During the SIHH 2014 trade show, AP has offered a whole bunch of new watches those including a set of refreshed Royal Oak Offshore collection of sporty chronographs. There were different versions in gold, plain steel, and even glossy white ceramic. The model that impressed me the most (i.e. I would even seriously consider it being my next THE watch if I didn’t have other, more important plans for this year) was, surprisingly, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Vintage Safari (Ref. 26470ST.OO.A801CR).
The secret behind its attractiveness, possibly, lies in a nice combination of warm chocolate brown and ivory of the dial and strap with polished and satin-finished stainless steel of the body. While a normal ROO in steel usually looks too cold and restrained and better suits either a Terminator or a RoboCop, this mix of colors and textures was designed for a human being.
According to AP’s press release, the new breed of the Royal Oak Offshore family comes in slightly face-lifted bodies, although changes are so subtle that you would need a sharp eye to notice them. The first thing that I have noticed is the new, more energetic shape of crown guards, as well as new facetted hands that make the watch look even sportier than before.
The traditional nut-shaped crown, as well as the cylindrical chronograph push-pieces, are now crafted not from the usual soft rubber, but from much more pleasant to touch ceramic material that reiterates the sporty nature of the watch.
The rest is the same. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Vintage Safari (Ref. 26470ST.OO.A801CR) is powered by the same Caliber 3126 automatic movement that we have seen in last year’s iterations of the legendary watch. It still features the signature 22-karat gold oscillating weight with the usual Audemars and Piguet family crests and sports the same high level of decoration.
Of course, the trademark Mega Tapisserie motif of the timekeeper’s face slightly detracts from its legibility making the dial look a bit more cramped than I would care to, but this lack of readability is partly compensated with a new “super-bright” luminous compound that covers not only the hour and minute hands but also the usual set of eight boxy Arabic numerals.
As usual, the timekeeper’s size, which is stated in official specification, is a bit misleading. While the new Vintage Safari indeed measures just 42 millimeters in diameter, it is in fact quite bulky. Despite its relatively thin body that houses 7.00 mm automatic movement, the Offshore Chronograph family traditionally features an extremely thick octagonal bezel.
Fixed to the case with eight polished screws of the same geometric shape, the part gives the device its uniquely deep dial with its bezel flange being wide enough to house an easily readable tachymeter scale. At the same time, it makes it a real pain to wear the timekeeper with tight-cuffed shirt or jacket. Well, if you are buying this sort of timekeeper, you probably have enough funds to also own a piece of clothing tailored just for a beautiful monster like this one.
Still no info on pricing, but I can make a guess that its price will be in the vicinity of €20,000*.
See also: Audemars Piguet Chronographe Royal Oak Offshore Tour Auto 2012 Limited Edition (Ref. 26208ST.00.D305CR.01)
* UPDATE ON PRICE: The ref. 26470ST.OO.A801CR is currently listed at $26,000 USD, which is more or less in the ballpark with other members of the constantly growing family. Whether it’s a way too expensive, or a great value for money is for you to decide.
Photos: Audemars Piguet
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Vintage Safari (Ref. 26470ST.OO.A801CR) specification
Price: $26,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber AP 3126 with Soprod chronograph module, in-house, 365 parts, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 59
Movement frequency: 21,600 vph
Power reserve: 55 hours
Movement decoration: 22-karat gold oscillating weight, decorated with the Audemars and Piguet family crests
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Case and Bezel: Stainless steel
Crown: Black ceramic
Size: 42.00 mm
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Brown leather alligator strap with cream stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective