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ROYAL OAK OFFSHORE SELFWINDINGTOURBILLON CHRONOGRAPH
The Royal Oak Offshore, launched in 1993, captured some of the design language of Gérald Genta’s Royal Oak watch of 1972 and has always been an overtly masculine timepiece. Larger in stature and more conspicuous in character, the Royal Oak Offshore has been offered in numerous variants, including über-complicated tourbillons. Indeed, this complication has been masterfully employed within several iterations of the Royal Oak Offshore over the years.
In the latter half of 2014, Audemars Piguet showcased the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph for the very first time at Watches and Wonders in Hong Kong.
Where this particular watch treads on virgin snow is in the way the oscillating mass follows a circular trajectory encircling the dial. Audemars Piguet refers to this ingenious rotor as a “peripheral oscillating weight.” By locating the oscillating mass around the edge of the movement the watch’s efficiency is heightened, as is the winding speed. Moreover, by placing the mass around the circumference of the dial, Audemars Piguet mitigates the height of the case. While this timepiece could not be described as ultra-thin, it remains impressive at 14mm considering the complexity of the movement. A few months ago, I had the good fortune to place the watch on my wrist and explore its interesting composition.
The black dial features the Méga Tapisserie motif, an attractive pattern that has become part of the company’s genetic makeup.
The hour and minute hands have truncated tips and are lined with luminescent coating. A central chronograph seconds hand features an elongated tip stretching outwards towards the chapter ring. The counterweight of the central chronograph hand emulates the profile of the hour and minute hands, providing a welcome cohesion to the aesthetics. A 30-minute chronograph counter is positioned adjacent the crown. The register blends snailed detail with white and red hues. The scale of this subdial is comparatively compact when contrasted with the small seconds display positioned opposite.
In the southern hemisphere of the dial, the tourbillon carriage sits resplendently. It exudes an air of modernity, courtesy of its blackened, titanium tourbillon bridge. Beneath this bridge, a screwed balance wheel can be seen.
The tourbillon carriage sports three mirror-polished arms, which exquisitely sparkle in ambient light. Flathead screws feature on each arm with chamfered rims and slots. In the northeasterly portion of the dial, part of the movement can be seen with an arc-shaped, satin-brushed bridge spanning a circular grained wheel.
The chapter ring is sapphire crystal and reveals the platinum peripheral oscillating weight, which revolves beneath. Audemars Piguet has recognized that watch enthusiasts enjoy the connection between the aesthetics of a watch and the magical allure of the movement parts. Indeed, I would liken this to those with a passion for haute cuisine who enjoy partaking in a meal within the kitchen of a fine restaurant to observe their culinary dishes coming to life.
It would be very logical to assume that this elevated example of watchmaking would be housed in a case made of a suitably noble metal. However, Audemars Piguet has always sought to “break the rules” and this watch proves to be no exception.
The case of the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph is 44mm in diameter and constructed of forged carbon. Its surface is smooth, but delightfully features pockets of gray and black tones, harmoniously fused into an eye-catching mélange.
The Swiss maison has been very creative in its choice of materials, employing black ceramic on the bezel, crown and pushpieces. The neighboring pushpiece guards are made of titanium. The selection of materials provides an avant-garde aesthetic.
However, modernity has not come at the expense of style, with each element living in harmonious splendor. Augmenting the appearance of the watch and like all other Royal Oak Offshore timepieces, eight screw heads adorn the bezel.
The Caliber 2897 consists of 335 parts and represents a technical tourde- force. The tourbillon carriage alone features eighty-five parts and has a feather-light mass of only 0.45 grams. This helps mitigate energy consumption, helping the watch deliver a minimum power reserve of sixty-five hours.
The frequency of the balance is a rather traditional 3Hz and provides a clue to the classical approach adopted in creating this movement. Most notably, when observing the movement via the exhibition caseback, inquisitive eyes are rewarded with hand-decorated parts. The wheels are circular grained, perfectly executed perlage populates the mainplate and the bridges are bead blasted with hand-drawn bevels.
The chronograph is of the coveted column-wheel variety, conferring stutter-free actuation and a silky smooth action to the pushpieces.
This movement harnesses the know-how of a company that has been at the forefront of watchmaking for 140 years. It employs time-served practices and respects traditions, but sets aside convention when it considers this to be beneficial to its clientele.
This is A personable horological ensemble. The successful match of materials enhances the chiseled features of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph.
In some instances, watch companies strive to create a breathtakingly fresh and modern design but in so doing, create a confusing and difficultto- read display. No such allegations can be leveled at Audemars Piguet. The Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph is both novel and highly legible.
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DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
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