Officially presented at the SIHH 2010 trade show, the 2010 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver (ref. 15703ST.OO.A002CA.01) is a true -if *ahem* a bit expensive- diving tool with an official depth rating of 300 meters.
Although capable of withstanding the serious water pressure, it still can hardly be considered a professional diver, because it lacks a helium-escape valve. In the worst-case scenario, its thick sapphire glass may just pop during decompression.
Still, you can wear it as a “casual” watch and still use it for some 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. The scale is hidden in the inner part of the bezel and is controlled with an extra crown located at 10 o’clock.
Like many other timekeepers that were introduced during the 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 in the total count) and features a rather slow frequency of just 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour.
Still, the lower frequency allowed for a more impressive power reserve of full sixty hours, while winding efficiency is ensured not only by the bi-directional winding system but also by its -a bit unusual- oscillation weight. Crafted from 22-karat 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 mainspring in shorter bursts of time.
Traditionally for the Swiss Manufacture, the movement features a 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 their main measure against counterfeiting. 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 case 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 maybe 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 dive timer and then showing it off to friends and relatives, the primary winding/setting crown not only looks cool thanks to its hexagonal screw-nut design but also provides a good grip even for a gloved hand.
For a “tool” 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 pattern, 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) specification
Price: $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 and Bezel: Stainless steel
Shape: Round, Octagonal bezel
Transparent back: No, solid, engraved
Size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 13.75 mm
Hands: Stainless steel
Strap: Black rubber
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflection coated
Water resistance: 300 meters