Monday, 25 August 2014

Watch On Sylvester Stallone's Wrist in Expendables 2 & 3... Richard Mille RM032 Chronograph Diver & PAM Bronzo Quick Take and Pics... Oh & The RM028

RM028 (47mm * 14.6mm... Retail US$79k) vs RM032 (50mm * 17.8mm thick... Retail US$125k) 
The RM028 feels small when held together with the RM032... The RM032 is GARGANTUAN!
for more pics of the RM032 with another kind of Italian Stallion click here LINK
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Now we all know Sly likes 'em BIG! I'm talkin about watches yuh. From Panerais in the past and now going way upmarket with the Richard Mille RM032. They all have a big watch case in common and size being relative, it kinda makes sense don't it? :) 


i won't go into the movies themselves but i would say they are switch off your mind, big guns blazing, no-brainer shoot-em ups with alot of past action heros showing off their ability to shoot & blow stuff up, pugilistic skills(kickin a$$ and takin names) and there's a fair amount of knives on display.  


Now these watches aren't my cuppa but i can see how they might appeal to folks with loadsamoney who want 'em big, brash and shouty :) declaring loudly to the world, "Look at me i have a lot of $ and i spend it however i want to" as they pull up in their supercar[lambo, ferrari, pagani, mclaren take your pick]. It is also in some ways kinda suited to the world of the Expendables(the title may be apt too). I mean, these are supposed to be divers watches after all and it always makes sense to go diving with US$100k watches ;) Some in-hand pix follow of these 
BIG Beasts and some factoids... Let's tackle the BIG one first! 

First off what it looks like on the Italian Stallion's wrist... 'Adrienne!'

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the red strap looks great on this piece actually, better than the stock black
and as we know red is great for tactical, covert mission ops :)

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time, big date, annual calendar, flyback chrono, locking mechanism for activation of chrono pushers
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oh and the running indicator on the 3 o'clock position which looks like a vent that closes and opens or pulses. it has a luxurious 2rpm rotational frequency
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What does RM say about the case? Specs:
"The RM 032 is water resistant to 300 meters (30 atmospheres), following ISO 6425 diver’s watch norms. This is achieved with a unique, curved, tripartite case design. It is complemented with a screwed crown construction and the integration of the horns in the case. The horns of each RM 032 version have screws that optimally fix the diver’s rubber strap. 
In the world of horology, the case of the RM 032 is one the most difficult to manufacture. After a 1h30- hour turning phase, this tripartite case has to undergo 830 operations planned during an 9-hour milling phase. After a 11-hour machining phase, each case has to pass a full day of quality control. The pushers and their respective components and the crown require a 10-day machining phase. Within this period, numerous water resistant tests and quality controls are carried out and also the hand brushing and polishing of the case. All of these steps are paramount to obtain ergonomic levels specific to Richard Mille watches."


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these round cases are a departure of course from the trademark tonneau cases like in the RM011 (pics of that here -> LINK) but it retains the brand DNA in looks
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the curvature of the case and the lug design actually allows it to sit pretty well on the wrist for such a large watch. the RM028 has a similar titanium word on it's side but is a bit more squeezed vs the RM032 which has some breathing space for the word. i mean 17.8mm... come on!
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look of the movement is similar to other RMs with the distinctive screws and machine aesthetic. speaking of screws, check out the 12 around the edge of the case below
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to be honest i find this flatter looking than their usual movements as it's mostly shades of grey and no purple or gold-ish lookin bits like the RM028's movement below but guess it's good that it looks a little different from that movement
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RM028 time and date on the nice red strap :)
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Movement is the same as what's in the RM10


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vaucher made RM specs with it's distinctive look
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i believe vaucher makes more than half the movements of RM's annual output with the
 higher end stuff coming out from APRP and soprod takin care of some of ladies watch movements and others

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last note on RM. it hasn't gotten bought over by Kering as they got Ulysse Nardin instead. Not sure if talks are still on so RM may be independent for some to come. On to the Italian dive watches made in Switzerland :)

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo PAM382 in Expendables 2

The PAM382 is interesting for 2 reasons: 

1) it made bronze a popular case material, in a fair number of dive/dive style watches, even though other brands had bronze watches before it came along
2) Panerai did a u-turn on not issuing more bronze cased watches by coming out with the PAM507 in 2013. read more about it here LINK
and a last interesting fact is Sly bought and gifted them to several of his co-stars(Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Terry Crews). Great gesture


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everyone's getting one of these (speakin of the Sly's cast members in expendables)
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the bronze of course changes color and develops patina with exposure to air and seawater so each watch case will look unique as they will patina, gain verdigris differently. it can be cleaned up back to clean and shiny too of course
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automatic cal p900 movement
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dial goes from light to dark green in different light
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why do i feel like going down to the gym, pumpin iron and beefcakin up? GRRRR... ok scratch that. i'll stick with the non-clock sized watches that are my taste right now :) cheers, raph

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A King Among Seikos... King Seiko 4402 8000 & A Little History

Seiko makes some of the most accurate and best mechanical watches in the world under their Grand Seiko line today. It was the same as well in the late 60s and 70s when they were makers of possibly the most accurate mechanical watches then, under Grand Seiko and their VFA~Very Fine Adjusted caliber chronometre watches. 

