30th anniversary of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore: Celebrity Collaborations
In this fourth article commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore (following: 4 New 2023 Releases, Here Come ‘The Beasts’, and ROO F1s, High Octane Fairy Tales of Super Star Racing Drivers), here is the topic that initially interested me the most, i.e. the annals of the Royal Oak Offshore limited and special editions.
There are a lot of them and it’s impossible to cover them all at once.
As Kozma Prutkov, a mystical figure of 19th-century Russian literature, wrote, “No one will embrace immensity.” Guided by his words, I have gathered all the information available to me and organized all ROO releases by topic. I’ll start with the celebrity editions as everything always seems to start with them.
I hope Formula 1 fans will forgive me – that is a separate topic, although I classify all Formula 1 drivers as celebrities. But once again, in the priceless words of Kozma Prutkov: “No one will embrace immensity.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore collection. Over the years, many references have come on the market that are interesting both in their own right and from a collector’s point of view. The collector’s eye becomes all the more attentive because, in recent years, the number of thematic editions has dramatically decreased, including the one I have chosen as a theme this time – Celebrity Collaborations.
Royal Oak Offshore ‘End of Days’
Opening the celebrity theme was the 1999 Royal Oak Offshore ‘End of Days’ Ref. 25770SN.OO.0001KE.01, which was also the very first limited edition of the Royal Oak Offshore collection and the first serial-produced Audemars Piguet watch with black PVD coating.
Legend has it that this watch was designed at the request of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been a partner of the brand since 1998. Schwarzenegger wanted to appear with an imposing watch in the action movie End of Days, for which four Offshore Ref. 25770SN.OO.0001.AR.01 were made, and which Arnold Schwarzenegger wore during the filming of the movie.
In addition, another unique Ref. 25770SN.OO.0050.AR.01 was made with a yellow aramid fiber strap instead of the black one. The launch of the Royal Oak Offshore End of Days limited edition coincided with the release of the movie, so there were no problems with the sale of a fairly large limited edition of 500 pieces.
Now this watch has the status of a collector’s item. Especially watches that have preserved the good condition of the original black PVD coating, which begins to wear away on the edges of the case with prolonged use of the watch.
The watch featured a strap made of aramid fibers (Kevlar), the caseback was solid and blackened with an engraved inscription “Serie Limitee” and a standard engraving “Royal Oak Offshore”. Audemars Piguet obviously remembers the success and importance of the Offshore End of Days when it comes to the Offshore collection as highlighted by the 2023 release of the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph Ref. 26420CE.OO.A005VE.01, the Offshore ‘End of Days’ commemorative edition. This edition is limited again to 500 pieces.
The hype around the second ‘Schwarzenegger’ watch – the famous Royal Oak Offshore T3 model – was no less when another action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger came out. The 2003 film Terminator 3 proved to be far less impressive than the previous Terminator 2, which is more than can be said for this watch.
The Royal Oak Offshore T3 is one of the coolest Offshores in the entire 30-year history of the collection, and it’s also the largest. Unusual protective parts on the crown and chronograph pushers, reminiscent of protective caps for the launch buttons of missile weapons, give the watch a unique character, which is further emphasized by the brutal 48-mm case made of brushed titanium.
A full polish would not suit such a watch, so large brushed surfaces are set off by polished bevels along the perimeter of the branded octagonal bezel and on the sides of the case. Imitators of the new design were immediately found among other watch brands, but no one managed to execute the idea succinctly and convincingly enough to somehow come close to the Royal Oak Offshore T3.
For some, however, the T3 was not convincing enough in comparison to the black Offshore ‘End of Days’, so unofficially DLC-coated, blackened Royal Oak Offshore T3 watches sometimes appear on the secondary market. The caseback of the Royal Oak Offshore T3 is better thought out than the previous ‘Schwarzenegger’ watch: instead of the essentially informative inscription on “End of Days”, the solid titanium case of the Royal Oak Offshore T3 is adorned with an imposing emblem from the movie – the abbreviation “T3”.
Ten years after the premiere of ‘Terminator 3’ and the Royal Oak Offshore T3, Audemars Piguet decided to continue the successful design and used it in the release of the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph jewelry versions in white gold with diamonds, offered with an alligator strap – Ref. 26215BC.ZZ.A101CR.01, or with diamond-set gold bracelet – Ref. 26215BC.ZZ.1239BC.01.
The watch has kept its size of 48 mm, which makes it quite heavy, especially in the bracelet version.
In 2015, a similar model with a diamond-set rose gold case was added to the collection, either with a strap (Ref. 26215OR.ZZ.A801CR.01) or with a bracelet (Ref. 26215OR.ZZ.1239OR.01). Since the agreement with the film producers has long expired, the solid caseback of all jewelry models is in the standard design of the collection is only with the engraved inscription “Royal Oak Offshore” without the “T3” emblem.
Royal Oak Offshore ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’
In 2003, another Offshore was issued in honor of Arnold Schwarzenegger, this time in yellow gold. The Royal Oak Offshore ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’ Ref. 26007BA.OO.D088CR.01 is a special status, as politics interfered in the making of the watch.
The Offshore with a chocolate-colored ‘mega tapisserie’ dial, gold-colored counters, large luminous Arabic numerals, and a brown alligator leather strap was made by Audemars Piguet just before Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California.
After the election, Schwarzenegger announced that he would cancel all advertising contracts, including the one with Audemars Piguet. Nevertheless, this watch was released, but there is nothing on the front about who it is dedicated to, only the engraved signature of the newly elected governor appears on the solid gold caseback.
At the time, there was a feeling that this model might be the last watch made in collaboration with the ‘Terminator’, but the line of ‘Schwarzenegger’ watches continued after a solution acceptable to both parties was found.
Royal Oak Offshore ‘Arnold’s All-Stars’ Chronograph
The solution, in keeping with the spirit of the times, was charity. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as an elected official, could not be an advertising ambassador for a commercial enterprise. But as the founder of the After-School All-Stars Charitable Foundation, which promotes an extended school day in the United States and that Arnold Schwarzenegger launched in 2002, he could be a partner with Audemars Piguet in philanthropic projects.
One such project was the release of the special edition Royal Oak Offshore ‘Arnold’s All-Stars’ Chronograph Ref. 26158OR.OO.A801CR.01, with red gold case, brown dial and brown alligator strap.
The engraved After-School All-Stars emblem on the solid gold caseback is complemented by matching design accents including brushed Arabic numerals on the dial.
Brushed hour markers will appear again and again on the special editions of the Royal Oak Offshore, and each time this choice is appropriate.
Royal Oak Offshore ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger The Legacy’ Chronograph
The brushed hour markers are a great addition to the 2011 Royal Oak Offshore Arnold ‘Schwarzenegger The Legacy’ Chronograph Ref. 26378IO.OO.A001KE.01. As with the other ceramic models in the collection, the originality of this ceramic Offshore lies in the high-quality finish of the ceramic parts.
Here, Audemars Piguet takes the same approach to watch finishing as it once did to the 1972 stainless steel Royal Oaks, which were made with greater care than most prestigious gold watches of the time.
The overall look is completed by the engraved name of the model on the solid titanium caseback of the watch, which is also brushed.
The Offshores released by Audemars Piguet in collaboration with Arnold Schwarzenegger, had an interesting feature: if you only look at the watch from the front without glancing at the back, there are no design elements that suggest a connection between the watch and him. This rule doesn’t apply to almost all the other ‘celebrity Offshores’, where the celebrities wanted to be noted on the dial. The A personalized caseback didn’t seem to be enough for them.
Royal Oak Offshore ‘Jay-Z 10th Anniversary’
It all started in 2005 with Sean-Corey Carter, known by the nickname Jay-Z or Jay Z, an American rapper and one of the richest in show business (according to Forbes, his fortune was over $900 million in 2018).
In 2005, Jay-Z celebrated the tenth anniversary of his career with the release of a series of three special models of Royal Oak Offshore ‘Jay-Z 10th Anniversary’. The edition was designed entirely in the spirit of the rapper: The number ‘10’ on the dial’s hour scale is set with diamonds so the Jay-Z Offshores are easily recognizable by this ‘diamond ten’.
They are also distinguished from almost all other models in this collection by the flat dial, which is not decorated with the tapisserie relief ornament characteristic of the Royal Oak Offshore – Offshores with flat dials are very rarely produced. A total of 100 pieces of the Royal Oak Offshore ‘Jay-Z 10th Anniversary’ were produced in three versions – in stainless steel (Ref. 26055ST.OO.D001CR.01), in rose gold (Ref. 26055OR.OO.D001CR.01) and in platinum (Ref. 26055PT.OO.D001IN.01).
Another interesting feature of the Royal Oak Offshore Jay-Z 10th Anniversary is that this watch was offered with an iPod, on which the rapper’s songs were downloaded. It should also be mentioned that all versions received the caseback with an engraved signature of the rapper.
Royal Oak Offshore ‘Shaquille O’Neal’
The numerology on Offshore dials continued in 2007 with watches made in collaboration with famous American basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. The Royal Oak Offshore ‘Shaquille O’Neal’ Chronograph (96 pieces in white gold and 960 pieces in stainless steel) has a dial with reversed positions of the 2 and 3.
Such a design trick has not been used before in Audemars Piguet watches. Both numerals were in red (on the white gold model, they were set with rubies), which was meant to serve as a completely transparent allusion to the number 32 under which Shaquille O’Neal played on several basketball teams, then with the Miami Heat club.
I rarely talk about cases, but the box in which the ‘Shaq’ was offered was made of wood and looked like a basketball.
