The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tour Auto 2009 Chronograph (Ref. 26278IK.GG.D002CA.01) is not really a new timekeeper. This is the same AP RO Offshore that we all know and some of us love so much, still equipped with the new AP 2326/2840 chronograph caliber, but featuring a little bit different combination of materials and colors.
The Royal Oak Offshore Tour Auto 2009 comes packed in a titanium case with a black rubber bezel and hideous-looking winding crown and push-pieces made of steel but covered with bright red rubber.
At 42 millimeters in diameter, the case doesn’t look too large. It could even be called compact, if only not for its impressive thickness and massive, heavy-looking parts that give this timepiece an appearance like it was designed with world-class powerlifters, not sports car pilots in mind.
The red color of the rubber, though absolutely revolting, is probably chosen for its close relation to the world of ultra-expensive sports cars that are often ordered in the same color of arterial blood (red cars go faster, you know).
For the same reason, I guess, the three chronograph totalizers are, too, painted red with contrastingly white hands and small numerals. Of course, this is purely a matter of taste, but these rubber elements somehow cheapen the watch, make the legendary design less tasteful. To me, the Tour Auto 2009 looks like AP wanted it to be served with packages of Happy Meal and it was only by a terrible mistake that the timekeeper lacks a Mickey Mouse face on its black dial.
The combination of black, red, and white has its advantages, though.
First of all, the watch is very hard not to notice. The second is, thanks to the chosen color scheme, the legibility is adequate for a chronograph. Against the black background of the dial, the white Arabic numerals are very easily readable even though most of them have their better parts cut out by chronograph sub-dials and the circular date aperture, which is traditionally placed at 3 hours.
The 12-hours totalizer at 6 o’clock may cause you some problems, though, because the four additional markings on 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock of the counter are almost as thick as the tiny chronograph hour hand. And they are painted in the same color, too!
If the lighting is not that good, persons with poor eyesight may have a hard time reading the chronograph indication.
On the other, err, hand, the hour and minute hands, as well as the eight Arabic numerals are generously covered with white Superluminova and are highly legible both in broad daylight and in the dark of night.
Due to the impressive price of the timekeeper (the Tour Auto 2009 Chronograph retails at around $35,000, give or take), Audemars Piguet plans to limit the model’s production to mere 100 units, so you may have to hurry up to reserve one for yourself.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Photos: Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tour Auto 2009 Chronograph specification
Price range: $35,000 (MSRP)
Movement: AP 2326/2840 caliber, automatic, 28,800 vph, Swiss Made
Complications: Chronograph, date
Power reserve: 38 hours
Case: Titanium, rubber
Size: 42.00 mm
Dial: Black, “Mega-Tapisserie” decoration
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black rubber with folding clasp in shot-peened titanium
Crystal: Sapphire, AR-coated