I don't own a Grand Seiko for several reasons but a key one is aesthetics as I am not so into it's trademark gothic fonts and certain stylings of it so don't foresee myself owning one for the time being(never say never and I am tempted by some models) but I definitely appreciate it for it's philosophy on making refined, reliable and precise luxury watches without unnecessary elaboration or decoration... "Just pure, simple and basic watchmaking raised to the level of an art form" 


And for now, I can't seem to justify their price tags seeing that there are sooo many good Seikos(both in their vintage and modern ranges) for less than $500(many below $200) to be had that tick many of the boxes important to me. [You can see this in my recent acquisitions of Seiko divers in posts below.] It is also because I prefer wearing versatile sports watches and hardly wear dress watches so don't intend to spend a whole lotta $$$ on a dress watch, which most Grand Seikos are.

So we come to a refined dress watch today from their King Seiko line, manufactured at the Daini(second) Seiko factory in the 1960s.



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Some Key Dates & Information

  • In 1968, in the last of the Chronometre(read accuracy) competitions, the 'Accuracy Observatory Trials at Neuchatel' during that period, the watches from Seiko's Daini and Suwa factories were the most accurate mechanicals out there, trumping what the Swiss and others had to offer.
  • Daini and Suwa factories were setup to compete with each other and both made Grand Seikos. Only Daini made King Seikos though. 
  • Back in the 60s and 70s, Grand Seikos had chronometre certs and were adjusted to a higher accuracy. King Seikos were not certified for accuracy but some of these watches had similar internals to the Grand Seikos. The first GS from Daini is the 44GS which was reissued last year LINK.  
  • In 1975, due to the quartz crises, that they were very much a part of creating, they could not keep these premium mechanical lines alive. The Grand Seiko line and the King Seiko line ceased production. 
  • From a co. history standpoint, they had challenges in the late 80s after the Plaza Accord from the G5, which weakend USD against the Yen and Deustschemark and suddenly had trouble selling Seikos cause the Yen was too high against the dollar. 
  • Interestingly, it was against this backdrop that in 1988, they decided to revive the Grand Seiko line with high end quartz watches. 
  • In 1998, they re-introduced mechanical watches to the Grand Seiko line.
  • Current day Grand Seiko mechanical watches have a target accuracy range in use of -1 to +10 seconds per day. But in their tests of uncased movements, the requirement is for a mean daily rate in different positions of an impressive -3.0 ~ +5.0 seconds/ day i.e. better than COSC which is -4 +6, also based on the uncased movements. 
  • Per their site: "Grand Seiko Standard Inspection," which measures gain / loss (daily rate) under various environments, is carried out at the manufacturing plant for 17 days in total, and only mechanical watches that satisfy the standard are given the title of "Grand Seiko." More info on the certification here LINK and faqs here LINK
my watch from Sept 1967 based on the caseback serial number. first digit for year and second digit month for the serial number
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the silver dial on mine has some signs of aging but not too significant to be distracting. the case shows brushed and polished finishing with a polished bezel(it could do with a round of finishing actually)... and the indices are beautifully faceted catching the light at different angles and going from a dark black look to a light silver look as shown in the next 2 pics
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Double batons at 12 'o clock and single batons for the rest of it which is my preferred configuration. as the indices have different surface treatments, the play of light over them makes this a joy to look at in different angles
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the  beautiful hour and minute dauphine hands are also faceted and the date window has a silver frame
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Crown is signed SW for Seiko Watch i think
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and it's in pretty good shape on the inside too... not too bad in terms of corrosion on the caseback... minimal pitting
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4402-8000 (4402A) Caliber with 25 Jewels. Manual Winding & Hacking (Seconds stop when crown is pulled out to time setting position for accurate, to the second, time setting). Low beat movement with a frequency of 18,000 bph 
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and it still keeps good time too :) 
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2 wrist shots follow... 35mm by 42mm on my 7+ 8 inch wrist
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most will regard it to be on the small side but how big do you need your dress watch to be? 39mm? >40mm? 
35mm sounds small but the 42mm lug to lug helps and it is wonderfully balanced. 
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The 4402 8000 King Seiko is a clean, simple and wonderful vintage dress watch from the most accurate mechanical watch in-house manufacture at that time. It is undervalued impo and i am happy to have it in my watchbox for the (few) days in a year, I do decide to wear a dress watch
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and that's it for this post... The next post will feature a watch that is the complete, utter opposite of this. can you guess what it is? stay tuned ;) cheers, raph

