The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver (ref. 15703ST.OO.A002CA.01) that was officially presented last week at the SIHH 2010 event is a true diving watch with an official depth rating of 300 meters.
Although capable of withstanding the serious water pressure, the watch still can not be considered a professional diving watch, because it lacks a helium escape valve. In a worst case scenario, its thick sapphire glass may pop during decompression.
Still, you can wear it as a casual watch and still use it for casual scuba diving.
Its main selling point is the inner 60-minute diving scale. While some beautiful timepieces were utterly ruined because their styling was incompatible with a standard unidirectional rotating bezel, this one keeps its original face. As you can see on the photos, the scale is hidden on the inner part of the bezel and is controlled with an extra crown located at 10 o’clock.
As many other timekeepers that were introduced during last five years or so, this new ROO Diver is animated by their relatively new Caliber AP 3120. First introduced back in 2004, the mechanism is built on 40 jewels (plus five more jewels under the calendar disk that are, as usual, not included into the total count) and features a rather slow frequency of just 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour.
Still, the lower frequency allowed for more impressive power reserve of full sixty hours, while winding efficiency is ensured not only by bi-directional winding system, but also by its -a bit unusual- oscillation weight. Crafted from 22-carat gold, the part is a bit smaller than most rotors we have seen in other timekeepers, but is a lot heavier and thus is capable of providing more energy to the main spring in shorter bursts of time.
Traditionally for the Swiss Manufacture, the movement features a very high level of exterior finish with the aforementioned oscillating weight being the flashiest among them featuring the usual coats of arms, the brand logo, as well as that trademark dark glow of a thing crafted from good gold alloy.
The mechanism is perhaps the main counterfeiting feature of their watches, too bad that in most Royal Oak Offshore models the case back cover is usually crafted from a solid chunk of metal.
At 42 millimeters in diameter, the watch is pleasantly compact (at least, for a sporty diver companion) and doesn’t take too much space on a wrist thanks to its relatively short integrated lugs. However, being almost 14 mm thick, the piece may be not as comfortable if you plan to use it with formal attire.
While you will probably never use the secondary crown at 10 o’clock after first testing the watch and then showing-off to friends and relatives, the primary winding/setting crown not only looks cool thanks to its hexagonal screw-nut design, but also provides good grip even for a glowed hand.
For a tool watch that this specimen tries to look like, its dial is a bit too busy. Not in a sense of it offering too many displays thus overwhelming you with data, but in a way of it looking sort of cluttered due to its usual Mega Tapisserie background patter, which is combined with applied hour markers, complex-looking hands and the thin white minute markers on the internal bezel flange.
At least, the elements are contrast enough to be read at day and there is enough lume on them to be legible at night. A magnifying lens over the small calendar window, too, makes things a bit easier on your eyes.
Photos: Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver (Ref. 15703ST.OO.A002CA.01) watch specification
Price range: $19,000 (MSRP)
Movement: AP 3120, automatic, 40 jewels, 278 parts, 21,600 vph, 4.25 mm high, 26.0 mm in diameter, Swiss Made
Complications: Date, inner dive-time measuring scale
Power reserve: 60 hours
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Stainless steel
Case shape: Round, Octagonal bezel
Transparent case back: No, solid caseback
Case size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 13.75 mm
Hands: Stainless steel
Strap: Black rubber
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflection coated
Water resistance: 300 meters