It came in gold, it came in titanium, and now the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Volcano Limited Edition Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph watch comes in platinum. A timepiece like this sits in the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore hall of kings. It isn’t the most exclusive Royal Oak Offshore ever made, but those people who are fortunate to own one have probably succeeded in making a range of other uncommonly cost-intensive purchases in life. I say this because to go from wearing a Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph to a Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph is a serious leap in one’s development as a watch wearer. So what is this rare watch all about?
If you want to be particular, you can refer to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Te Koop Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph as the reference 26388PO.OO.D027CA.01, or more simply as Royal Oak Offshore 26388. Having said that, I’ve never been one to recall watch reference numbers, as they are too abstract for me. I assign personalities to watches just as I do with people, so giving them a proper name is helpful. On that note, I’ve never been able to get with people, such as Patek Philippe lovers, who seem to memorize the brand’s “code” of models. At least some of them have actual names…
The watch industry likes to help designate platinum watches by matching them with blue. Of course, that isn’t to say all watches with blue accents have platinum cases, but the reciprocal is often true. The platinum Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph comes with a rather stunning metallic blue dial and deep midnight blue rubber strap. It is odd that I said that latter part so nonchalantly. 20 years ago you’d never see a rubber strap with a tourbillon, and no tourbillon watch would have been this sporty. Have we come that far?
Nevertheless, if you look closely at the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Bezel Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph’s dial you’ll notice fine watch making removed from the Royal Oak Offshore’s sporty design and dimensions. Perlage polishing is liberally used on the in-house made movement and the 3Hz balance wheel looks like something from Audemars Piguet’s most elegant stock. Elegance, with sporty armor, though. Audemars Piguet uses a modern looking black-colored anodized aluminum bridge over the tourbillon, and more black aluminum bridges in other parts of the movement, such as on the rear, and to hold the mainspring barrels in place.
Certainly, one of the aesthetic issues with automatic movements is that the central rotor hides almost half of their movement’s components — and if there’s ever were a “first world problem” in watch style, then this has to be it. Worry not, however, since Audemars Piguet has engineered the 2897 to have a peripheral winding rotor crafted from platinum.To provide the wearer an uninhibited view of this movement, the watch is equipped with a peripheral rotor which swirls around the motion rather than sitting on top of the motion. This is not the first time we have seen a peripheral rotor (Jaeger-LeCoultre, as an instance, used one within their Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon) but, if one of the primary draws of high-end watchmaking is the privilege of imitating the motion, one wonders why they aren’t used more often. The choice of platinum for the rotor is designed to add weight, maximizing inertia to charge the mainspring.The semicircular platinum rotor swings round the top part of the calibre providing the watch one of its coolest features… but more about this in a bit. According to Audemars Piguet, over 30% of the price of the watch is generated by the decoration of this motion. Revealed in all of its splendor, the motion is superbly executed with hand-bevelled borders, satin polished horizontal surfaces and bevelled and polished edges on the levers and bridges. Particularly eye-catching are both big bridges with sandblasted centers.
Speaking on mainsprings there are two barrels, and in total, the in-house made Audemars Piguet caliber 2912 manually wound movement has a long power reserve of 237 hours. That is a nice long time but unfortunately the movement doesn’t offer a power reserve indicator, even though you can view the mainspring barrels through the skeletonized sections of the dial.
The caliber 2912 movement is impressive looking, and it does an admirable job of mixing that haute horology feel with contemporary design principles. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph is, after all, a product of the most modern Royal Oak Offshore design principles. That includes little elements such as the hands, crown, chronograph pushers, and other details. Still, the Royal Oak Offshore is based on the original Royal Oak from 1972, so in many ways this is a retro design, though you’d be forgiven for not knowing that based on what this watch looks like.