Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 26238TI
In 2021, Audemars Piguet released a slate of new Royal Oak Offshore models to carry on the legacy of the original AP “Beast” watch that debuted in 1993. We go hands-on with one of those new-gen models, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph ref. 26238TI.OO.2000TI.01 to not only highlight what has changed and what has remained the same but also to lay out all the appealing details of this modern RO.
The Origins of the Royal Oak Offshore
Designed by Emmanuel Gueit and released in 1993, the Royal Oak Offshore was developed to honor the 20th anniversary of the Gerald Genta-designed Royal Oak watch from 1972 (the release was one year late due to production issues.)
Designer Emmanuel Gueit and The Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST
Though the Offshore retained many of the original Royal Oak’s design details, such as the octagonal bezel with hexagonal screws, unique case silhouette, and integrated bracelet, it was a much more dramatic approach. The Royal Oak Offshore featured a massive-for-the-era 42mm case, an oversized visible black gasket under the bezel, rubber-clad crown and pushers, and curved links on the bracelet. The result was a bolder and brasher version of the Royal Oak and the Offshore was quickly nicknamed “The Beast.”
The Royal Oak Offshore eventually spun off from a commemorative model into a fully fledge collection with a vast assortment of materials, sizes, complications, and colors on offer. Today, the Royal Oak Offshore lineup sits alongside the Royal Oak range, both offering distinct models and each enjoying a large and loyal following.
The Royal Oak Offshore in Titanium
Audemars Piguet initially released three versions of the newest generation Royal Oak Offshore watches – one in stainless steel, one in 18k pink gold, and one in titanium. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26238TI.OO.2000TI.01 is the titanium version.
While all three variants maintained the basic design blueprint of the original Offshore, the trio also benefited from Audemars Piguet’s newest self-winding flyback chronograph movement (complete with a sapphire caseback for prime viewing), a new interchangeable strap system, and a revamped dial.
Like the original, the current production Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26238TI sports a 42mm case. That case, which is 15.2mm thick and water-resistant to 100 meters, sits on top of a visible black gasket and under the customary octagonal bezel. To match the black gasket, the titanium case is also home to black rubber push-pieces and screw-locked crown.
True to the 1993 aesthetics, the new-gen titanium Royal Oak Offshore watch incorporates a “Petite Tapisserie” pattern, rendered in a light gray color and accented with black counters and a black inner bezel with a tachymeter scale. The counters are laid out at the original 6, 9, and 12 positions, however, the small seconds counter and hour counter have been switched. Therefore, the small seconds counter is now at 6, the hour counter is positioned at 12, and the minute counter has remained at 9. What’s more, the counters have shifted slightly so they’re all at equal distances from the center of the dial. The baton hands and applied hour markers are all lumed for legibility in the dark.
Again, as a tribute to the first Offshore, the ref. 26238TI includes the applied AP logo and accompanying Audemars Piguet inscription at 3 o’clock. Finally, like the 1993 model, the latest titanium Royal Oak Offshore also includes a magnification lens for the circular date window at 3 o’clock.
New to the watch is the practical interchangeable strap system. While the Royal Oak Offshore 26238TI.OO.2000TI.01 is furnished with a matching titanium bracelet, the watch is accompanied by two additional straps: a black leather strap and a black rubber strap, each offering a whole new look when fitted to the watch.
Audemars Piguet Caliber 4404
The biggest update to the new generation Royal Oak Offshore is the movement that powers the watch – Caliber 4404.
A self-winding integrated chronograph movement, Caliber 4404 is equipped with a column wheel and features a flyback chronograph. Unlike a traditional chronograph where the hand has to be stopped before returning to the zero position and restarting, the chronograph hand on a flyback chronograph can restart without needing to halt first. There’s also a patented zero resetting mechanism that ensures that each of the counter hands instantaneously resets to zero when the push-piece is pressed.
Aside from the chronograph function, the watch also includes hacking seconds (whereby the seconds hand comes to a complete stop when pulled out for precise time-setting) and quickset date (whereby the date can be set without having to move the timekeeping hands).
The in-house-developed Audemars Piguet Caliber 4404 operates at 28,800vph and supplies 70 hours of power reserve. Thankfully, the Royal Oak Offshore ref. 26238TI.OO.2000TI.01 features a sapphire caseback to see the movement, including the 22k gold winding rotor, in action.
A beautiful and modern interpretation of the original 1993 Offshore Beast, the new-generation Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph ref. 26238TI.OO.2000TI.01 is every bit as bold and brash as its inspiration but replete with a slew of thoughtful upgrades to suit today’s luxury watch buyer.