Audemars Piguet is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the iconic watch, with a re-edition of the original Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph and a brand new Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph.
In 1972, Swiss watch designer Gerald Genta, who had made a name for himself in the watchmaking world, was asked by Audemars Piguet to design a sports watch that would be nothing like anything the world had seen. Taking inspiration from helmets worn by divers, Genta produced an octagonal steel watch, held together with eight prominent hexagonal gold screws with a visible water resistant gasket, and a dial featuring blue petit tapiesserie motif.
At a time when men wore relatively small watches, the new watch, at 39mm, was viewed as a big watch, but with a thickness of 7mm, it was seen as surprisingly thin. It was named Royal Oak, after the historical English tree that saved the life of King Charles II when he was fleeing Cromwell’s army. The watch was unveiled at Baselworld in 1972, and would go on to become one of the most iconic men’s watches of all time.
Two decades later, Audemars Piguet created an even bigger watch, with a 42mm case (then considered to be oversized for something worn on the wrist), with what was described as a ‘deconstructed’ look. This timepiece was considered unconventional and innovative during that time, when it burst upon the traditionally conservative luxury watch scene.
Named Royal Oak Offshore, it featured crowns and pushers made from silicone, and a blue dial similar to the existing Royal Oak, but with a much larger tapisserie guilloche pattern. When launched at Baselworld in 1993, people were taken aback by its size and nicknamed it “The Beast”. Like its predecessor, the watch went on to become one of the best known Audemars Piguet creations, with more than 120 versions being made over the years, including in materials like titanium, gold and platinum.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore, and Audemars Piguet is celebrating in style. It is launching a re-edition of the original Royal Oak Offshore, and a new special series available in either stainless steel or 18-carat pink gold, each one limited to 50 pieces. These two models are inspired by the previous Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph, with an entirely redesigned movement, developed exclusively for the occasion. Featuring a combination of materials that is often seen on Royal Oak Offshore models, the crown and push pieces are now crafted in ceramic instead of metal and rubber. It will also feature a brand new dial, constructed as a true piece of contemporary architecture.