Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Montauk Highway limited edition – Daos’ On The Wrist review
Please leave a note of thanks to Daos for her tasteful insights into a very intriguing design of complementary contradictions
“I want it.”
“Can I have your watch?”
“I love that watch! Where’d you get it?”
The above are actual verbal reactions that I received to wearing the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Montauk Highway (Let’s call it “the Montauk” from here on out.). I honestly was not surprised that the Montauk garnered quite a bit of attention. Its robust 44mm case diameter, while not outside the norm of what is au courant in horological design, has presence; coupled with the white rubber strap on which it was delivered for review, and you begin to feel eyes caressing your wrist as you cross a room.
Wearing the Montauk has been an eye-opening experience in many ways. It’s the biggest watch I’ve ever worn for a significant period of time (The 43mm Piaget Altiplano Double Jeu previously held that title.), it’s the heaviest stainless steel piece I’ve encountered to date, and perhaps most importantly this Royal Oak Offshore is the first timepiece I’ve “lived with” that impacted me more as an object of modern design, rather than simply as a wristwatch. Let’s dissect that last thought, because I know inevitably that any ensuing discussion about the Montauk is going to touch upon the issue of limited editions –
you love ‘em;
you hate ‘em;
they’re marketing shenanigans;
AP [or insert your brand of choice (JLC, Panerai, etc.) here] has sold out!
Okay, I hear you. I understand the cynicism, but here’s the basic conclusion I arrived at after wearing the Montauk for a few weeks.
Good design, is good design.
Iterations like the Montauk will come and go, with some variations on color, material, or slightly modified features being more/less successful than others, but the core design elements of the Offshore are compelling, in my opinion. Like an Eames Lounge Chair, the Royal Oak Offshore isn’t going anywhere. You may hate the design; you may love it, but I have to believe that anyone who enjoys watches, enjoys machines, enjoys design, can’t help but react to the watch on an intellectual or emotional level in some way. To me, that’s good design at work. It’s the only watch I’ve worn to date that inspired a huge level of active, engaged, watch-related discussion amongst my decidedly uninterested-in-watches colleagues – both men and women (I was particularly floored by the overwhelming love that my female friends had for the timepiece.).
I think it’s fair to say that the road to the Montauk starts with Gerald Genta’s now iconic design from the early 70s, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Released in stainless steel, and not exactly traditional in construction or spirit, AP’s decision to move forward with the Royal Oak seems brazen and forward-thinking. Even today, the Royal Oak feels fresh and inspired to me. How does a steel watch that channels such industrial, architectural elements as exposed screws, simultaneously come across as elegant and polished? (Answer: give it a relatively svelte profile, a fine finish, and beautiful movement.) Watch designs featuring exposed screws may elicit a declaration of “been there, done that” today, but the original Royal Oak debuted in 1972! With the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet declared that being a haute de gamme manufacture and being audacious weren’t mutually exclusive. Well played, AP, well played.
The Royal Oak Offshore arrived on the scene roughly twenty years after the birth of the Royal Oak. Designer, Emmanuel Gueit, took an elegantly sporty watch (our beloved Royal Oak) and turned it into a design behemoth, literally and figuratively. At that time, before our current era of large watches, the Offshore was a singular, bold, and beefy vision of what it means to be a luxury sport watch. The rest of the watch world played catch-up in the ensuing years, but the Offshore continues to be a larger-than-life timepiece. Looking back, Audemars Piguet’s audacity in releasing the design almost seems foolhardy, but fortune favors the bold, as history proves time and time again. After all, how many watch brands get name-checked by Beyoncé, and used as a verb, no less:
“Partner let me upgrade you,
Audemars Piguet you,
Switch your neck ties to purple labels…”
(lyrics excerpted from the song “Upgrade U”)
It’s fitting that Beyoncé should serve as the segue into our specific discussion about the Montauk, because I could absolutely see her wearing the watch. The Montauk is an ideal timepiece for a coolly confident woman like Beyoncé. Apart from the size and heft of the Montauk, which skews traditionally male at a hearty 44mm in diameter and 18mm thick, the color palette of the watch is most definitely female-friendly. With strap options in white rubber, and also brown hornback with aqua stitching (to match the color of the watch’s hands, numerals and flange) the Montauk is equally comfortable paired with a chic Lilly Pulitzer empire-waistline dress or a La Perla bikini. Conversely, the fashion-forward gentleman can accentuate his traditional seersucker suit, or madras shorts and polo shirt combo with this same timepiece to great effect.
Named in honor of the roughly 100-mile long Montauk Highway that connects Jamaica, in the Queens borough of New York City, to Montauk Point, on the south fork of Long Island in the town of East Hampton, the watch’s name begins to conjure images of sand dunes and Atlantic breakers. You’ve heard of “the Hamptons?” Well, East Hampton is part of THOSE “Hamptons” — the beautiful seaside enclave which boasts several of America’s wealthiest zip codes. The Hamptons has become synonymous with the summertime exploits of the well-heeled set, and the Montauk Highway is the road that takes you there. It’s fitting then that the watch bearing this highway’s name is Audemars Piguet’s take on the Royal Oak Offshore for the sand and surf set.
The first indicator that the Montauk is an Offshore perhaps better suited to clambakes than fighting killer cyborgs, is its color scheme. A creamy off-white Méga Tapisserie guilloché pattern dial, recalls the salt-kissed vintage white of painted Adirondack chairs, while the bronze-chocolate counters, and aqua numbers, hands, counter pointers and tachymeter scale evoke images of sand, sea and sky.
