You may have noticed a lot of Offshores recently, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s the 30th Anniversary of this oversized beast of a lineup. As a fitting salute to the original, Audemars Piguet’s has announced the first ever audemars piguet royal oak offshore 43mm ceramic in black ceramic with matching ceramic bracelet, the new Selfwinding Chronograph ref. 26238C – now badder and bolder than ever.
This burly (42mm wide, 15.4mm thick) watch pulls from the greatest hits of AP’s Offshores from the last 30 years but in never-before-seen combinations. In addition to the new inclusion of a black ceramic bracelet, you’ll notice a Petite Tapisserie dial pattern previously reserved for the ref. 26238 Selfwinding Chronograph models in gold or titanium.
This is also the first completely monochrome dial, which audemars piguet royal oak offshore 43mm ceramic has said was difficult to achieve because of the different textures and materials used. The dial is then punched up in legibility with white hands and accents for contrast, with white Arabic numerals for the subdials and tachymeter on the rehaut.
While AP has used ceramic many times before, it’s still not easy to execute, especially when it comes to getting the mix of polished and satin-finished surfaces to come together.
Inside the watch is the Calibre 4404, a column-wheel flyback chronograph, activated by ceramic pushers. The layout of the subdials remains the same as historical watches, with a subtle update made in 2021 that puts the hours at the top so the chronograph can be read in order of hours, minutes, and seconds from top to bottom. The movement has the expected Cotês de Genève, circular graining, polished bevels, and other finishing we’ve come to expect from audemars piguet royal oak offshore 43mm ceramic , with a 22-karat pink gold oscillating weight.
Ever feel like apocalypse is nigh? Hey, lately we all do. And, let’s be honest, there’s no better watch for that occasion than a murdered-out, tough-as-nails, futuristically designed ceramic Offshore. It’s the unofficial watch of fighting off the impending robot takeover. It’s remarkable that for all the materials that AP has used for its Offshores, from titanium to forged carbon, this is the first time they’ve made an Offshore in ceramic with a matching ceramic bracelet. There’s probably not a single brand better associated with the material than AP. Examples include myriad of perpetual calender Royal Oaks to their ladies’ models and everything in between (and wild experiments off to the side, like my favorite Royal Oak Offshore Grande Complication and the awesome Carolina Bucci). While no one owns the material, AP comes darn close. To my eye it drifts closer to traditional Royal Oak stylings. But look closely and you’ll find nice monochromatic touches which signal that signal still is an Offshore – without screaming it like some comic-y pieces in the past.
You get the iconic six/nine/12 subdial layout that goes with the column-wheel flyback chronograph powered by the Calibre 4404. The iconic little bubble window at three o’clock still tells you the date, great for keeping track of how many days it’s been since the robots took over. Of course, the Offshore crown guards are there too.
My biggest concern is that by taking the styling cues and bracelet from the main line of Royal Oaks, the choice to eschew the bright pops of colors and oversized numbers that the Offshore is often known for may start to blur lines a bit too much. But as you go back to punching demons or wrestling Matrix-style cyborgs or whatever it is you’re meant to do with an audemars piguet royal oak offshore 43mm ceramic , I doubt you’ll be worrying too much about whether your watch bracelet is a bit derivative. You’ll just look cool.