With its constant flow of stunningly beautiful timekeepers, the SIHH 2010 event was, perhaps, among the most exciting trade shows of the past years. Unveiled together with the “unisex” Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 37 mm, the hand-wound Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph (Ref. 26288OF.OO.D002CR.01) bears that signature bulky presence with a massive rose gold body and a fixed bezel, which is crafted from forged carbon fiber.
Just like Hublot did it with its recently refreshed Big Bang series (hmm, I think I should have better put it more like “any major watchmaker that has enough funds to go the ‘trial and error’ way,”) Audemars Piguet keeps experimenting with different materials throwing chunky piles of cash at the proverbial wall and seeing what sticks.
Sometimes, the list of new materials includes high-tech compounds and alloys that are more often associated with the world of rocket science, microelectronics, and motorsports rather than with such mundane things as relatively ‘primitive’ time measuring devices.
In this particular case, Audemars Piguet referred to the materials that are known for their high durability, relative lightness, and scratch-resistance: namely, forged carbon fiber and ceramic. And, what’s the most impressive, the premium Swiss brand is brave enough to mix carbon fiber with natural alligator leather!
Fighting for wealthy customers with the aforementioned Hublot, Audemars Piguet has produced a product with its traditional deliberately chunky body made in brushed rose gold, while the signature bezel is now machined out of forged carbon fiber: a material that the Swiss-based watchmaker already experimented before (I am, of course, referring to the unique Royal Oak Carbon Concept Tourbillon and Chronograph presented back in 2008.)
Its winding crown and a pair of push-pieces are made of black ceramic (the crown also has a rose gold insert with AP logo on it) making sure that the gadget feels even more upscale.
Although looking unusual, the Ref. 26288OF.OO.D002CR.01 still possesses that undeniable mojo, which the whole Offshore line is usually associated with. Comparable only to that of ultra-expensive luxury cars, like Bugatti Veyron and Rolls-Royce Phantom, or oceanic super-yachts, this mojo is perhaps the secret ingredient that still allows AP to run circle about the competition when it comes to “sporty” wristwatches that bear five-figure price stickers on them.
I mean, when you offer a gadget with a list price of some $325,000 (give or take depending on your local taxes,) a territory that is usually reserved for supercars and this sort of things, you really need to present your customers with something more impressive than a carefully chosen mix of expensive components: you have to offer them to become a part of the legend, right?
The 2010 Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph is powered by an entirely new AP 2912 caliber. Although hand-wound, it is still bulky being impressive 10.67 mm in height and 34.6 mm in diameter (the reason for that are probably the two oversized spring barrels that hold enough energy to keep it going for almost 10 whole days or 237 hours.)
It is no wonder that its 44 mm case is 16.6 mm thick. Weighing around half a pound, the case makes for a self-defense weapon of choice.
Photos: Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph (Ref. 26288OF.OO.D002CR.01) specification
Price range: $325,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber AP 2912, hand-wound, 328 parts, 30 jewels, 21,600 vph, 10.67 mm high, 34.6 mm in diameter, Swiss Made
Finish: Decorated by hand
Functions: Hours, minutes
Complications: Chronograph, tourbillon
Power reserve: 237 hours
Case: 18-karat Rose gold
Bezel: Forged carbon fiber
Shape: Round, Octagonal bezel
Transparent back: Yes, sapphire crystal
Size: 44.00 mm
Case height: 16.60 mm
Dial: Black, skeletonized
Numerals: Arabic, applied, luminous
Hands: Gold, brushed, with a luminous strip (SuperLuminova)
Strap: Hand-stitched, crocodile strap with square scales, 18-karat pink gold AP folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflection coated
Water resistance: 100 meters