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Serenity Now... In Hand Review of the Audemars Piguet 15202 ST Jumbo Extra Thin Self Winding Royal Oak [Part 1]

petite tapisserie dial with white gold applied hour-markers
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For folks who watched Seinfeld u'll get the reference but i wouldn't want u to picture a flustered George saying the words, rather take them as they are... Serenity now :)

The AP 15202 [ 
Reference: 15202ST.OO.1240ST.01 ] is an exquisite timepiece to me. It transported me to the Vallee de Joux... A light morning mist and a still tranquil forest... N a goddess on a white stallion breaking the mists like lady Godiva telling me to follow her to watch nirvana...  Sorry scratch that last bit ;)


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 Images of Vallée de Joux © copyright Dan Holdsworth for Audemars Piguet


the pics taken by me are of a brand new piece for sale so it has it's stickers on... not my watch sadly :(
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Click these links for my posts on their 
  • 40th Anniversary event and exhibition in Singapore LINK and 
  • initial thoughts on the 15400 vs the 15202 LINK 
  • and some pix on another 40th anniversary piece LINK
The original Royal Oak the 5402 was designed by Gerald Genta in 1971 at the behest of George Golay, AP Managing Director at the time, to appeal to the then key Italian market, and launched in 1972 as a luxury steel sports watch that cost more than their gold watches at the time. It generated the right buzz and made people curious of it. 

It wasn't an immediate success at launch however but over time it grew in popularity and in a way, it hid them away from the onslaught of cheap Japanese quartz watches much like the famed tree in which Charles II of England hid to escape the Roundheads following the Battle of Worcester in 1651 from whence the name came. 

The name of that tree than borne on warships for Her Majesty's Royal Navy, the porthole's of which were said to inspire Genta's design in earlier marketing literature but it has been made known that Genta was inspired instead by an old fashioned dive helmet which was affixed by 8 screws to a dive suit which led to the creation of the Royal Oak design [Reference for this in Wei Koh's excellent article on his hunt and acquisition of a gold 5402 LINK and on AP site on Gerald Genta, a great watch designer and in a 2006 watchtime article].

The fact is that it was not only a groundbreaking piece because it was so expensive compared to a Submariner then (Sub at CHF280CHF vs Royal Oak weighing in at CHF3200 ~ equivalent to over US$10k now) but that it was an absolutely beautiful luxury timepiece and met its aim of being an unprecedented steel watch. A wonderful dial with the AP logo at 6 o'clock, great bracelet design and an octagonal bezel with hexagonal gold screws... there is good reason why this watch is an iconic, classic timepiece. 

The nickname Jumbo has stuck to the Royal Oaks with the slim 2121 AP calibre movement in this configuration as it was jumbo at the time compared to their usual lineup. Similarly so for the Patek Philippe Nautilus Jumbo, now the 5711. 

On this journey I've loved the Royal Oak Offshore loads in the past but that has passed and I'm at a stage now that this Royal Oak or The Royal Oak sings a powerful siren song to me... it feels amazing what this piece evoked in me when i took pictures of it. So many wonderful things coming together in its svelte profile that for a moment i forgot that i had a mortgage to pay and that i needed this watch...  

39mm stainless steel case with white gold hexagonal screws... this dial hews closely to the original Royal Oak dial done by Gerald Genta. the change to the dial for this and the original 5402 jumbo is the dial text font of Audemars Piguet and the date wheel the same color as the dial instead of white
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& yes it'll look good 10, 20, 50 years from now... out of the darkness... 
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Images of Vallée de Joux © copyright Dan Holdsworth for Audemars Piguet

into the light... 
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Manual finishing of the bridges (polished bevels, satinbrushed edges, 

Perlage on the recesses) Manual finishing on both bridges and mainplate
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Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 2121 ~ Extra-thin movement with an oscillating weight on an annular ring running on four jewels. Bidirectional winding. 40 hour power reserve and running at 2,75 Hz frequency (19,800 beats per hour) 
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alternate views...
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Images of Vallée de Joux © copyright Dan Holdsworth for Audemars Piguet

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the 21 carat gold rotor can be custom decorated upon customer's request
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When you have time, watch this cool set of videos on the making of the Royal Oak LINK 

