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.