Before explaining the Royal Oak Offshore, we have to quickly go back to 1972, when Audemars Piguet replica watches UK first introduced the Royal Oak 5402ST. A watch designed by Gerald Genta, AP was audacious enough to launch a watch that was, back in the days, more than disruptive. Figure that: in the early 1970s, the idea of a luxury watch, even for Audemars, was a small, thin and gold-encased time-only watch – to the exception of a very low number of complex pieces. So when the Royal Oak came on the market, with its angular steel case, its integrated bracelet, its sporty design and its insane price, it caused quite a rumble. Yet, as bold as this move was, and even if it took some time for the market to embrace this “luxury sports watch” concept, the 5402ST became an icon that many others would follow.
A second move, two decades later, followed, still in the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak collection fake watches. In the early 1990s, the watchmaking industry was slowly recovering from the quartz crisis, and the watches produced were still quite shy and discreet. The comeback of the mechanical watch was just gathering momentum and the vast majority of the high-end watches on the market – with the exception of a few sports watches – were still classically designed and relatively small in terms of diameter. Yet, in 1993, Audemars Piguet struck again, by launching the Royal Oak Offshore. What was this watch about? A 42mm automatic chronograph, as a testosterone-fed version of the Royal Oak, built with the words “massive” and “deconstructed” in mind. At Baselworld 1993, some will probably recall that many collectors and insiders were disappointed by this novelty. Even Genta (who didn’t design this version but a certain 22 years old Emmanuel Gueit did) was shocked. Some, however, were amazed by this new concept.
What was so special about this 1993 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ref. 25721ST? First of all, it was big – some nicknamed it “the beast” – with a 42mm diameter (far away from the standards, back in the 1990s), it was thick (15mm overall), it was angular, it was heavy and in fact, even if all the iconic design elements of the Royal Oak were featured (the octagonal bezel, the 8 hexagonal screws, the raised bezel, the guilloche dial, the integrated bracelet, the overall shape of the case), the Offshore felt completely new and disruptive. It took the Royal Oak design and “deconstructed” it, by making highly visible the gasket between the case and the bezel for instance. It was also bringing a new concept, where new materials (in this case, rubber) were mixed with metals. And if it took some time for collectors to accept this watch, it properly created a segment… and again, many followed.