Although the facelifted models from the elegant and dressy Jules Audemars line designed with CEOs in mind were unarguably the drawing cards of AP’s exhibition at SIHH 2011, it was the refreshed “muscular” Royal Oak Offshore collection –including the new Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in Steel (Ref. 26400SO.OO.A002CA.01)— that was immortalized thanks to Audemars Piguet’s longstanding partnership with Arnold Schwarzenegger that has received the bulk of attention from enthusiasts around the world.
As I have already noted, this new collection is just a face-lift, not a new generation of the legendary series: the new model offers only visual enhancements to the existing AP ROO line, while the mechanical guts remain basically the same.
Just like the last year’s Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix Collection, the 26400SO.OO.A002CA.01 features the same good old AP Caliber 3126/3840 automatic chronograph movement. Based on the AP 3120 “tractor” movement, it features an add-on chronograph module supplied by Dubois-Depraz.
While the caliber is anything but new, it is still a reliable and robust movement. Featuring so many parts (it is built of 365 components and comprises whole 59 jewels: 19 more than the jewel count of the base cal. 3120,) the mechanism will be more expensive to service, but for a person able to spend more than $30k on a watch this probably won’t be a problem.
Like it is usually the case with brands like Audemars Piguet, the mechanism is a pleasure to look at since it sports a partially skeletonized winding rotor made in 22-karat gold and subjected to anthracite galvanic treatment. Its massive mainplate is circular-grained, while the bridges are rhodium-plated, snailed and beveled, and are adorned with Cotes de Geneve motif.
As usual, its signature stainless steel case and the octagonal bezel in black ceramic are screwed together with eight polished stainless steel screws.
The black ceramic is not limited just to the bezel. The crown and the chronograph push-pieces are also made of this scratch-resistant composite material.
The AP ROO will look awkward if you try to wear it with business attire (a lot of people do, though.) The first of all, it just screams “sports watch!” The second is that it, while not particularly large at more or less average (for the class) 44 millimeters in diameter, is -almost disgustingly- thick at 14.43 mm in height and you may have to order a set of special long-sleeve shirts with wider cuffs to wear the chronograph with comfort.
Audemars Piguet plans to sell the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in Steel (Ref. 26400SO.OO.A002CA.01) for around €22,000*.
* UPDATE: As of 2017, the model sells for $33,000 USD.
Photos: Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in Steel (Ref. 26400SO.OO.A002CA.01) specification
Price: $33,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, AP Caliber 3126/3840, 59 jewels, 29.92 mm in diameter, 7.16 mm in height, 365 parts, 21,600 vph, Swiss Made
Movement decoration: Winding rotor partially skeletonized, in 22-karat gold with anthracite galvanic treatment; Mainplate circular-grained, bridges rhodium-plated, beveled, snailed and adorned with Cotes de Geneve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
Power reserve: 60 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Bezel: Black ceramic
Size: 44.00 mm
Case height: 14.43 mm
Dial: White, with Mega Tapisserie motif and applied facetted hour markers with Superluminova compound in white gold
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black rubber, adorned with two grooves, buckle in stainless steel