We put Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore Diver, a watch built for sport but suited for leisure, through its paces. Don’t be fooled by its chic styling and haute-de-gamme price tag: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver is a rugged, real-world divers’ watch, with all the features a watch needs to survive the rigors of the deep.
It’s better suited for warm climates than cold ones, because the watch’s strap has no extension piece to make it long enough to wear over the sleeve of a wetsuit. In all other areas, however, this watch meets the requirements expected of a genuine divers’ watch. It is water-resistant to 300 meters, 100 more than the standard 200 meters expected of divers’ watches. It also has a rotatable ring with a luminous zero mark to set the dive time, the dial displays glow in the dark, and the hands for hours, minutes and seconds have different shapes for easier reading under water.
The rotatable ring has single-minute subdivisions for the first quarter-hour, which are sufficient for most practical diving situations. Unlike a classic divers’ bezel, the ring is positioned underneath the crystal and can be reset by turning the additional crown at 10 o’clock. The ring clicks authoritatively into place in single-minute increments, and its designated crown can be conveniently unscrewed and easily turned, but only if the diver isn’t wearing gloves. This is another hint that this watch is meant for tropical climates. Also, the crown is somewhat difficult to reach if the owner is wearing the watch, as most people do, on his left wrist.
Because the screwed crown prevents the rotatable ring from being inadvertently repositioned, Audemars Piguet designed the ring so that it can rotate in two directions. This makes it easier and quicker to set the zero point of the dive.
The Royal Oak Offshore Diver is well suited for diving, but would you really want such a handsome, high-quality and expensive watch to run the risk of rubbing against hard equipment or scraping against the deck when you climb out of the water? You’d probably prefer to wear it while sipping a cocktail on deck or dining at an exclusive seaside restaurant. If so, this watch will look and feel right at home because a Royal Oak always makes a stylish statement — even this model, with its sporty rubber strap. Contributing to its good looks is its perfectly crafted dial, with the trademark “Mega Tapisserie” textured pattern, and its hour hand and minute hand, both made of white gold.
Another ingredient in the Diver’s special appeal is its multifaceted and impeccably crafted case. Familiar features borrowed from other Royal Oak models include hexagonal white-gold screws in an octagonal bezel and beautifully alternating satin-finished and polished surfaces. The rubber ring under the bezel is especially thick, as it is on all Offshore models. The Diver also has rubber covers on both crowns. The elaborately crafted caseback has no sapphire window, but its grained center bears the words “Royal Oak Offshore” as a relief engraving: each letter boasts polished upper surfaces. Two particularly fine details are the tapered and polished edges along the upper surfaces of the lugs and the even slimmer beveling on the crown protector. The case is among the best to be found anywhere, although the wearer might have a little trouble slipping the watch under a long-sleeved shirt or sweater because of the case’s angular construction. (Yet another sign that this watch is suited for milder weather.)
The strap connects seamlessly to the large, heavy case thanks to two movable brackets that are meticulously satin-finished on both their front and back surfaces. The strap’s styling is sleek and simple, but the solidity of its craftsmanship will appeal to connoisseurs, as will the graining on its upper surface (which resists dust) and on its inner surface (which minimizes perspiration). Wide holes in the strap easily accommodate the massive prong on the stylish clasp, whose large dimensions make it a perfect match for the strap and the case. Download the full review here.