Now that Audemars Piguet’s new collection of 42mm Royal Oak Offshore watches has been on the market for over a year, it is due time we take a closer look at this inspiring luxury sports timepiece.
Originally launched in 1993, the standard Royal Oak Offshore models saw little change over a period of 20 years. In 2014, AP brought forth significant revisions and upgrades to the collection, launching 6 new variations of the iconic watch while discontinuing older references at the same time. We will be examining the 26470ST.OO.A104CR.01, sometimes referred to as the “elephant” with its greyscale appearance.
The most practical revision to the Offshore is the new strap offering. Previously available on metal bracelets and straps with folding deployant clasps, the new lineup is delivered mounted on alligator straps attached to pin buckles. The gold cased model is offered with a matching bracelet, and a steel bracelet can be ordered as an accessory for the steel cased model, as well as a few rubber strap options. But the main key is the pin buckle and wider strap size, now 20mm.
At last, all wrist sizes can quickly dial in a comfortable fit with this new arrangement. Smaller wrists have for years loathed the older deployant clasp.
The alligator strap itself is extremely pliable, and definitely not as stiff in the horn area as older AP hornback straps. As always, the quality is exceptional.
The new dials are crisper in detail and present a more refined appearance.
Numerals and hour markers are neatly trimmed with polished fillets. So are the sub counters and date window. If you have yet to hold one of these updated Offshores in your hands, you will be surprised by the new balance obtained on the dial by trimming the date aperture. It is a great example of AP not overlooking an opportunity to enhance the design.
After over 20 years of AP’s classic rounded end hour and minute hands, we finally gain new facetted hands that fit the watch much better. They also enhance legibility as they catch the light now, something of significant importance on a dark dial like this one.
The numerals are streamlined in size. Coupled with the polished trim, they have a real sculpted look to them. When you start to see these details together, they add up to a much more dimensional and exciting dial in comparison to the older “themes” dials.
2 other dial details of positive note. First, the date disc background is now black with white text on top. Still easy to read, but thankfully there is no longer a white hole present to distract on the dial. I feel the date is something that should be there and be easy to read when you think to look at it, but it should otherwise not call your attention. Bravo, AP.
Second, we finally have reached an accord regarding the color of the chrono counter hands. This detail has been an inconsistent one for AP, and while never a deal breaker in my watch selections, one of those small “design opportunities” that AP did previously overlook on some variations.
So on this grey dial, we see the chrono seconds needle, chrono hours, and chrono minutes are all white. But the continuous seconds counter at 12 is not – it is unpainted metal to match the primary hours and minutes hand. Bravo again AP; this detail should almost always be executed in this manner.
I have purposely saved the most important evolution of this 42mm Royal Oak Offshore for last: the new black ceramic crown, pushers, and guard design.
WOW. Have a look at these wonderful details. Parallel brush strokes in the metal, tight fitting openings, hand polished bevels. The very best of Audemars Piguet.
For a refresher, let’s compare to an older grey dial themes Offshore I once owned. Very blocky cutout for the crown. OK, not so bad, and remember, that is a design detail that goes back over 20 years.
How about the trapezoid shaped cutouts in the top of the guard to fit the rubber chrono pushers? Hmmm. I might have enjoyed being present when that little detail was discovered.
Rubber coated crown and pushers. Rubber is soft to the touch, grippy, suitable. But not sustainable.
The photos of this titanium Offshore were snapped upon delivery.
What about after a few years of usage? Here is an older 25770. Do you notice the softening of the edges on the crown?
How about now?
Gulp. Is MichaelC knocking the venerable Royal Oak Offshore? Well, yes and no. Everyone knows I have enjoyed many of these charming nuggets the past 15 years. They are awesome. But changes were due, and AP’s solutions are perfect.
Please note, AP Service Centers handle these aged rubber pieces quite nicely. They discard them and replace them with brand new parts… and your watch is restored to proper order (for a small fee, of course).
Top view of the new 42mm. So much nicer is the appearance around the crown and pushers. And these ceramic parts will last indefinitely.
The angular buildout atop the guard enhances the edgy look of this new Offshore. It also echoes the detailing of AP’s 44mm Offshore collection, and we have seen AP’s efforts to unify traits across collections.
Still a monster at 42mm. Lost in the age of supersized watches is proper proportion. AP got it perfectly correct in 1993, and it remains perfectly correct in 2015. Great design never goes out of style.
A final detail AP is proud about is the inclusion of an open caseback on these new 42mm Offshores. Certainly a sign of the times, as most manufacturers do the same.
The Offshore originally touted its “soft iron inner cage” to provide protection against accidental magnetism of the movement. I happened to also enjoy looking at that large piece of flat steel with its minimal engravings. But the open back is acceptable for me on this new version, and congruent with the other refinements.
Choosing a new model is not so easy. They all look damn good. One trait that has been rekindled in my heart, an all steel Offshore is really a must for any AP collector. In fact, I am working on another article that deals with the rage of multi-material watches, and how MichaelC is going back to the basics. That will come soon Friends.
But for now, make sure you do not overlook these new 26470 Royal Oak Offshores. Yes, you can get a 44mm, yes, you can still find an older version 42mm. But I believe AP has managed to take one of the most iconic sports watches in the world and reestablished its relevance and superiority, without altering its original character. That is a rather amazing accomplishment.
This message has been edited by MichaelC on 2015-06-25 09:42:47
Terrific, detailed review.
I love each and every improvement over the prior model, and personally, I much prefer the 42mm RO offshore as compared to the 44mm version.
I see these improvements as shifting the 42mm RO offshore further toward the luxury side of the spectrum and away from the rugged/tool watch side of the spectrum; but that’s OK with me as I have always viewed the RO offshore line as luxury watches with a sport watch aesthetic. I even like the see-through case-back as it’s a real treat to view the AP 3120 movement.
If I could chang one thing, I would slim down the watch a bit by reducing the size of the rubber gasket under the bezel. I have never liked the size of that rubber piece, and slimming it down would improve wearability without compromising wrist presence. Slimming down the rubber piece would also be consistent with the shift further toward the luxury side of the spectrum.
Thanks for such a great review.
No message bodyI love to get it get it!
I love to get it get it!
Thanks for the review
Great write-up and, wow, those pics raise the bar on detailed photography. I want!!!
Thank you.M4For me, this new Grey model, as well as the very first ROO (on bracelet, blue dial) are the nicest ROOs ever.