Why The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Grande Complication Is Disruptive
The year 2013 was a stellar moment for the rare grand complication, as the SIHH quickly demonstrated. Not only did A. Lange & Söhne present its oeuvre, but to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the sporty, contemporary Royal Oak Offshore, Audemars Piguet also introduced one of these complex masterpieces.
This automatic timepiece includes three of the traditional complications that a watch earning the right to this title should include: minute repeater, perpetual calendar, and (split-seconds) chronograph. The latter, in fact, has most unusually been included as a rattrapante in all of the brand’s grand complications since 1882. Though throughout its long history Audemars Piguet has focused on the traditional side of horology; the advent of the evergreen Royal Oak – the first luxury sports watch – in 1972 added a distinctly sporty side to this manufacture’s classic offerings.
As Audemars Piguet had celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the first Royal Oak model in 2012 with a number of interesting re-issues and updated classic models, two large “celebrations” two years in a row to also honor the twentieth anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore would have been too much (but I’m sure what happens in 2018 on the 25th anniversary of this model will be spectacular).
Royal Oak Offshore
The Royal Oak Offshore came along in 1993, the voluminous result of a move into a more contemporary feel for watchmaking. Designed by Emmanuel Gueit based on Gérald Genta’s original Royal Oak concept, the chunky 42 mm Offshore was an instant hit, aiding in propelling a new feel for larger case sizes in high watchmaking.
In 2013, Audemars Piguet decided to “quietly” demonstrate the importance it places on this modernized version of its evergreen by introducing the Royal Oak Offshore Grande Complication, which traditionalists may view as shocking, or at the very least disruptive. The reason? Despite its very traditional functions, the visuals of the Royal Oak Offshore Grande Complication are ultra-modern, housed as it is in the sporty case that made the original Offshore so disruptive (and trendsetting), even upping the ante by making the case in the last word in hardiness: titanium and ceramic.
Interesting to note, also, is the highly modern style of finishing that unusually includes sandblasting, which increases the focus on the meticulous beveling and polishing of the skeletonized components. Through the transparent case back, the solid gold rotor decorated with an anthracite-colored PVD coating is visible right alongside the hammers of the minute repeater (which is mirror-polished and whose interior and exterior angles are beveled), enhancing the contemporary feel.
Another important point of this timepiece that I would like to especially point out is that the Royal Oak Offshore Grande Complication is eminently wearable at “just” 44 mm in diameter. Whether the proud new owner is likely to wear it or not is a matter of personal choice. The fact that it is more than wearable endears it to me. Strictly limited to three examples each at close to $740,000, each one will take just about half a year (an estimated 820 man-hours) to complete.
Case: 44 mm titanium or rose gold with ceramic bezel, crown and buttons
Movement: automatic Caliber 2885 beating at 19,800 vph
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds; minute repeater; split-seconds chronograph; perpetual calendar with moon phase