The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore “Rubber Clad” is a legend within a legend. While the original AP Royal Oak Offshore launched itself into immortality in 1993, the 2002 debut of the “Rubber Clad” model propelled the newly-minted icon into the 21st century. This 18-karat rose gold Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph represents one of the last and most refined examples of this discontinued collector favorite.
18-karat rose gold makes a high-impact statement. Combine the luster of colored gold with the stark industrial matt black of natural vulcanized rubber, and the effect becomes singular. This Audemars Piguet Rubber Clad pulls no punches from its exquisite high polish gold deployant clasp to its gloss anthracite “mega tapisserie” hobnail dial.
Each Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore “Rubber Clad” is defined by its bonded-rubber bezel. The entire component is wrapped inextricably by soft natural black latex rubber. The challenge of obtaining flush fit, uniformity of shape, and durability in a moulded component cannot be overstated; this is craft-level manufacturing at its finest. While the standard Audemars Piguet Royal Oak expresses a sliver of its rubber bezel gasket, and the Royal Oak Offshore ups the ante with an oversized bezel gasket, the black rubber of this Offshore’s bezel blends into a monolithic continuity where it abuts the gasket. As a result, the Royal Oak Offshore Rubber Clad appears to boast an even larger and more prominent bezel structure than the standard model.
The contrast created by the junction of rose gold and black rubber is a recurring motif on this Royal Oak Offshore. In addition to the signature bezel, this reference 25940OK is equipped with the celebrated Audemars Piguet “Diver” natural rubber strap.
Originally shipped with the Royal Oak Offshore Wempe, Scuba, and Diver time-only models, this supple and flexible option has become a favorite of Offshore chronograph owners with smaller wrists or desire to take their 100m water-resistant watch swimming. Aesthetically, the sharp visual break between the gold lugs and black strap complements the contrast between rubber-wrapped bezel and gold case.
All features of the hand-finished Royal Oak Offshore Rubber Clad hail from the same design studios and finishing ateliers as Audemars Piguet’s finest dress references, ultra-thin models, and classical Jules Audemars round watches. The style may scream “Arnold!” but the impeccable finish whispers “Newman.” Few sports watches can elicit the full spectrum of human emotions, but a solid-gold AP Rubber Clad inspires reactions ranging from respect to outright awe. Look no further than the hand-chamfered lug shoulders, the hand-set 18K Arabic numerals, and the impeccable polish of the inset bezel bolts for evidence of the human touch.
Inside the massive rose gold case, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubber Clad features a caliber 2326/2840 modular automatic chronograph. Uniquely, the Offshore Rubber Clad retained the Jaeger-LeCoultre base movement for the entirety of its 2002-2013 production life. As a result, this H-series AP Offshore is one of comparatively few to feature the last and most advanced version of the JLC 889 base movement. With a free-sprung balance, a double laser-welded hairspring, unidirectional automatic winding, and unlubricated ceramic rotor bearings, this last-of-the-breed AP 2326 is both more efficient and more durable than any prior JLC-powered Offshore. And retaining the JLC base movement has another advantage; the thin JLC movement allows AP to retain the soft iron anti-magnetic movement shield from the original Offshore. This component cannot be fitted to Offshore variants with the thicker in-house caliber.
See this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore “Rubber Clad” reference 25940OK in high-resolution images on www.watchuwant.com.
Video and content by Tim Mosso.