Audemars Piguet released three new 42 mm Royal Oak Offshore Divers in stainless steel. We got up-close and hands-on with the three new AP ROO Diver watches in khaki, blue or grey dial aesthetics, a new caliber 4308 as well as a new interchangeable strap system.
Review: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver
The new AP Royal Oak Offshore Diver is priced at a retail of CHF 23,400, which is a small premium over the existing ROO Diver (CHF 20,600 for Ref. 15710ST.OO.A002CA.01 which uses the older caliber 3120 movement). References: Ref. 15720ST.OO.A052CA.01 (khaki) Ref. 15720ST.OO.A009CA.01 (grey), Ref. 15720ST.OO.A027CA.01 (blue). It is currently not clear if the older ROO Diver will be discontinued.
The AP ROO Diver is an extension of a watch which is in the AP catalog for quite a while. The series began way back in 2005 as the Offshore Scuba and renamed the Offshore Diver in 2010, and have seen significant development over the last 16 years. We reviewed the older versions (with caliber 3120) here:
This review will focus on the khaki dial, but will have photographs of both the blue and grey dialed versions, and all comments and views will apply to all the three models.
The case, dial and hands
The case is the familiar, stout and hefty Royal Oak Offshore case, with the iconic octagonal bezel design with hexagonal shaped screws, so loved by many. As usual, the bezel is spectacularly finished, with a brushed upper face, and high polish slightly sloped chamfers with the slots on the screw heads are aligned to form a circle. As discussed in our AP factory visit article, this bezel is not fastened by turning these screws, but by nuts from the rear which tighten through the case middle. The bezel features a colour coded gasket – in khaki green, blue or grey between it and the case middle for visual interest, which AP calls a sporty touch.
The stainless steel case has two crowns, at 3 and 10 o’clock, both in black ceramic. As with the bezel, the case is alternately finished in a brushed matte in juxtaposition to high polished edges.
The dial retains the “Méga-Tapisserie” pattern now familiar with ROO watches. This pattern is stamped using a special machine in the Le Brassus manufacture.
The dial features an inner bezel which is sloped and marked with Arabic numerals for the tens of minutes and bars for the odd 5 minute intervals. The first 15 minutes of the inner bezel is also marked in a different colour from the rest, a useful feature for divers. For the Khaki model, this is in beige, to match the beige print and the rose gold hands and index appliqués. For the other two models, this is in white to match the white print and the white gold hands and indices. This bezel can be operated, uni-directionally with the crown at 10 o’clock, and can be used to indicate remaining time of a dive, or a parking coupon, or similar.
At first glance, the dial looks like the older ROO Diver, but as with many AP models, the devil is in the details. The new dial features facetted hour markers in rose gold appliqués , cut in three sizes for better legibility. The long hour markers indicate the quarter hours with the 12 being slightly larger than the other two, with the exception of the 15 minute mark which is replaced by an aperture for the date. The shorter hour markers are shorter, more a square shape to mark the 5 minute increments. Luminescent coating on the rose gold hour markers and rose gold hands allow good visibility in the dark.
The new ROO Diver comes with a new (to AP) quick change system for the straps and buckles. The strap is released by depressing two buttons on the edge where the strap meets the watch head. Inserting a new strap is a simple process of just a push. As options, three calfskin leather straps in beige, brown and black are also available. The buckle is released by flipping a gate which allows the pin buckle to slide off and on.
The proliferation of these quick change systems by may maisons is an interesting concept and allows the manufacturer to hold on to a revenue source and prevent it from slipping to the hands of after market strap makers. Though, perhaps it is a matter of time before the strap makers also begin to adapt their after market straps to use these quick release systems. Time will tell.
The movement: AP Caliber 4308
The watch is equipped with a new automatic movement an instantenously jumping date indicator. The Caliber 4308 is designed and made in-house in Le Brassus, and is equipped with a patented setting system. No details were published by AP, but the claim is that the new mechanism brings stability and precision when adjusting the watch’s function. Perhaps this is a reference to the tendency of the minute hand to jerk as one pushes in the crown in the otherwise superb old caliber 3210. But until we get confirmation from AP, we only speculate. During our hands-on, we did note that the minute hand remained stationary as the crown is returned to winding position after hand setting.
Movement finishing is excellent. If judged as a tool diving watch, it is exceptionally good. When judged as a haute horlogerie offering, it is still very very good. Nothing is missed. From the “Côtes de Genève,” “traits tirés” and circular graining. The execution is refined, confident, and very well done. Of particular aesthetic appeal is the new dedicated oscillating weight in blackened 22-carat pink gold.
The robustness of the 3120’s balance bridge is retained in the new movement, and though we did not have the opportunity for a long term test, we see no caveats that this new movement will be a workhorse, despite looking elegant and beautiful.
The world of diving watches is a huge one. Here we are considering candidates which have a minimum water resistance rating of 300m. Even then, this landscape is huge. But the one which this AP competes in is at the very top level luxury diving watches. Thus, if we limit to the luxury positioning of the ROO Diver, the scene narrows considerably.
But let us start with the tool watches. The obvious candidate is the ubiquitous yet rather difficult to procure diving models from Rolex. We are talking of course of the Rolex Submariner. The latest iteration in was introduced last year, including a model in white gold: Rolex Submariner. The Submariner series is mature, with a well developed secondary market supporting the high demand for these pieces. Rolex retail prices are, however considerably lower than the prices which the AP ROO Diver is pitched at, but often market pricing equalizes the difference. This is, of course ignoring that some ROO do command a premium as well.
Closer in retail price point, and in the luxury circle intent is perhaps the various Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. We recently reviewed the Fifty Fathoms No Rad, which despite being just introduced, is already sold out on all 500 pieces. At SGD 19,500, it is also less expensive than the AP, though it sports the Blancpain 1151, a movement which arguably rivals the AP 4302 in refinement and finishing.
In the top level luxury circles, perhaps only brands like Richard Mille remain. One Richard Mille RM28 Diver, whose retail is an eye watering USD 79,000. Like all other RM watches, it is pitched to live in the uppermost stratosphere.
None of the other Big Three maisons – viz Patek Philippe nor Vacheron Constantin offer a diver’s watch. So perhaps the AP ROO Diver stands as the king of the realm.
We enjoyed our time with the AP ROO Offshore. The watch’s 42mm case diameter is very comfortable on the wrist, as is the pliable rubber strap. The visual aesthetics is typical Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore. Big, bold, audacious, and yet refined and a relaxed air about it. The watch has great wrist presence, and other people take notice as one enters the room with the ROO Diver on the wrist. The coloured dial with matching strap makes it even more outstanding.
For the AP fan, this is one to add to the collection. For others, it will be a difficult chase to get to try and buy one. AP ROOs are as much an IT watch as any of the other popular ones. And we say, if you have a chance to get one, DO IT! Just because its an Audemars Piguet. Just because its a Royal Oak Offshore. And just because it is cool, and will make you uber-cool too!
The watches were photographed in the AP Boutique in Liat Towers, Singapore. Fujifilm GFX 50S with GF 120mm f/4, or GF 50mm f/3.5 with and without MCEX18 and MCEX45 extension tubes. Profoto strobes.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver / 42 mm specifications
Dive time measurement, date, hours, minutes and centre seconds.
Stainless steel case, glareproofed sapphire crystal and caseback, black ceramic screw-locked crowns, water-resistant to 300 m.
Khaki green dial with “Méga Tapisserie” pattern, pink gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating, black rotating inner bezel with zone from 60 to 15 minutes in beige.
Interchangeable khaki green rubber strap with stainless steel pin buckle. An additional black rubber strap is included.
Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 4308
Diameter 32 mm (14 lignes)
Thickness 5.20 mm
Number of parts 234
Number of jewels 32
Minimum power reserve guaranteed 60 hours
Frequency of balance wheel 28,800 bph