Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition
Angus Davies reviews the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition reference 26237ST.OO.1000ST.01
This detailed review of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition includes live pictures, specification details and pricing.
Each year, journalists and retailers make the annual pilgrimage to SIHH, Geneva. A few months later, the same watch-obsessed professionals visit Baselworld. The numerous exhibition stands prove very impressive. They are often littered with celebrities and festooned with cars, motorbikes and an array of other paraphernalia. The raison d’être for this dazzling razzmatazz is the showcasing of ‘novelties’, a term used by the watch industry to describe new models.
Watch brands need to innovate in order to engage with new audiences that have previously slipped through the net. Furthermore, they also wish to sate the desires of their existing clientele. These new products may well incorporate innovative materials or embrace an alternative design language, conversely, they may appear little different from existing models. One thing is clear, the desire for market share encourages innovation.
Personally, I crave new watches, they provide the inspiration for new articles. Furthermore, I can see the merit in using cutting-edge materials such as silicon or forged carbon. The watch industry should not be fearful of technological advancement where it confers benefits to its prospective customers.
The problem with adding new references to a brand’s product portfolio is that often older models are delisted. Sometimes, wonderful gems are cast aside for a new wave of young upstarts. I was reminded of this when I recently saw the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition reference 26237ST.OO.1000ST.01. Its looks capture the allure of the first Royal Oak Offshore, released in 1993, and show the wisdom of looking to the past and reintroducing a former great.
I still remember the original watch the reference 25721ST.OO.1000ST.01. At the time of its launch, this inaugural version of the Royal Oak Offshore was beyond my financial grasp. I loved its boldness and overt masculinity. It was the watch that got away.
The brand from Le Brassus has looked to its past, adopted the design language of the 1993 model but incorporated a modern self-winding calibre. There are no discernible differences between the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition and the 1993 original.
The blue dial is adorned with the same ‘Petite Tapisserie’ pattern as the 1993 original. Tapestry motifs first appeared on the original Royal Oak in 1972 and they continue to proffer an abundance of eye-appeal. The influence of the Royal Oak extends to the shape of the aptly named ‘Royal Oak hands’. The white gold, lozenge-shaped hour and minute hands are lined with luminescent material. Despite the tip of each hand being rounded and blunt, the proclamation of time is excellent.
Each luminous white gold index echoes the profile of the Royal Oak hands. The perimeter of each index is highly polished. Three registers populate the dial, a 12-hour chronograph register, a 30-minute chronograph register and a small seconds display.
A date display sits adjacent the crown. The date disc sits deep within the case, much lower than the dial epidermis, a visual reminder that this model is equipped with a modular movement. The date is simple to read, courtesy of a magnified lens above. The company nomenclature and logo are positioned next to the date and, together with the date display, provide visual balance with the 30-minute chronograph register located at 9 o’clock.
Encircling the dial epidermis is a chapter ring. Each crisp white stroke denotes a ⅓ of a second integer. This interval is consistent with the frequency of the movement (3Hz) and perfectly illustrates the maison’s attention to detail.
The inner flange is marked with a tachymeter scale, allowing the wearer to determine the speed of an object over a known distance.
In 1993, when the Royal Oak Offshore was originally launched, its 42mm case was considered to be very large. Indeed, this timepiece was one of the biggest watches on the market at the time. Today, the size of the case is considered comparatively modest. The beauty of the 42mm case is that it should appeal to legions of men seeking a stylish sports watch. Moreover, the integrated bracelet avoids any significant protrusion from the watch head, guiding the bracelet downwards and readily encircling the wrist.
The stainless steel case is incredibly complex, surpassing the perfunctory with its beautiful detailing. The octagonal bezel features eight, six-sided screws, each resplendently shining. The upper surface of the bezel is satin-brushed, while the adjacent bevelled edge is highly polished, evincing a contrasting, gleaming appearance. This blend of alternative finishes proves very difficult to realise but the outcome is sublime. The highly polished bevelled edges can also be found on the case-band, crown-protector and bracelet.
The case integrates with the bracelet using four sturdy vertical links, two positioned either side of the watch head. These vertical links straddle the horizontal sections of the bracelet. An AP folding clasp provides a steadfast means of securing the watch to the wearer’s wrist. Everything looks robust, designed for a lifetime of faithful service.