The Montauk is your East Coast summer seaside retreat condensed into a wristwatch! The chronograph display features a 12-hour counter at the 6 o’clock position, a 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock, and centrally-mounted second hand. One thing I noted about the overall time display was that the rounded ends of the hour and minute hands were not particularly conducive to precise time-telling, which seemed counter-intuitive for a chronograph. The dial also includes a continuous small seconds display at 12 o’clock and a date window at 3 o’clock. The sunken magnified date window takes some getting used to. Even as I write this I’m on the fence as to whether or not I like the date display.
For the rest of Daos’ review in AP forum, please CLICK HERE
I’m a new poster on these forums, but I’ve enjoyed following the quality of the commentary, conversation, and camaraderie for some time. This review inspired me to join the discussion!
Daos, your study of the ROO Montauk Highway Edition captured everything I love about this piece and helped me to connect with the basic intellectual-emotional motivation that drives my pursuit of the watch hobby/obsession.
This one evokes warm memories of epic summertime bike rides from Manhattan to Montauk via that romantic south shore road. It’s raining where I am, but I read your review, especially the invocation of Long Island coastal imagery, and I’m back on sun-drenched East End tarmac, racing with the gulls on a seaborne tailwind. You’re right: the design and detailing of this watch evoke the sensations of that place in a fashion that is almost magical.
Although I’m principally a JLC fan, I have a warm place in my heart for all fine watches, especially ones that take my heart to a warmer place!
Congratulations on your new timepiece and a pro-quality review, both of which are stunningly well-attuned to nuance and finely-crafted.
I feel so honored that you chose to respond to my review with what I hope will be the first of many posts on the site. It was not so long ago that I stopped lurking and posted for the first time, and now here I am 6,000+ posts later! The community of people here on PuristSPro is what makes this place special, in my opinion. It’s my virtual home, and I hope you’ll also come to feel that way about the forums here.
I grew up on the East Coast (Virginia), and have similar fond memories of beach retreats up and down the Eastern seaboard — the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Ipswich, Rehoboth, Virginia Beach, the Outer Banks…and on and on. There’s something about East Coast beaches in the summer time — something nostalgic, something redolent of childhood and innocent times. The Montauk reminded me of those times and is just so summery and a lot of fun. I’m glad it brought back good memories for you, too.
Thanks for reading the article and for your kind words. Welcome again to the site! I look forward to reading more from you.
Thank you for a great and entertaining review, it has finally brought me out of hiding, and causing me to post for the first time.
My wife and i are both big watch lovers, and when i say big, i mean “large”. Amongst our collection are several AP ROO’s but the two that my wife bought for herself and wears most often are the T3 and the Montauk highway. We bought the Montsauk Highway at London Jewelers in East Hampton and were able to score one of the lowest numbers (below 20)
We own a weekend home in Montauk and over the last 2 summers this watch has gotten us some great fringe benefits during the busy summer season.
As you state several ways the Montauk is quite eye-catching, that is especially so when it has the white summer strap and it is on a small, olive skinned feminine wrist. It has proven to be a great conversation starter, and the watch has been directly responsible for the creation of several friendships.
However the great experiences that make me want to respond to your post happened one weekend this past summer.
The weekend after the fourth of July we wanted to have dinner with 4 people at the “Surf Lodge” one of the hottest places in Montauk, NY, when we got there we were told there was NO WAY by the hostess, as we were about to leave the manager walked by and caught my wife’s wrist from the corner of his eye.
he immediately stopped to ask “is that the Montauk highway”, when my wife responded positively, he pulled up his sleeve to show his own (with the chocolate rubber strap), and immediately asked for her number, when my wife told him the low number the ice was completely broken.
He continued to talk to both of us, and as you probably saw coming, we got a table right away, (the one they usually keep open for celebrities)
Now this was nice, but what makes it even crazier is that the very next day we went to “Navy Beach” one of the newest restaurants in town, but this time we were with 8 of us. (off course there was no chance)
The host noticed my wife’s watch, and asked her to come over to meet his friend who was obsesed with the watch, but could not afford one. He had taken a white watch (i forgot the brand) and taken it apart just so that he could paint it to resemble the Montauk Highway. it was pretty impressive
Again the result of this brief encounter was that we got a table right away (although this time it was not the prime spot)
As i stated, my wife also wears other big watches and her T3 and the IWC Big Pilot in White Gold are considerably bigger than the Montauk and are also attention grabbers on her small wrist. However the level of attention they get are nowhere near the excitement that people have when they see the Montauk Highway.
I have never encountered anything like it.
Hi there! First of all, welcome and thank you so much for using your very first post to respond to my write-up! Your story is the kind of tale that every watch lover revels in, not because of the special treatment necessarily (Although, that is sweet!), but because it’s evidence of how watches — especially beautiful and unique ones like the Montauk — bring people together. Who can be against that?!
Also, your wife sounds like the coolest! Any woman who digs watches like the T3 and Big Pilot is alright by me! Now that you and I have “broken the ice” with your first post, let’s read more from you! How about some pictures on the forum of your favorite timepieces! I look forward to reading you in the AP forum and wherever else your collection leads us.
I’m really tickled by your stories and appreciate you sharing them with me! Have a great weekend!