Audemars Piguet Celebrates its 135th Anniversary and Launches a New Royal Oak Offshore

Audemars Piguet Japan held the brand’s 135th anniversary and new product launch party in the “Choice!” restaurant on the third floor of Tokyo’s prestigious Ark Mori building. The event was attended by 500 guests including VIPs, celebrities and media. The evening included the launch of a new Royal Oak Offshore limited edition.

Mr. Go Mugino, Chief Executive Officer of Audemars Piguet Japan, introduced the evening’s first “special guests”: brand founders Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet appeared in a hologram to greet attendees. Through the wonders of technology, they talked about the history of AP and the watch industry in general, and how things have changed since the time they first started. Historical watches representing 135 years of history were on display around them.

The next and most special guest, representing the brand’s newly released quality swiss replica watches model, was Formula 1 racing ace Jarno Trulli, who has been has been serving as Audemars Piguet ambassador since 2008. Trulli is to compete in the Japanese Grand Prix on October 8th, wearing a helmet sporting a picture of the “Royal Oak Offshore Jarno Trulli” Chronograph. This new model, issued in a worldwide limited edition of 500, available as of October 6th from the Audemars Piguet Boutique located in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping precinct, will initially be launched exclusively in Japan. The model will be available internationally by the end of the year.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph Set to Debut in Hong Kong

The first Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph watch, which featured a hand-wound movement and a groundbreaking case made of forged carbon and ceramics, had watch-world tongues wagging in its debut year 2010. This year, at the upcoming Watches and Wonders watch fair in Hong Kong, AP launches the next generation, with a brand-new automatic movement.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph is the latest ultra-complicated interpretation of the Royal Oak Offshore, which debuted in 1993. The sporty Offshore was itself an evolution of the original (and now-iconic) Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the octagonal-bezel luxury sports watch that burst on the wristwatch scene in 1972. The new timepiece, which will be a limited, numbered edition of just 50 pieces, uses modern materials for its all-black, 44-mm case: forged carbon for the case middle, ceramic for the octagonal Royal Oak bezel, titanium and ceramic for the chronograph push-pieces, and rubber for the strap. The caseback features a sapphire window through which the watch’s movement can be viewed.

The Royal Oak Offshore Seflfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph is powered by Audemars Piguet’s new Caliber 2897, which is comprised of 335 parts, including 34 jewels. Boasting a high-frequency balance (21,600 vph) and a power reserve of approximately 65 hours, the movement is notable for its peripheral winding rotor, made of satin-brushed 950 platinum and mounted on ball bearings. This design shifts the mass of the rotor to the outer edge of the movement to improve the winding efficiency. This positioning of the rotor, which rotates a full 180 degrees, also helps to reduce the thickness of the movement (just 8.32 mm) and hence, makes for a slimmer profile for the overall watch (14 mm).

Caliber 2897, developed and built entirely in-house at Audemars Piguet’s manufacture in the Swiss village of Le Brassus, incorporates both a tourbillon and a column-wheel chronograph mechanism. It features numerous high-horology finishes, including beveled, polished, and chamfered components, and traditional Vallee de Joux watchmaking touches, such as rounded bridges, an S-shaped coupling yoke, a curved minute-counter bridge, and characteristic toothing on the column wheel. The tourbillon carriage, which takes a master watchmaker nearly three days to assemble, is made up of 85 parts and weighs a minuscule .45 grams; the tourbillon bridge is made of blackened titanium. The chronograph is equipped with a specially developed coupling yoke mechanism that eliminates the jerkiness of the chronograph hand that can occur when a user activates it with the “start” pusher. Audemars Piguet also added a shock-resisting hook to this hand-assembled chronograph mechanism — which, thanks to the peripheral rotor, is on display through the sapphire caseback.

The watch’s black ceramic bezel features the eight polished steel hexagonal screws that are a hallmark of all Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore watches. The case middle — like that of the manual-wind version of the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph — is constructed of forged carbon, an aerospace-industry material first applied to watchmaking by Audemars Piguet back in 2007. The ceramic/titanium chrono pushers are set within separate titanium guards, secured to the case by four visible screws. The black dial has the “Mega Tapisserie” motif common to Royal Oak watches and features an aperture at 6 o’clock for the tourbillon. Small seconds are on a subdial at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph counter is at 3 o’clock. The central sweep-seconds hand ticks off the chronograph minutes on an inner sapphire ring with a 60-minute scale.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs for 2014

Along with headline-grabbers like its new Royal Oak Concept watch and Millenary Minute Repeater, the other big debut from Audemars Piguet at this year’s was a set of six all-new watches in its Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph collection, which features some contemporary design updates for 2014.

The “26470” family of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs maintains the case diameter of 42 mm — considered enormous when the Offshore, the more “masculine” successor to the original, smaller Royal Oak watch, was launched in 1993 — but adds some modern aesthetic touches for today’s luxury-sport-watch aficionado.

The case’s crown, chronograph push-pieces, and push-piece guards have been slightly redesigned and resized; the rubber used for the crown and push-pieces of the earlier “26170” Royal Oak Offshore watches has been replaced in the new “26470” models with black ceramic. The dial’s Arabic numeral hour markers have a more sculpted look, with polished fillet borders; the subdials and round date window are also surrounded by polished borders. The new hands are faceted and have a luminescent coating. The colors of the date disks matches those of the dials for greater uniformity.

Of course, the Royal Oak Offshore DNA is still clearly evident: the hexagonal bezel (in satin-brushed and polished steel or rose gold) secured by eight polished steel hexagonal screws; the waffle-like “Mega Tapisserie” pattern on the dial that helps enhance its depth; and the applied Audemars Piguet “AP” initials in white or rose gold directly above a white transfer brand logo on a raised cartouche.

The straps of the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore chronographs, in rubber or alligator leather, have a broader taper and a new, user-friendly pin buckle. Perhaps most importantly for high-horology fans, the watches are also equipped with sapphire casebacks through which they can view the movement, AP Caliber 3126/3840, an automatic with a 55-hour power reserve. Scroll down to see all of the 2014 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs, which are available now at retail.