- By Tiffany To
The story of the Royal Oak is well known, so much that it has become a legend in itself and barely needs any introduction. Launched in 1972, reference 5402ST was the most expensive stainless steel wristwatch ever produced on the market, so much that it outpriced many of its gold time-only counterparts from other manufacturers. At the time, it was sacrilegious and daring, not only in its retail price, but also its looks – from the integrated bracelet, to the tapisserie dial and even the contrasting polished and brushed finishes of the case. Today it is undoubtedly an icon and a model that has changed the course of the sports watch category.
There has been much fanfare around the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak, with journals, magazines and social media mavens writing breathlessly about the newest and greatest releases. Yet, lesser focus has been given to its sibling, the heftier and some may even argue – cooler – Royal Oak Offshore. Launched originally in 1993 with the reference 25721ST, it is a canvas for the ever-daring Audemars Piguet to experiment its creativity – an in depth history and classification of the model by my colleague Arthur Touchot can be found here .
While originally launched in stainless steel, Audemars Piguet has reinvented this model in a number of case materials and dial combinations. If the Royal Oak was the suave, elegant patriarch of the family, the Royal Offshore would be its irreverent and bold sibling – one who walks slightly off the path and forges his own identity. Indeed, one could even argue that the Royal Oak offshore brings even more cultural impact than the Royal Oak. Audemars Piguet has collaborated with a number of cultural icons to create their version of the model to fit various lifestyles – from Jay Z, to Michael Schumacher and even Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Offshore has reflected the tastes and visions of luminaries of our time. It constantly reinvents itself, and can be used in all lifestyle activities, whether it be for golfing, race car driving or even diving.
Given the media fixation on the anniversary of the Royal Oak, the Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo team thought that it would be only fitting to include some premium examples the Royal Oak Offshore in Geneva Watch Auction XV, if not just to urge the collecting community at large that there exists a treasure trove of horological pleasure beyond just the time-only Royal Oak.
A highly rare, impressively well-preserved and attractive yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with blue dial, date and bracelet
The present example of “The Beast” is without a doubt one of the most commanding Audemars Piguet watches ever made. Heavy and eye-catching, it is cased in yellow gold and displays a striking royal blue dial. Exclusive, opulent and brazen, the present Offshore displays the unapologetic philosophy in which the original Beast was designed. Furthermore, this particular example is preserved in particularly impressive condition. It has very crisp case, showcasing all the finishes Audemars Piguet is particularly known for. All the hallmarks are visible and deep, and the bracelet displays hardly any signs of aging.
A highly rare and attractive titanium chronograph wristwatch with “tropical” dial, bracelet, certificate of origin and presentation box
The present “E Series” is cased in titanium and features a beautiful dial that has turned brown over the years. This “tropical” effect is completely astonishing, and the brown tone is incredibly attractive. There is no telling how a watch will turn in tone over time, and this particular example has aged in a stunning manner. As an added detail, it is accompanied by its Certificate of Origin, presentation box adding another layer of collectibility. Most interestingly, the original owner was incredibly close to Audemars Piguet, and bought the timepiece directly from the manufacture and not a boutique, which explains the blank guarantee - in fact, the internal Audemars Piguet archives note that the watch was sold directly to this individual client
An incredibly rare and attractive stainless steel and yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with bracelet and box
With its steel case and yellow gold bezel the present Royal Oak Offshore is one of the rarest variants ever produced, with only a handful of examples having ever appeared on the market.
The oxidation on the bezel gives an impression of a tortoise shell, and delivers a most unusual and pleasing effect. In overall excellent condition, the present Offshore is a must have due to its ultimate rarity and unusual looks.