The bold and audacious Royal Oak Offshore is officially grown up, and Audemars Piguet (AP) celebrates its 30th anniversary with a homage to one of its most iconic models.
The AP Royal Oak Offshore caused quite a stir when it debuted in 1993. Back then, watches were much smaller; the Royal Oak itself was still considered avant-garde. This supersized version was so polarizing that even Gerald Genta, the designer behind the original Royal Oak, was aghast, comparing it to a mammoth sea creature.
It was dubbed “The Beast” for its oversized proportions and contrasting rubber gasket. It measured 42mm by 14.05mm, which might seem like a standard size today, but turned heads at the time. The watch had a chronograph, the classic sports complication, and was water-resistant to 100m. Achieving this level of water resistance with a chronograph is difficult and actually delayed the release by a year.
Image: Audemars Piguet
The watch was designed to be a sports watch for even the most extreme sports, taking its name, “Offshore” from high-speed offshore powerboat races. “The idea behind the Royal Oak Offshore was to create a trend-setting watch for the 1990s, inspired by offshore powerboat racing that would be aimed at a younger generation,” says Raphaël Balestra, Audemars Piguet’s Manager Heritage & Archives. “The scandal it caused at the time of its release matched its excessiveness.”
It took several years for the watch to achieve acceptance globally, and Arnold Schwarzenegger put it on the map in 1999 when he featured a limited-edition Offshore in End of Days and hosted a charity auction of the watch.
Over time, the Royal Oak Offshore became a calling card for athletes, hip-hop artists, and movie stars, gracing the wrists of everyone from Serena Williams and LeBron James to Jay-Z. In 2005, Audemars Piguet created a special edition with Jay-Z to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his career. (Notably, this was the first-ever collaboration between a luxury Swiss watch brand and the hip-hop community.) “In spite of its difficult beginning, the Offshore was a huge success and extremely popular during the 2000s,” says Balestra.
Image: Audemars Piguet
Today, the Royal Oak Offshore is a cornerstone of Audemars Piguet’s sports watches, great for diving, racing, and extreme sports. But, the Swiss manufacturer also produces a range of styles, from smaller time-only watches to high complications, even crafting platinum models that weigh a staggering 429 grams.
To fête the anniversary, Audemars Piguet has released several new models. A sleek all-black ceramic model shows the more subdued side of the watch, while a black-ceramic version with pops of lime green is sure to turn heads.
The star of the show is the new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph, which echoes the End of Days limited-edition watch. It is crafted from black ceramic with touches of yellow on the indexes, hands, tachymeter scale, and stitching. It measures 43mm, 1mm larger than the original, a testament to the changing tastes in watch sizes. The Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph is priced at $60,300 and is limited to 500 pieces worldwide.