Last year, Audemars Piguet celebrated the 50th anniversary of their most iconic model, the Royal Oak – and they did so in style. But 2023 marks another crucial anniversary for the ‘Holy Trinity’ brand: it’s the 30th anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore, the Royal Oak’s outlandish, wild younger sibling… And just as it’s the role of the older sibling to be reliable; the good role model; the responsible one – it’s the role of the younger sibling to go out and act up.
That’s exactly what AP has done with the Offshore over the years. Not only was the Offshore itself rebellious, disruptive Swiss 1:1 replica watches when it was released in 1993, but in the years since AP has used the Offshore line to experiment and create some of their boldest creations ever: experimenting with new materials, sizes and aesthetics. Earlier this year, Andrew sat down with Raphaël Balestra, Heritage and Archives Manager of Audemars Piguet, to discuss all things Royal Oak Offshore – its genesis, role within the catalogue, and the crazy places it’s been – and their chat is an absolute must-watch for any Royal Oak Offshore (or just AP) fan.
While Raphaël and Andrew had the chance to play with quite a few Offshore models, there are five main ways in which AP have “played it differently” with the AAA fake Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore watches, as Andrew puts it: let’s focus on those broad brushstrokes and see what each tell us about the history of this sometimes misunderstood sibling of the famous Royal Oak.
The art of excess
The inaugural Royal Oak Offshore, the ref. 25721ST (better known as “The Beast), was from the outset truly excessive top UK replica watches. Not only was it massive for the time – 42 mm in and 14.05 mm thick – it was also twice the price of a classic Royal Oak. It was also outrageous, with its use of rubber for its chronograph pushers and its external gasket, as well as the way Emmanuel Gueit impertinently remixed Gérald Genta’s classic Royal Oak design.
But even more excessive than the ref. 25721ST is the ref. 25721BC, which is made from white gold. Jean-Claude Biver once described it as “truly the absolute epitome of excess in watchmaking”, and that’s for one simple reason: it weighs 430 grams, which is double the weight of the steel version. Nearly half a kilo of watch on your wrist! As Andrew puts it, “in a world of flexing, this is the ultimate flex”.
An even heavier platinum model exists, but Raphaël explains that it’s only a few grams heavier, and platinum isn’t quite as malleable as white gold – making the white gold ref. 25721BC particularly decadent. Only 21 white gold “Beasts” were ever made, making it an unusually rare watch.
Painting the rainbow
Raphaël and Andrew discuss how Audemars Piguet’s decision in 1996 to release the Royal Oak Offshore in a wide variety of sizes and bold colours was a particularly potent example of how AP pushed boundaries with the Offshore. “We now take this for granted,” Andrew points out. “At this point, for luxury watches of this kind to be in a profusion of colours and sizes was [unheard of]”.
Raphaël shares how the AP booth and its display of colourful Offshores became an unexpected highlight of BASEL 96, with the bright candy colours proving to be a hit among young attendees – a testament to the Offshore’s status as AP’s most youthful of high quality fake watches.
He also points out how significant the “Baby Beast” ref. 77151ST was, explaining how the Royal Oak Offshore going from a single-watch collection where the perfect super clone watches was 42mm to introducing a feminine-positioned 30mm model was an unbelievably dramatic move. I’d add that it was interesting that AP decided to introduce a smaller, feminine version of such an aggressive, sporty watch – a move that’s both egalitarian, bold and bizarro all at once.
Pioneering celebrity collaborations
AP was one of the first luxury watchmakers to take celebrity collaborations seriously – in no small part thanks to the initiative of now-outgoing CEO François-Henry Bennahmias, who was managing director of Audemars Piguet North America from 1999 to 2012. Bennahmias cultivated relationships with stars like Shaquille O’Neal, Jay-Z, Michael Schumacher and Arnold Schwarzenegger, understanding how potent star power could be for the formerly stuffy Swiss watchmaker.
One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature models is one of the most outlandish luxury replica watches AP has ever made: the Royal Oak Offshore T3 ref. 25863TI, made for the release of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. At a whopping 48mm in diameter and featuring unusual chronograph pusher/crown guards, it’s a world away from the dressiness of a Royal Oak “Jumbo”. Raphaël even showed off an iced-out, even wackier version of the T3, the ref. 26215BC, for his chat with Andrew – which might be the least subtle watch ever made…
The Offshore as AP’s home of innovation
Another model that emphasises how innovative the Royal Oak Offshore line has been over the years is the Swiss movements fake Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Team ref. 26062PT watches, which not only introduced AP’s first regatta countdown chronograph but also featured a forged carbon bezel – another first for the brand – which they combined with a luxurious platinum case. AP would go on to create fully forged carbon-cased Offshores, including the mental ref. 26267FS, which combined a forged carbon case with a diamond-paved ceramic bezel. Bonkers stuff.
Andrew also got a rare look at the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25th Anniversary ref. 26421 copy watches for men. Released in 2018, Raphaël explains that this futuristic model – which features a unique openworked construction and sapphire that extends over the Offshore’s iconic bezel screws – is “what the Offshore could have been, and could be”. It’s also a sort of baton-pass to the Royal Oak Concept. That collection, launched in 2002, goes even further when it comes to innovation and reimagining the Royal Oak – and the Offshore walked so that the Concept line could run.
Bonus: the “Andrew watch”
By this stage, I really hope you’ve watched the video, but if you haven’t yet, there’s one more replica watches wholesale we need to talk about: the ref. 25940OK, which features an incongruous combination of a rose gold case and wholly rubber bezel, which Andrew admits is what the young Andrew would wear “if I was successful, if I had any money, if I worked out more at the gym” (he’s definitely jacked enough these days to justify it, I reckon).