It's hard to think of another watch that is such an icon to sailors as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore, introduced into the market in 1993. That timepiece was an upgrade from the original AP Royal Oak that was created more than two decades before in hopes of creating the brand's image as an "extreme sports watch." And it worked.
Now, AP has launched the Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix Collection that clearly makes the company land based again and at, or near, the finishing line for racetrack watches. Although it is not affiliated with Ferrari, its red and black colors presumably have taken inspiration from the Italian racing legend. In fact, the entry model, with its heavy reliance on black carbon, red paint and stitched black leather, reminds me of the interior and dashboard of a friend's 599 Ferrari. I wonder what Panerai-the official watch partner with Ferrari-has to say about the AP Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix Collection.
The AP watch is a step beyond the Panerai in styling, with a bolder, more masculine look. In the carbon-fiber model, its forged case combines with a bezel of the same material in the upper part and black ceramics in the lower to create a look and feel that is right for anything from Formula One to drag races. Even the movie Fast and Furious comes to mind.
What's under the hood is as impressive as the look. The Grand Prix Royal Oak Offshore is powered by a self-winding movement called the Calibre 3126. The precision movement is integrated with a chronograph mechanism, which ensures perfect timing capability at the track. The system includes a 60-hour power reserve.
The watch comes in three renditions-carbon fiber, rose gold, and platinum-all of which are limited production (1,750 carbon fiber pieces, 650 rose gold and 75 platinum). Suggested U.S. retail prices are: $34,500, $56,300 and $94,300, respectively.
One of the most impressive things about the watch is its lightness. It weighs a mere 120 grams, or less than five ounces. Considering its big and bold style with a 44-millimeter case, the watch is remarkably light thanks to the forged carbon the watchmaker uses. But lightweight design is what makes the difference on the racetrack, even more so than in a regatta, as AP seems to know.