Beauty in the Beast — the Royal Oak Offshore

The Rake takes a closer look at the Royal Oak Offshore.

When it was first released in 1993, the Royal Oak Offshore was called The Beast. A bold and seemingly brutish take on its famous older sibling, the Offshore seemed destined to live up to its name. But it didn’t take long for people to find beauty in the beast. By the 2000s the Offshore had found its place in the world — comfortably strapped onto the wrists of superstars like Schwarzenegger and rap superstars like Jay-Z.

In the Offshore, Audemars Piguet found they had a perfectly versatile platform for experimentation and collaboration, and very quickly we started seeing limited edition Offshores linked to everything from movies (End of Days), boy bands (N*Sync), motorsports and more. Here’s the larger than life rise to success of the mighty Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore.

    The Roots: The 1972 Royal Oak

    It is impossible to discuss the modern day icon that is the Royal Oak Offshore without first detailing the genesis of the original 1972 Royal Oak, famously created by designer Gerald Genta. There are two stories about how he came up with the idea of the unique eight-sided bezel and tripartite construction of this timepiece. The first was that he was inspired by the octagonal portholes of the HMS Royal Oak, the British Navy’s first armored vessel, and decided to base the bezel on this design. This was later corrected in Revolution magazine’s interview with AP CEO Francois Bennahmias who explained, “Mr Genta’s widow told me that Gerald was inspired by a diver he saw by the side of lake Geneva, specifically the way his diving helmet was screwed to his suit.”

    Regardless of which story you connect with the Royal Oak’s eight-sided bezel and exposed screw design, it has become one of the most recognizable in modern luxury. Says Bennahmias, “The thing about the Royal Oak is it is unmistakable from across the room.” But underlying the aesthetics was a function — the construction of the Royal Oak case was such that both the screws and the bezel are integral elements to the case structure. The entire watch was sealed from the back using flat nuts that were attached to the screws that run through the case — like load-bearing pillars in a house.


    October 2021


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