In 1971, Gérald Genta sketched the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, arguably one of the most iconic sports watches of all time. The following year (1972) the steel luxury watch was unveiled at the Basel fair. It is said the name was inspired by firstly, a large oak tree that had provided King Charles II with a place of sanctuary when he hid from Oliver Cromwell’s army after the battle of Worcester (1651). Secondly, a number of British warships from 1769 to 1914 were named ‘The Royal Oak’. The second of these ships had an oak hull lined with steel. Moreover, its portholes were octagonal shaped, consistent with the model’s 8-sided bezel. On reflection, this all sounds extraordinarily convoluted, but the name has since become part of horological parlance and readily rolls off every horophile’s tongue.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2020

The inaugural model set in place various design codes which have endured to this day with little or no modification. These include the tapisserie dial, Royal Oak hands, and indices, the octagonal bezel, fitted with eight decorative screws, and the model’s distinctive bracelet. The initial model had two hands and a date display but, over the years, numerous complications have been added to the collection. The legendary blue dial of the first model remains a staple for the brand, however, additional dial hues have since been released, along with cases made of various materials.

Emmanuel Gueit, another accomplished designer working for Audemars Piguet at the time, conceived an evolution of the Royal Oak, the Royal Oak Offshore. This model, released in 1993 at Baselworld, shared a likeness with the Royal Oak but at the same time looked different. Where the Royal Oak had a slightly ‘dressy’ aesthetic, the Royal Oak Offshore was overtly sporty, perfectly suiting casual attire.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2020

The Offshore broke the rules not only in terms of its shape but also in terms of its size, measuring 42mm, considered large for the time. While the bezel featured the Royal Oak’s octagonal bezel with its distinctive eight screws, the gasket between the bezel and the case was oversized and made intentionally visible. The tapisserie dial motif seen on the Royal Oak was presented in a larger format. The chronograph pushers and crown were shrouded in silicon. Furthermore, the crown is nestled between the shoulders of a crown protector. The movement was placed within an anti-magnetic cage, reinforcing the model’s action-hero character.

Like many journalists, I often use the words, ‘iconic’ or ‘legendary’ more than I should, however, in terms of the Royal Oak and its younger sibling, the Royal Oak Offshore, such words are justified. Often watch brands yearn for an iconic model in their portfolio, unusually AP has two. Both the Royal Oak and the Royal Oak Offshore have proved hugely popular. Audemars Piguet, mindful of each model’s success has never ceased creating new versions of the RO and ROO, seducing watch fans with new colors, materials, and complications. Now, the esteemed brand from the Vallée de Joux has created three new versions of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2020, each endowed with smoked ‘Mega Tapisserie’ dials, ceramic cases, and contrasting bezels and pushpieces.

The brand’s press release

Audemars Piguet now offers its Royal Oak Offshore collection with a choice of smoked blue, green or grey dials, each incorporating the Manufacture’s “Mega Tapisserie” pattern and new Arabic numerals which supplant the customarily applied hour-markers.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2020

Both the blue and green dial options feature a 44 mm ceramic case with a matching ceramic bezel, push-pieces, and screw-locked crown. The push-piece guards are executed in titanium.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 2020

The third version features a smoked grey dial combined with an 18-carat pink gold bezel and push-piece guards. The case, push-pieces, and screw-locked crown are made of black ceramic.

Housed within each model’s contemporary case is the Manufacture Calibre 3126/3840, harnessing traditional craftsmanship and watchmaking expertise. This self-winding movement is comprised of 365 components and will run autonomously for at least 50 hours.

The new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph is presented on a color co-ordinated textured rubber strap, ideally suited to an active lifestyle.

These latest models will be sold exclusively in Audemars Piguet’s boutiques throughout the world.

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