When You Start To Realize You Love The Royal Oak Offshore 44mm
The Royal Oak Offshore has been incredibly popular since its introduction in 1993. At some point — seems like ages ago — almost everyone neglected the regular Royal Oak, including the 15202, and went completely mad on all the Offshore variation. The Safari themed Offshore was everywhere, for example. Today, I’ll take a look at the Royal Oak Offshore 44mm chronographs.
For a long time, I neglected the Royal Oak Offshore. Too loud, too flashy, too much everything, basically. That changed when we visited one of the biggest Royal Oak Offshore collectors in The Netherlands in 2018 and did this long report on the original Royal Oak Offshore, also known as ‘The Beast’. If you haven’t read it, you should.
Playing around with those Royal Oak Offshore watches, I realized this watch is a classic too. And that they actually still look good, even those very first 1993 models. When Audemars Piguet gave us a call that they had some new Royal Oak Offshore models in, we didn’t have to think long. Let’s have a look at them.
Royal Oak Offshore 44mm
We had the opportunity to go hands-on with the Royal Oak Offshore 44mm in three variations. The bi-color ROO Chronograph with reference 26405NR.OO.A002CA.01, the green ROO Chronograph with reference 26405CE.OO.A056CA.01, and the ROO Chronograph in blue, with reference 26405CE.OO.A030CA.01. My eye was drawn to the Royal Oak Offshore 44mm with a touch of gold, of course. Aside from aesthetics, these three Royal Oak Offshore 44mm chronographs have the same technical specifications.
It basically boils down to a preference for colors, and use of materials. When gold is not for you, Audemars Piguet offers a plethora of variations of the Royal Oak Offshore 44mm. Some models in the catalog even include a colorful rubber camouflage strap. As for materials, besides gold, there are variations in steel and ceramic. We have three black ceramic versions for our hands-on review. One in green, one in blue, and one with 18ct pink gold. All have the same 44mm diameter case, which measures 14.4mm in height.
As you can see in the picture above, the Royal Oak Offshore 44mm is quite different from the monobloc case the Royal Oak once was. It consists of multiple layers. A ceramic bezel, rubber seal, ceramic mid-case, titanium push-piece guards, and a titanium case back. And two sapphire crystals, of course. The Royal Oak Offshore 44mm 26405NR has a pink gold case back, with sapphire. All versions have a rubber strap with the textile motif. A stiff looking but rather comfortable strap.
Caliber 3126 / 3840
I used to have a Royal Oak Chronograph about 10 years ago, it was powered by caliber 2385. It is still used for some of the chronograph models, and it is based on an F. Piguet movement. This Royal Oak Offshore has a piggyback movement, meaning it has a base caliber (3126) with a chronograph module (3840) on top. It consists of 365 parts in total and has a power reserve of 50 hours. The ticking speed of caliber 3126 / 3840 is 21600vph (~ 3 Hz).
There are two notes I’d like to make. I sound like Captain Obvious here, but AP should really stop using chronograph modules in this price category. I am not sure what is against using their chronograph caliber 4401 movement (also used in the Code 11:59), as it has more power reserve and a higher frequency. And a fly-back function, but that can be taken our (or left in).
Aesthetically speaking, there are also advantages of caliber 4401. It doesn’t have the date disc in the “basement”, so no need for a cyclops on the date. Also, the 4401 movement has a diameter of 32mm versus 29.92mm of the piggyback movement. A larger movement diameter is more pleasing when looking at the transparent case back of the Royal Oak Offshore 44mm.
Where the original Royal Oak 5402 has a subtle Clous-de-Paris on the dial, the Royal Oak Offshore always had a somewhat larger motif. But on later Royal Oak Offshore watches, it became proper large. Audemars Piguet refers to it as “mega tapisserie”. But, it suits the watch. The dial of these Royal Oak Offshore 44mm chronograph actually shows a lot of detail. Applied Arabic numerals, “mega tapisserie”, sub dials with circular grain, applied rims around the subdials, and nicely faceted hands. Even the cyclops on the date aperture fits into all of this.
Audemars Piguet refers to the dials as “smokey”. So above, you will see the smokey blue, the others being smokey green and smokey grey. It provides even more depth to the dial, on top of the “mega tapisserie” motif. I am a massive fan of the color blue, but the green and bicolor are my favorite AP Royal Oak Offshore 44mm chronographs.
Royal Oak Offshore 44mm on the wrist
I have 19cm wrists, which I wouldn’t call either small or very large, but 42mm seems to be my sweet spot. That said, I can get away with 44mm as well as you can see. More important though, is whether you feel comfortable wearing a large watch. Even with smaller wrists than mine, I think 44mm can work very well. In the end, it’s about personal preference. In any case, I found myself leaning towards the green watch a lot. I love the color on the ceramic bezel, crown, and pushers combined with the black ceramic case.
My comment on the piggyback movement is just that, a comment, and wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for me when I’d be in the market for this watch. In my previous professional life (in IT) I would call a dedicated chronograph movement a “nice to have”, and not a “must-have”. This watch is much more about aesthetics and materials than it is about the movement. And that said, the movement does look nice and despite the module not being developed in-house (but by Dubois Depraz), the base caliber is an AP manufacture movement.
Royal Oak Offshore 44mm Prices
The prices of these Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 44mm chronographs can be found on the official website. On there, the price are in Swiss Francs though (at least for us). The prices in Euro (including 21% VAT) are:
- 26405NR.OO.A002CA.01 (Pink gold/ceramic) – €46,600
- 26405CE.OO.A056CA.01 (green ceramic) -€37,900
- 26405CE.OO.A030CA.01 (blue ceramic) – €37,900
AP watches come with a five-year international warranty and all specifications can be found below.