Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore watches: new additions to the Royal Oak Offshore family for 2014 encompass a choice of precious metals and materials

The world’s best luxury sports watch, Audemars Piguet’s Gerald Genta Royal Oak, is barely 40 years old and continues to go from strength to strength.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore chronograph watch in pink gold with a 'Méga Tapisserie' pattern dial and pink gold bracelet (£50,400).

By Ken Kessler in London

How enlightening it would be to turn back the clock to 1972, when Audemars Piguet and legendary watch designer Gerald Genta were creating the Royal Oak watch. Were they at all anxious about launching a timepiece that would become not just a new genre but possibly the defining genre of the post-quartz era? Who, in the ultra-conservative Swiss watch culture, would gamble with something so radical, and with such insouciance? 

Switzerland's watch industry was, in the early 1970s, on the brink of a catastrophe now referred to as "the Quartz Crisis". It would decimate the watch industry based, as it was, on costly mechanical movements. But Audemars Piguet couldn't have known that it was working with such a calamity lurking in the wings. The revered house's concept watch would contain a mechanical movement in an almost comically robust stainless steel case, inspired by the hermetic sealing of a ship's port. But, and here's the catch, it would be sold as a luxury watch.

Beefy, macho timepieces already existed, like Rolex's diving models. But back in 1972 they were considered timepieces for professionals, not chic evening attire, despite being offered in "dressy" gold. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch, by accident or design, addressed two seemingly incompatible markets: a timepiece that would survive the golf course, a yachting regatta or a chukka but which possessed such style and elegance that it could nestle beneath a white shirt cuff and dinner jacket.

Read about Audemars Piguet on our list of top five iconic watches

It was a sensation, inspiring the Patek Philippe Nautilus watch and models from brands as disparate as Vacheron Constantin, IWC and Cartier, while readying the world for Panerai and all of the other wrist-challenging über-watches that are now the norm.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has maintained its position at the pinnacle of the luxe-sports-watch hierarchy for over 40 years by evolving from the near-Bauhaus simplicity of the original to the macho Royal Oak Offshore, as favoured by Arnold Schwarzenegger. This year, Audemars Piguet presented a smorgasbord of Royal Oak watches, encompassing a choice of precious metals and other materials, should the original's stainless steel seem that bit too prosaic. Which would be missing the point, because the Royal Oak is to luxury watches what a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen is to limousines. For some of us, steel is the real deal.

Highlights for the season include the 26270 Evolution in the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Collection, in steel or rose gold, with satin-brushed bezel and the inimitable "waffle"-pattern dial. The stealthy all-black 42mm Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph features ceramic details and a black crocodile strap for an added touch of elegance. The all-pink-gold version on a matching link bracelet is so sumptuous that it makes the wearer feel like a certain king with an alchemist's touch. Or you could go all-white with the Offshore Diver: white ceramic case, white rubber strap, white "waffle" dial. 

There's no longer just a Royal Oak but a Royal Oak family. For watch enthusiasts who have succumbed to the lure of the high-end luxury sports watch, it's probably "the" royal family, too.


Support our Work with a Contribution of any Amount

We need your help to keep The Jewellery Editor’s independence so that we can continue to offer quality writing that’s open to everyone around the world.

It means we can give a full and varied picture of the big, wide world of jewellery and watches whether it is on our website or social media channels.

Every contribution is hugely appreciated and key to ensuring our future.

Terms and conditions

Shop this article

Our shopping list




We use our own and third party cookies to improve your experience and our services. If you continue, we consider that you accept their use. You can get more information on your website at cookies policy.