Audemars Piguet has given its iconic Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph a makeover that updates and refines the macho model, while expanding its sporty lineup with a new 43 mm case.
Debuting this fall, the quintet of chronos (in lightweight titanium, luxe pink gold and rugged stainless steel) is powered by a new in-house movement. They are also outfitted with revamped cases and dials — the first major redesign of Offshore since the evolution of the 44 mm collection in the early 2000s. A quick click-and-release interchangeable strap system lets you change up the look on a whim, enhancing the Offshore with a fashionable new facet.
Originally conceived as a 20th anniversary Royal Oak, the Royal Oak Offshore stunned the watch world in 1993 with its massive proportions and heft, earning it the nickname the Beast. At the time, 42 mm was extremely large for a wristwatch, and the Offshore paved the way for the XXL trend that later overtook the industry.
Built for action, the Offshore has attracted an array of boldface admirers over the years, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay-Z, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Meek Mill, Anthony Anderson, Don Cheadle, Luke Bryan and Ed Sheeran.
Over the past three decades, the Offshore has also undergone a number of iterations, growing to as large as 45 mm for a high-complication chronograph with tourbillon and scaling back to 37 mm for more feminine designs, with the bulk of the collection divided between 42 mm and 44 mm sizes. At 43 mm, these new chronographs take a Goldilocks approach, hitting the sweet spot in the middle.
“Since we’ve been working on these new designs, one word that always came up was ergonomics,” said Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias, during the collection’s livestreamed unveiling in March, noting the goal was to have an Offshore that would fit comfortably on any size wrist.
“The new 43 mm case isn’t an augmentation of what happened before, it really is something new and different,” added Michael Friedman, AP’s head of complications. “Yes, it echoes the aesthetics of the Royal Oak Offshore, but it brings in something a little different: There is some curvature to the elements, and there is an incredible amount of refinement to it. In terms of ergonomics, the watch is designed to sit on your wrist absolutely beautifully. The pushers are different, the lines are different, the edges are different.”
Royal Oak Offshore enthusiasts will notice the dials look different, too, with repositioned chronograph counters — minutes at 9 o’clock, hours at 3 o’clock and small seconds at 6 o’clock. The date window has also been moved closer to the inner bezel, between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Even Royal Oak’s signature grid-like “Méga Tapisserie” pattern has an enhanced 3D look in shades of black, gray, light brown or blue. Compared to previous models, the raised square shapes are more defined, with deeper grooves and a raised crisscross element linking them together, adding depth. A satin finish echoes the new case codes, while a streamlined applied AP logo replaces the full Audemars Piguet signature.
What’s under those dials is even more enticing: the in-house automatic Caliber 4401 integrated flyback chronograph movement, which was first introduced in the Code 11.59 range. The term “flyback” means you can restart the timing function on the fly, without stopping and resetting to zero. The mechanism’s vertical clutch system prevents hands from jumping when the chronograph is started or stopped, and a patented zero-resetting mechanism ensures the counter hands instantly snap back to zero when reset.
To top it off, a new sapphire crystal case back offers a window on the inner workings of these bold chronographs — a peek at the beauty hiding within the beast