After all of this post is read and the videos watched, set aside some cash [list is high S$20s (S$28.8k) but selling should be low 20s] and head down to your (watch)pusher of choice that carries Audemars Piguet and get yourself a Royal Oak 15202 ;) kidding. i know i want to...  


a parting shot before Part 2... [LINK to Part 2
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Saturday, 16 August 2014

Press Releases: Rolex Oyster Deepsea Seadweller With D-Blue Dial & Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph

I don't typically do press release stuff but these watches are of interest to me. the rolex is also probably the only one in the pricier luxury watch segment with a gradient dial in the way this d-blue dial has been done going from dark blue to black top to bottom. so what are my thoughts of the 2?

Rolex Deepsea Seadweller D-Blue - I prefer the original styled 16600 seadweller to the deep sea version so the 2014 basel release of a normal updated version of it, the 4000 Ref. 116600, was welcome. the Deep Sea Seadweller is an interesting larger beefier sized Rolex diver though and the dial on this gives it a significantly different look such that folks who own the original submariners/seadwellers might consider this as a possible option for an addition to their dive watch collection. that is if they like the dial of course. i am warming up to it somewhat but i think will only be able to decide if i do like it after i see it for myself in the metal and compare it with the 116600 as well as the new milgauss blue dial whenever they do pop up. will see.


AP Tourby Chrono - This is launching at watches and wonders, which is taking place on 30 Sep to 2 Oct at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Exhibiting Maisons: A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Officine Panerai, Piaget, Richard Mille, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels. for more info LINK i am considering going by but just thinking about it for now... 


onto select press release info for these watches then. 



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Rolex Celebrates Its Partnership with James Cameron’s Historic Dive by Launching a New Version of the Rolex Deepsea 


On the occasion of the release of National Geographic’s DEEPSEA CHALLENGE 3D film about the expedition to the deepest reaches of the ocean by explorer and film-maker James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar), Rolex has introduced a new version of its Rolex Deepsea. This ultimate divers’ watch, resistant to extreme pressure, isequipped with a “D-blue” dial representing the colours of the deep. The deep blue to pitch-black gradient dial is reminiscent of the ocean’s twilight zone where the last trickle of light from the surface disappears intothe abyss, echoing James Cameron’s DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition. A sa tribute to the partnership between Rolex and Cameron, the “DEEPSEA”marking on the new dial adopts the colour of the explorer’s green submersible as it is perceived underwater.


Exploring the last frontier 

On 26 March 2012, film-maker and explorer James Cameron made a record-breaking solo dive 10,908 metres (35,787 feet) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean piloting the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible. He remained on the ocean floor for three hours to explore, take samples and capture the first-ever high-resolution images of this last frontier. Scientists estimate that 95 per cent of the oceans remain unexplored and hold hidden clues to life on Earth. The samples taken on the expedition have led to the identification of at least 68 new species. The documentary film follows the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE adventure from its very beginning to the last of its 13 Pacific dives. 


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Rolex and the deep Rolex watches have a connection with both the Trieste and the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expeditions. During both historic dives, an experimental Rolex watch attached to the hull of the submersible was exposed to the most colossal water pressure on the planet, some 11 kilometres (7 miles) below the surface. Both watches emerged working perfectly, illustrating the supremacy of Rolex in mastering water-proofness. Rolex played a pioneering role in the conquest of the deep with the creation, in 1926, of the Oyster, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, then of professional divers’ watches: the Oyster Perpetual Submariner (1953), Sea-Dweller (1967) and Rolex Deepsea (2008).



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The ultimate divers’ watch 

 The Rolex Deepsea, a new-generation divers’ watch, is waterproof to an extreme depth of 3,900 metres (12,800 feet). Its 44 mm Oyster case, reinforced with the patented Ringlock System, was designed to exceed the most exacting demands of professional divers. It defines new standards of robustness, precision, functionality and reliability. James Cameron was wearing a Rolex Deepsea during his expedition into the Mariana Trench. The model also served as the blueprint for the design of the experimental Rolex Deepsea Challenge, waterproof to a depth of 12,000 metres (39,370 feet) and tested in real-life conditions during Cameron’s dive, affixed to the robotic arm of his submersible. 


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Pushing the limits 

With the new version of the Rolex Deepsea equipped with a gradient “D-blue” dial, Rolex is celebrating not only its partnership with James Cameron’s historic expedition, but also its commitment to exploration, innovation and the constant desire to push the limits of human endeavour.


