When it comes to Audemars Piguet, the first thing that most likely will come to your mind is the octagonal bezel of the Royal Oak. It was launched in 1972 and pioneered as the first-ever luxury steel sports watch. It did not have a great start and was thought by many watch enthusiasts to be the downfall of AP as a watch brand as it broke many of the watchmaking stylistic practices of the time and was released during the watch industry quartz crisis. However, the Royal Oak withstood the test of time and became an icon in watchmaking history.
The birth of Royal Oak Offshore Ref. 2572
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet decided to create something different, but keep the same DNA for the already loved model. So in 1989 AP assigned Emmanuel Gueit to create a new design that would attract a younger and sportier audience, and in 1993 the Royal Oak Offshore was released. It kept the spirit of the Royal Oak, but had features that were more appealing for active and adventure-seeking collectors that wanted to push boundaries and take their watch to new limits.
Let’s dive into their differences.
Royal Oak Offshore came a bit larger than the Royal Oak. The Offshore case is 42mm in diameter, 1 mm bigger than the original 41mm Royal Oak with the case thickness of the Offshore also larger, at 14.90mm thick compared to the Royal Oak’s 10.88mm, to allow extra room for the Offshore’s added rubber gasket lining between the bezel and the case.. The size difference between the two makes the Royal Oak more classic, in contrast with the sportier and more “muscular” looking Offshore. This is why it earned the nickname “The Beast”.
One of the easiest ways to differentiate the models is the dial tapisserie, although, in a similar pattern, it has a noticeable size difference. Understanding the tapisserie types will now only allow you to distinguish the Royal Oak from the Offshore, but also from vintage Royal Oak models. In the very beginning, AP contracted a famous dial manufacturer company called “STERN Creations”, which later acquired the “Patek Philippe”. The pattern on the Royal Oak dials manufactured by them is known as “Petite Tapisserie”, until in Audemars Piguet started producing the dials in-house, creating a larger pattern called “Grande Tapisserie” dial with larger squares, by at least 50%. In addition, Grande Tapisserie has a flat area where the Audemars Piguet brand name is imprinted on.
The Royal Oak Offshore features an even larger dial pattern, called “Mega Tapisserie”, which is also stamped, not guillochéd. There are rare exceptions, but you will find the Mega Tapisserie dial on the majority of the Royal Oak Offshore Dials, including the Themes, Safari, Diver, Bumblebee, and Rubber Clad models.
The Royal Oak and Offshore are each powered by different movements with different positioning of the chronograph counters. The Royal Oak’s chronograph sub-dials are located at 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 o’clock positions, while the Offshore’s chronograph sub-dials are placed at 6:00, 9:00 and 12:00 o’clock. However, the subdial configuration changes on smaller Offshore Chronographs(e.g. 37mm) and on those with extra functions.
The date window location is different as well: the date on the Royal Oak Chronograph is located between 4:00 and 5:00 and on the Offshore Chronograph, the date window is at 3:00 with a cyclops lens.
The Royal Oak Chronograph’s pushers stand out from the case, but on the Offshore Chronograph, the pushers feature push-piece guards.
Noticeable, the Offshore also features a tachymeter along its rehaut, thicker hands with more lume and a transparent sapphire caseback which was later used in several Royal Oak models, but originated from the Offshore. These design changes ensured the Offshore is more water-resistant and durable than the Royal Oak could be. The Offshore’s steel bracelet links are more curved to give it a better fit on the first to ensure comfort in any situation.
Overall, both the replica Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the replica Royal Oak Offshore are premium watches that are known for their style and quality. Whether you prefer a larger model with additional features or a smaller classic design, there is bound to be something in Audemars Piguet’s lineup that is right for you!