeal can snap, the cachet can be lost and the cash cow may run dry. Thankfully, Audemars Piguet, despite creating an array of ROO variants, has never lost the essence of what makes hordes of watch lovers covet their products. Will the advent of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph 42mm jeopardise the golden goose? I doubt it. This is a timepiece which upholds everything that is wonderful about Audemars Piguet, namely a gorgeously finished Manufacture movement and iconic design.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph 42mm and ROO Chronograph Navy differ in that the latter is equipped with a date display, hence it is powered by the similar but different, Manufacture Calibre 3126 / 3840. The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Diver does, however, offer the facility of an inner rotating bezel and dive time indication. Ultimately, whether you choose one model in preference to another may be due to its respective functions.
However, I would suggest that if you are considering a Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Diver you should set aside your prejudices, place the cheery coloured diver’s watch upon your wrist and allow yourself to be blindsided. Based on my experience, you will undoubtedly be seduced.
- Model: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph 42mm
- Reference: 26703ST.OO.A051CA.01
- Case: Stainless steel; dimensions 42mm; height 14.75mm; water resistant to 30 bar (300 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph.
- Movement: Calibre 3124 / 3841, self-winding movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3Hz); 59 jewels; power reserve 50 hours; 364 movement parts.
- Strap: Yellow rubber strap with steel pin buckle
- Price: £22,400 (RRP as at 24.11.2016)