Plot Twist

Audemars Piguet’s Offshore watch was so bold it took a while to find acceptance. But in 1999 Arnold Schwarzenegger created a special version to celebrate his movie End of Days, and the Offshore suddenly went mainstream. Nearly 25 years later, the brand’s new range is just as fearless.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

Unisex’ might be today’s buzzword in the watch industry, but it was a different story at Audemars Piguet in 1989, when the Managing Director, Stephen Urquhart, tasked a 22-year-old designer called Emmanuel Gueit with secretly revamping the Royal Oak ahead of its 20th birthday. The steel sports watch created in 1972 by Gérald Genta had by then become a cornerstone of the Audemars Piguet line-up and been endowed with ‘sacred’ status, so anyone who tinkered with it would do so at their potential peril. But once Gueit grasped the nettle, he found himself inspired in part by the trend among women of wearing watches designed for men, as watches were often small enough for unisex use. In the same rebellious spirit as the original, Gueit decided to go against that grain: he would take the machismo associated with Hollywood and advertising, and supersize the Royal Oak.


Simon de Burton


August 2023


Also read