The caseback of the watch is also distinctive – it features an engraved image of Shaquille at the exact moment when he, once considered the best basketball backboard shatter in the NBA, got caught on the basket after a successful shot from close range.
The number ‘32’ on the dial of the Royal Oak Offshore ‘Shaquille O’Neal’ Chronograph is so coveted that it gives counterfeiters no peace. But beware: fake ‘Shaq’ ROOs with a white dial are circulating on the Internet, while all genuine watches have a black dial on which the signature tapisserie motif is engraved on a special lathe.
Royal Oak Offshore ‘Sachin Tendulkar’
The numerology seems quite logical with Offshore released in 2008 in honor of the great Indian sportsman, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who set many records during his career. The immediate occasion for the release of the special ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ Offshore was the fact that he made his 35th controlled ‘century’ in 2005 (don’t ask me what that means, I assume it’s cool).
Before that, in 2001 Tendulkar was the first player to make 10,000 runs in official games. In his honor, the ten on the dial of the Offshore dedicated to him was marked in white, while all other Arabic hour markers are blue.
In addition to the white ‘10’ on the dial, the Offshore ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ watch has a rarely used design feature, namely the triple stitching of a dark blue alligator leather strap, and it also uses threads in the colors of the Indian national flag: saffron, white and green.
The dark blue shade of the strap, hour markers and crown cover made of rubber, as well as the chronograph pushers, is the color of the 24-spoke wheel depicted in the center of the Indian flag.
On the caseback of the watch is engraved a picture of Sachin Tendulkar and the inscription “35 Centuries”.
For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that in the same year the brand also released the automatic Royal Oak Chronograph ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ in rose gold with brown dial and contrasting white square indexes in an edition of 150 pieces.
Royal Oak Offshore ‘Masato’
Masato Kobayashi, the famous Japanese kickboxer, has been chosen as the next hero of numerology in the line of ‘celebrity’ Offshores. Interestingly, Mr. Kobayashi himself was assisted in the numbers game by his wife, actress Shin Yazawa.
The result is perhaps the most intricate dial of all the Offshores: at 1 o’clock there is a diamond-set ‘3’, Masato Kobayashi’s favorite number, and instead of the ‘2’, Ms. Yazawa chose the ‘14’. Apparently, she had no problems with mathematics in her school days: it resulted in 3.14, the common raw value of pi, one of the most important mathematical constants.
The caseback of the watch is decorated with an engraved emblem of the Silver Wolf (one of the nicknames of the athlete. In addition to the 200 pieces of stainless-steel Royal Oak Offshore, ‘Masato’ was released as diamond set watch in white gold (20 pieces).
Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ‘LeBron James’
In the 44 mm Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ‘LeBron James we don’t see any signs of numerology. Nevertheless, there was still room for imagination and an unusual design approach in this watch: the chronograph start/stop button at 2 o’clock is set with diamonds.
The basketball player’s autograph in blue can be seen on the sapphire caseback. Incidentally, the rose gold toned hour markers with a fine vertical brushing reappear on the limited-edition Offshore.
Royal Oak Offshore ‘Gims’ Chronograph Piece Unique
Royal Oak Offshore ‘Gims’ Chronograph Ref. 26405CE.OO.A002CA.99.99 was made in 2020 as a one-off for Gims, a French rapper.
The two counters on the black ‘méga tapisserie’ dial are connected to each other, forming the shape of the sunglasses the rapper often wears. It seems to be a specially commissioned one-of-a-kind piece.
Royal Oak Offshore ‘1017 ALYX 9SM’ Chronograph
When the topic of Celebrity Offshores seemed closed and almost forgotten, it was continued, quite unexpectedly for me, by two references presented at the last moment: 26238BA.OO.2000BA.01 (yellow gold, limited edition of 75 pieces) and Ref. 26238BC.OO.2000BC.01 (white gold, 75 pieces).
Remember the Jay-Z Offshores and their flat dials without tapisserie relief pattern? This principle is taken to the extreme with the dials of the Offshore ‘1017 ALYX 9SM’. Along with the tapisserie, the counters and all dial markings are missing, although all hands of the in-house caliber 4404 remain on the dial.
The design follows a strikingly minimalist esthetic that is new to the collection. The brushing that originally dominated the case and bracelet of ROO is carried over to the entire dial. Moreover, the brushing is used to a significantly exaggerated extent when, it seems, this brush sweeps everything on it off the dial, leaving only the hands.
Can one seriously speak of industrial esthetics in this case? Not in my opinion, because it suggests a practicality incompatible with the lack of markings on the dial: the chronograph is basically useless, and the value of displaying the current time is also doubtful. The only positive feature is the decorative marking ‘1017 ALYX 9SM’, which is definitely in an industrial and even military manner – it is stylized like a stenciled inscription on a wooden box for industrial products or weapons.
For more information, please visit https://www.audemarspiguet.com/com/en/collections/royal-oak-offshore.html