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Audemars Piguet - The Incredible Hunk

Audemars Piguet The Incredible Hunk

It used to be known as “the Beast”. The Royal Oak Offshore is the original man’s man timepiece

When it was launched in 1993, it was the largest and thickest watch available. Women didn’t even dare borrow it from their husbands like they did with other manly watches. This certainly did a lot for its fame, enabling the Royal Oak Offshore to retain its masculine status. Over time, its diameter has fluctuated between 42 and 48mm, and the 2021 makeover has settled on 42mm, which was the original size. But don’t let the figures fool you. This Royal Oak Offshore feels utterly familiar yet looks and feels very different on the wrist, and for good reason. Even though it retains its entire personality, it’s been thoroughly redesigned.

Sweeping Remodeling

Hands, dial, lugs, crown, case, caseback, finishings, bevels, straps, Audemars Piguet has revisited every single bit of the Royal Oak Offshore, down to, and most noticeably, its movement. Updating an iconic timepiece is a common pratice. Renewing its appeal and relevance keeps brands busy at regular intervals. But rarely has it been as deep and comprehensive as what Audemars Piguet has undertaken in 2021. A total of five models are offered as a first batch of the new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 43mm, but you can be sure there are a lot more to come.

The incredible hunk

Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 43mm © Audemars Piguet

Size that counts

Switching from 44 to 43mm doesn’t alter the face of the Royal Oak Offshore. Shaving one millimeter cannot achieve such a result. The changes are much deeper. The way the caseback sits on the wrist will feel more comfortable as the lugs allow for better ergonomics. The bezel is now slighly concave, as is the sapphire crystal. There is a palpable input from the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet here, as this reference has ushered in several new design rules at Audemars Piguet. Fitting on the wrist is also a matter of volumes and the way they’re stacked. In order to create a more harmonious curve, the bevels of the case are now wider, which creates a gentler slope as the watch elevates from the skin to its maximum altitude of 14.4mm.

The incredible hunk

Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 43mm © Audemars Piguet

Pattern and Palette 

The most noticeable changes are located on the dial. Audemars Piguet applies an updated version of its customary embossed pattern called Mega-Tapisserie, made of wide squares separated by deep grooves. The new Mega-Tapisserie is more modern and edgy than ever. The squares are now interlinked by their vertices, forming rows of discrete Xs. The usual gray, blue and black are available, and Audemars Piguet has even added a fantastic beige-gray version with a darker edge, reminiscent of a military khaki. The rubber straps match the dials’ main color. The novelty lies underneath, as they have become interchangeable. This means the operation of removing them and replacing them with, for example, the extra leather strap supplied with the watch, is easily completed without the use of a tool. It’s worth noticing that the buckle operates the same way, which is a rather rare feature.

For the fist time ever, the Royal Oak Offshore now has counters in 3,6,9 configuration. After decades of using the supposedly sportier 6,9,12 one, Audemars Piguet has finally decided to switch. To be exact, the chronograph counters are at 9 o’clock for the minutes and 3 o’clock for the hours. The small seconds are located at 6 o’clock. The underlying reason for this layout is the upgrade from the existing 3126 / 3840 calibre to the latest generation, in-house, automatic chronograph movement: the 4401.

Inner Upgrade

First introduced in 2019 along with the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection, this is a brand new caliber with a 70-hour power reserve, column wheel, flyback chronograph and integrated design. The latter is an interesting feature because Audemars Piguet had thus far remained a commited supporter of chronograph modules. But as an upgrade made itself needed, the Manufacture decided to go with the most current architecture. The vertical clutch makes operations more precise, a must when it comes to a flyback chronograph. The finishings on the movement are applied according to Audemars Piguet’s exacting standards, all the way up to the oscillating weight. Made of solid 22K pink gold, skeletonized to maximize the weight to winding power ratio, it rotates on ceramics ball bearings.

The incredible hunk

Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Flying TourbillonChronograph © Audemars Piguet

Better Feature

Three final details are worth mentioning. As the movement is integrated, the date disk lies just underneath the dial, rendering the need for a loupe obsolete. For the first time, the Royal Oak Offshore has a smooth crystal. Secondly, the tachymeter scale, which used to run up to 600 is now gratuated to 500 units per hour. And finally, the “Audemars Piguet” signature on the dial is out. Instead, the brand is going for a logo-only applied marker: AP.

Even Hunkier

Along the Royal Oak Offshore, there is an even more complex, more complicated and more exclusive chronograph within Audemars Piguet’s latest catalog issue. It is the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph. The name sums it all up, except that it’s also been comprehensively redone. The movement remains the same, a brand classic featuring an integrated architecture, column wheel, oneminute tourbillon and the smoothest pushers. But mostly, its finishes are pushed to an incredible level, with haute horlogerie details galore, applied with extreme care and skill.

Deep View

In lieu of a full dial, this complicated mechanism has been designed and openworked to give selective vantage points on the movement. Openings with wide and deep angular flank create the impression of a hypercar’s front end. Hands and markers are painted red on an overall black and gray colorway. Titanium for the whole case, gold for the hands, mirror-polished steel for the tourbillon and black PVD for the 22K gold rotor in the back, this 100-piece limited edition is also signed AP. Period.

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Audemars Piguet is one of the few independent family-owned watch businesses and has been based in Le Brassus, in Switzerland's Vallée de Joux region, at the heart of the fine watchmaking industry, ever since the company was first established in 1875.

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