It is always interesting when a watch company chooses to employ new materials. The rubber-clad pushpieces have always differentiated this chronograph from its forebears and its competitors. The non-slip characteristics of the rubber prove helpful and confer a unique tactility. The screw-locked crown is also endowed with a rubber grip, but features a stainless steel facade. The Audemars Piguet logo adorns the vertical plane of the crown which in turn nestles safely between two steel protectors, mitigating the risk of any impacts harming the winding shaft.
I have always had a preference for exhibition case-backs. My rationale for this horological fetishism is that, in my opinion, the beauty of a movement should be shared with the wearer, especially when the timepiece is a paragon of fine watchmaking. However, with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition the watch is fitted with a solid case-back. On this occasion, I can set aside my predilection for exhibition case-backs, accepting Audemars Piguet’s decision to respect tradition and uphold the design of the 1993 original.
The case-back is engraved with the Offshore logo at its centre, the word, ‘Automatic’ in capital letters and the serial number of the watch. The steel case-back is retained with eight spherical screws.
While the 1993 original was fitted with the Calibre 2126/2840, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition is equipped with the Calibre 3126/3840. Although this is a modular chronograph and purists often covet fully-integrated chronographs, the excellence of this movement should not be overlooked.
Firstly, the finissage is exemplary with perlage adorning both sides of the mainplate. The bridges are embellished with Côtes de Genève motif and the jewel and screw sinks are highly polished with the screws featuring chamfered slots. Peerless anglage is omnipresent with gleaming bevels standing testament to the no-comprise craftsmanship practised by this historical firm.
Secondly, the movement possesses various technical attributes, including a monobloc oscillating weight in 22-carat gold and a screwed mobile stud holder. The balance bridge is affixed at two points, conferring greater stability. The rim of the balance wheel is fitted with masselottes or variable inertia blocks, which allow the watchmaker to adjust the rate of the timepiece. By locating the masselottes in-board there is less disruption to the airflow, enhancing precision of this watch.
The Calibre 3126/3840 has a frequency of 21,600 VpH (3Hz) and contains 365 parts, of which 59 are jewels. The power reserve is capable of providing 50 hours of autonomy.
Auction houses selling watches have grown in popularity. Numerous column inches are now devoted to the sale of watches in Geneva or New York. An increasing number of horophiles crave watches of yesteryear. There are many reasons for booming sales of pre-owned watches, but perhaps one of the key reasons is a thirst for watches which are no longer made, cast aside in order to make way for new models.
While I have no desire to see watch companies reduce the annual quotient of novelties, it would be a shame to overlook some of the greatest timepieces ever produced. The 1993 original was such a watch and its legendary status as a sports watch is justly deserved. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition encapsulates the numerous attributes of the first Royal Oak Offshore.
The blue Petite Tapisserie dial, the white gold Royal Oak hands, the deep-set date display, the octagonal bezel and the rubber-clad pushpieces are all design elements which made the original 1993 ‘ROO’ (AP speak for the Royal Oak Offshore) special. The iconic watch has morphed into numerous versions, said to be in excess of 120 references. Some versions have led to an interesting lexicon, the ‘Bumblebee’, the ‘Panda’ and the ‘Pounder’. These are not the monikers conjured up by the Marketing Department of AP, but the fond terms conceived by legions of watch lovers.
Despite the design of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition being 25 years old, it remains modern and applicable to the present day. Its facial features are devoid of wrinkles and its torso still looks honed. Nothing has sullied the allure of the 1993 original.
Although hidden from view, the Calibre 3126/3840 is exquisitely appointed. Adroit hands painstakingly finish numerous movement components without any concessions to expedience. The modernity of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition does not set aside the maison’s traditional watchmaking craft. This is a company which was founded in 1875 and is now regarded as one of the finest exponents of haute horlogerie.
This watch upholds the notion of luxury, blending eye-catching aesthetics, shrewdly chosen components and peerless craftsmanship. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition shows that while every brand should look forward, conceiving new and exciting ideas, it should never overlook its past or fail to recognise the achievements which have punctuated its history.
- Model: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2018 Re-Edition
- Reference 26237ST.OO.1000ST.01
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42mm, sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback; water resistant to 10 ATM (100 metres).
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph
- Movement: Calibre 3126/3840; Self-winding movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 59 jewels; power reserve 50 hours.
- Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with AP folding clasp
- Price: £23,300 inc. VAT (RRP as at 26.7.2018)