The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph ref. 25721ST is an illustrious timepiece that debuted in 1993. The Offshore was meant to rejuvenate the Royal Oak and attract a new, younger audience. The watch was the brainchild of 22-year-old designer Emmanuel Gueit, who came up with a chunky creation that took elements of Gérald Genta’s original design and magnified them. The 42mm watch received the nickname “The Beast” and did what it was supposed to do. The “ROO” soon became the watch for race car drivers, power players, and jet-setters. Thirty years later, “The Beast” is back in black — black ceramic, that is. Audemars Piguet’s 2023 lineup also consists of a string of new Royal Oak models — including one in yellow gold with a turquoise dial and a boutique-only white gold “RO” with a blue grained dial — plus a selection of steel Code 11.59 watches with reworked dials.
Thirty years ago, the exuberant Royal Oak Offshore revitalized the Royal Oak and turned a new generation onto Audemars Piguet. It also became the watch of choice for affluent people (wannabe) motorsport stars who liked to flaunt their lifestyle of abundance. As in motorsport, however, dominance doesn’t last forever, so the “ROO” got overtaken by the lightweight creations of Richard Mille. In 2023, the ROO has a different role to play. The sportiest of all Royal Oak creations needs to distract people from desperately wanting and unsuccessfully hunting a classic Royal Oak. The introduction of “The Beast” in sinister-looking black might have quite a few heads turning since its relatively understated looks build a bridge between the two RO collections.
The 42 × 15.3mm Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph (26238CE.OO.1300CE.01) is one of only three current Royal Oak Offshore models with a Petite Tapisserie dial and the first with a black ceramic case and a matching bracelet. The watch’s monochromatic looks are both sober and sophisticated. “The Beast” in its 2023 guise has instrument-like qualities, but the detailing and finishing are luxurious to the max. Inside the case beats the 433-part caliber 4404, Audemars Piguet’s integrated, in-house chronograph movement with a flyback function and a 70-hour power reserve. The chronograph is operated by classic round pushers, a detail that harks back to the original from 1993. The audience that “AP” has in mind with this watch most likely won’t be shocked by the €84,000 price tag of “The Beast.” Are you?
The angular shape of the pushers and the Méga Tapisserie dial pattern are tell-tale signs of the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph (26420CE.OO.A127CR.01 / €60,000). This is a different “beast” in a 43mm black ceramic case with yellow gold details on the dial, push-piece guards, studs, and buckle. The case, which has the latest ergonomic design with large, polished chamfers on the edges and a slightly curved bezel, also has more gold details on the back. There, the precious metal frames a sapphire crystal that allows a view of the 381-part, 4Hz caliber 4401. This is AP’s latest chronograph movement, a self-winding, integrated caliber that features a column wheel and a flyback function.
No matter the “engine,” this black and gold ROO evokes thoughts of the famous John Player Special livery of historical Lotus F1 cars. Its intended buyers may not know of these cars that (g)raced the racetracks worldwide because they weren’t born back then, but the powerful color combination is timeless.
You were thinking it, but the 37 × 8.9mm Royal Oak Selfwinding (15550BA.OO.1356BA.01 / €61,200) in 18K yellow gold doesn’t have a Tiffany dial. Instead, it’s a natural turquoise dial that evokes dreams of a tropical sea. Turquoise is a rare stone that was already en vogue with ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilizations because of its illuminating beauty. And in combination with yellow gold, this new RO is like a bright, sunny day in Seychelles. The radiant turquoise dial is only 0.75mm thick, and because it’s cut from a natural stone found in Mexico, every dial is different. What they have in common though, besides their charismatic and desirable look, are applied hour markers and hands in yellow gold with a touch of glow-in-the-dark Super-LumiNova. Inside the case beats the latest automatic caliber 5900, displaying hours, minutes, seconds, and the date. This movement debuted in 2022 in certain 37mm references, and it combines a slim 3.9mm thickness with a 4Hz frequency and a 60-hour power reserve. The mechanism is visible through the sapphire case back, but my guess is that all eyes will be on the mesmerizing turquoise dial all the time.
The 2023 creation might be a year late to the 50th anniversary party of the RO, but because of its stunning looks this white gold “Jumbo” is forgiven — it’s just fashionably late. The fine grain plays with the light and the use of PVD creates the blue hue. After covering the dial with a translucent coating, the relief and sparkle of the dial evokes a clear night sky above Le Brassus. Ad the Super-LumiNova on the white gold hour markers and Royal Oak hands make sure you can still read the time during the dark nights in Le Brassus.
Inside the 39 × 8.1mm case of this noble limited edition beats the Calibre 7121, the latest ultra-thin movement that was introduced in January 2022 for the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak. This 4Hz movement took five years to come alive. And what is does is indicate the hours, minutes, seconds and date with a power reserve of 55 hours. The date features a patented, flat, energy-saving mechanism with a new rapid corrector.