Audemars Piguet celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore this year, so no prizes for guessing the focus of the novelties for SIHH 2018. True to form, however, the manufacture did have some surprises – and hints – that weren’t quite expected.
First, the Offshore.
Fans of the collection will be pleased, as a wide range of new models and references have been unveiled. There are the usual line extensions, of course, including a Royal Oak Offshore Self-Winding Chronograph in military garb that comes complete with a camouflage pattern strap.
The star this year, however, is a reissue of the first Royal Oak Offshore that started it all in 1993. Cased in steel with a rubber crown and pushers, the matching blue dial sports Audemars Piguet’s Petite Tapisserie guilloche pattern, just like the original.
To reflect 25 years of advancements in movement design and production, the new timepiece will be equipped with the relatively modern Calibre 3126/3840.
The breakthrough here involves combining previously discrete components into new ones that fulfilled multiple functions.
As Chadi Gruber, Audemars Piguet’s head of products, puts it, the new movement architecture is essentially “compressing a three-storey house into a single storey, but keeping all the furniture intact”.
Women haven’t been forgotten too. Ladies can look forward to the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon, which melds high jewellery with high watchmaking.
The former is seen in the watch’s case, buckle, and dial, which have been paved with either baguette- or brilliant-cut diamonds depending on the reference. Meanwhile, watchmaking content comes in the form of the flying tourbillon at six o’clock. The jagged, angular shapes that dominate the watch are a far cry from archetypal high jewellery, but Audemars Piguet has always had a knack for creating hits out of left field. “This is what we do”, says Gruber,“we look at what the competition does, and we think of what we can offer that’s completely different, yet will be loved by our clients. They don’t necessarily know that they want it until they’ve seen it, but they will when we show them.”
And finally, the hint mentioned earlier – according to CEO François-Henry Bennahmias, an entirely new collection is set to be unveiled next year, most probably at SIHH 2019.
Images courtesy of Audemars Piguet and Dr Kenny Pang