It looks like Audemars Piguet decided to milk another bucket of cash from the proverbial cow. Having updated its last year’s Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph with a more subdued -if not in terms of cost, then at least for the black-and-gray color scheme that was chosen for this version- the variation, which is going to be sold as a Ref. 26550AU.OO.A002CA.01 model, the Swiss watchmaking specialist makes another daring assault on your wallets.
If you compare both models, you will see that the new Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph 26550AU.OO.A002CA.01 retained the basic shapes of the last year’s version, but now offers a different combination of materials and a more “standard” layout of the dial.
The case is now made of forged carbon, which is accented with a glossy black ceramic bezel, as well as crown and chronograph push-pieces made of the same scratch-resistant material.
While sporting the same diameter of 44 millimeters, it is now about two millimeters thinner, measuring only 14 mm in height.
The weight reduction comes courtesy of the new AP Caliber 2897 automatic movement.
Being 31.40 mm in diameter, it is only 7.75 mm high, which makes it 2.92 mm thinner than the AP 2912 hand-wound caliber that powered the 2010 Ref. 26288OF.OO.D002CR.01 model.
According to the Swiss brand, the movement itself was designed (and probably manufactured) by their long-time partners Renaud & Papi: another Swiss-based brand that was established approximately 25 years ago by Giulio Papi and Dominic Renaud who got so frustrated by the monotony of working from nine to five whole five days a week that they decided to start their own business.
Interestingly enough, they were so successful in their very first business venture that pretty soon Audemars Piguet -a brand that is owned by the Richemont Group and has exclusive access to all their technology- started to by complicated movements from them. This particular model, for example, runs on 34 jewels and comprises 335 hand-decorated components. Beating at 21,600 vibrations per hour, the movement offers a more than adequate power reserve of 65 hours.
Although the previous version looked a lot more impressive than the new one, the 2011 MY model offers in return greatly increased legibility and even makes it possible to wear the gadget with a formal dress.
As you can see in the pictures, the Tourbillon Chronograph is equipped with a black-waffle “Mega Tapisserie” patterned dial with a pair of white sub-dials (a small seconds display at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock,) and a tourbillon escapement at 6 o’clock.
The faceted hour and minute hands, as well as applied hour markers, are made of white gold and feature generous amounts of the luminescent substance.
As usual, the watch will be supplied on a black rubber strap, which is adorned with two grooves and is secured with a titanium pin buckle (nope, no folding clasp here, sorry.)
No info on pricing yet*.
* UPDATE ON PRICE: It’s been reported that the Tourbillon Chronograph will go on sale with a minimum recommended price tag of impressive $270,000. Although the use of non-conventional -to say the least- materials for the timekeeper’s massive body, as well as the choice of a high-end caliber, partially justifies the price, I would still say that it is outrageously expensive. Well, perhaps that was the idea?
Photos: Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph (Ref. 26550AU.OO.A002CA.01) specification
Price: $270,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, AP Caliber 2897, in-house, 335 parts, peripheral oscillating weight, 34 jewels, 21,600 vph, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, tourbillon, chronograph
Power reserve: 65 hours
Case: Forged carbon
Bezel: Black ceramic
Size: 44.00 mm
Case height: 14.00 mm
Hands: White gold
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black rubber, adorned with two grooves. Titanium pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflective