Nicknamed ‘The Beast’, due to its sizeable 42mm diameter and sturdy 15mm thickness, the Royal Oak Offshore was first launched by Audemars Piguet – the oldest fine-watchmaking manufacturer still in the hands of its founding families – in 1993, setting a trend for larger-than-normal timepieces. While its octagonal bezel and hexagonal screws retained the Royal Oak line’s signature style details, the Offshore defied established conventions, attracting a fanbase of prominent celebrities in sport, music and cinema in the process.
Indeed, for the past 30 years, the Royal Oak Offshore hasn’t stopped breaking the traditional rules of watchmaking, and it has built its reputation through numerous exciting collaborations with famous faces. Notably, in 1997, when Arnold Schwarzenegger visited AP’s Le Brassus Manufacture – where AP has been based since 1875 – he was so enamoured by the Royal Oak Offshore that he commissioned the first-ever personalised version of the timepiece, for his film End of Days. At the time, a 42mm case was viewed as oversized for a wristwatch, but it was a perfect fit for Schwarzenegger’s brawny physique.
The limited-edition Royal Oak Offshore End of Days marked the beginning of a series of watches designed in tandem with the Austrian. In 2003, he collaborated on a limited-edition version for his film Terminator 3, which was an even more extreme version of the model in titanium, measuring a whopping 48mm in diameter. Then, the year after, Audemars Piguet introduced the Royal Oak Offshore Arnold Schwarzenegger, limited to 400 pieces. This was followed by the Royal Oak Offshore All-Stars in 2008 and the Royal Oak Offshore Arnold Schwarzenegger The Legacy Chronograph in 2011.
The collection has since featured a variety of models developed in association with illustrious household names, including F1 drivers such as Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, hip-hop artist Jay-Z and basketball players Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James among them.
A Royal Oak Offshore Jay-Z 10th Anniversary limited-edition watch was created to celebrate the rapper’s 10th anniversary in the music industry. It featured a diamond-set numeral at ten o’clock and it was sold in a presentation kit that included a unique 40gb iPod containing the artist’s full discography. The series of watches – fifty in steel, twenty in platinum and thirty in pink gold – sold out almost instantly. Jay-Z has also name-dropped AP in several of his songs, including his 2002 track ‘Show You How’, and in 2006 with Beyoncé, when both stars mentioned the brand in their lyrics for ‘Upgrade U.’
New for 2023, to celebrate its 30th anniversary, the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph has been released to pay homage to the house’s original End of Days collaboration with Schwarzenegger. This bold, contemporary model is done out in a sleek black aesthetic punctuated by yellow details and is limited to 500 pieces, with price on application.
Want more pioneering timepieces? Check out The Oris ProPilot Altimeter…
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