Specs


Model: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea D-BLUE Dial 44 mm References: 116660
Case: Oyster (monobloc middle case, screw­ down case back and winding crown) ringlock system case architecture with nitrogen ­alloyed steel ring helium escape valve


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Diameter: 44 mm materials: 904l steel, case back in grade 5 titanium
Winding crown: screw down, triplock triple water-proofness system
Crystal: domed, 5 mm­ thick scratch­ resistant synthetic sapphire
Bezel: unidirectional rotatable 60­minute graduated; cerachrom insert made of ceramic, numerals and graduations coated in platinum via pvd
Water-proofness: 3,900 m (12,800 ft)
Movement: calibre 3135, manufacture rolex mechanical movement, bidirectional self­winding via perpetual rotor precision: officially certified swiss chronometer (COSC)


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Functions: centre hour, minute and seconds hands instantaneous date with rapid setting stop­ seconds for precise time setting
Oscillator: frequency: 28,800 beats /hour (4 hz) paramagnetic blue parachrom hairspring with breguet overcoil large balance wheel with variable inertia, high­precision regulating via gold microstella nuts
Power reserve: approximately 48 hours
Bracelet: oyster; folding oysterlock safety clasp with rolex glidelock system for fine adjustment of bracelet length, and fliplock extension link


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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Self-Winding Tourbillon Chronograph Limited Edition of 50 [Ref: 26550AU.OO.A002CA.01] Limited Edition of 50 List of $285.6k


It was in 1993 that Audemars Piguet established a whole new category of sports watch with the ground-breaking Royal Oak Offshore. A natural evolution of the original, octagonal Royal Oak which took the watch world by storm in 1972, the supersized 'Offshore' was large, bold, rugged and highly functional.



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The thinking behind the design of its 42mm diameter case was to create a luxury sports watch which was virtually indestructible. A soft iron inner cage made it ultra-resistant to magnetism; a rubber coated crown and pushpieces combined with a visible gasket beneath the screwed-down bezel made the watch exceptionally waterproof - and the sheer volume of metal in the case provided the selfwinding movement with an unparalleled degree of protection. It was not long before the Royal Oak Offshore attracted a cult following among horological aficionados, leading to its current status as one of the all-time greats of modern watch making which has been interpreted in numerous different configurations yet which has always retained its essential, original character. 


One of the most dramatic and unexpected of those interpretations appeared in 2010 in the form of the first Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph featuring a hand-wound movement and a case incorporating forged carbon and ceramic. Now, four years later, Audemars Piguet is proud to present an entirely new Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph driven by the very latest, selfwinding Calibre 2897 which has been especially developed to power it. As mighty as the watch itself, the Calibre 2897 mechanism comprises 335 parts and can be seen in all its glory through a sapphire crystal caseback. A true, micro mechanical work of art, the movement is rich in components which have been bevelled, polished, chamfered and decorated entirely by hand to create a shimmering play of light and shade.



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From an engineering perspective, too, the Calibre 2897 stands out: the automatic winding system is driven by a peripheral oscillating weight made from satin-brushed, 950 platinum. The calibre can be seen through a special aperture at the one o’clock position as well as through the oscillating weight visible from the dial side. Exceptional accuracy is ensured, meanwhile, through both the tourbillon mechanism and the use of the column wheel system, which is widely regarded as being the most reliable and precise of all chronograph configurations. To protect this sublimely beautiful powerhouse, Audemars Piguet's designers have created a very special version of the Royal Oak Offshore case based on modern, black coloured materials: forged carbon for the middle,ceramic for the bezel, titanium and ceramic for the push pieces and rubber for the strap. The Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph: an exceptional blend of traditional watch making savoir faire and high tech thinking.


The Calibre 2897 movement was created entirely in-house by Audemars Piguet using the very latest in horological technology combined with the classic watch making skills for which the company has been renowned since its founding almost 140 years ago. Everything from the rounded cut of the bridges to the S-shaped coupling yoke (traditional to the watch making of the Vallée de Joux), the curves of the minute-counter bridge and the characteristic toothing of the column wheel display a mechanical artistry that almost belies the fact that the finished article is a precision mechanism capable of slicing time in to fragments of a second. 

Audemars Piguet is one of the few remaining high-end watch makers to still use such a high level of decoration, which includes classic finishes such as mirror polishing, hand chamfering, circular graining and hand-drawing. All of these are executed manually in a series of meticulous operations that account for as much as 30 per cent of the value of the finished timepiece. The process takes many hundreds of hours before the master watch maker can perform an initial trial assembly in order to give first life to the newly created Calibre 2897 movement - after which everything is dismantled, meticulously cleaned and made ready for final assembly before being mounted in the 44mm Royal Oak Offshore case.



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