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Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix Collection - mechanical chronograph watches Featured

The latest from Audemars Piguet
by 26 March 2010

The Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix Collection exemplifies the powerful ties between watchmaking and automobiles: in both sectors there are the same passion for design and the same incessant quest for mechanical performance. The dial counters of the watches in this collection evoke dashboard instruments, the crown a gear, and the bezel a ventilated brake disc. The collection consists of three timepieces, each issued in a limited series. All feature superbly finished detailing combined with cutting-edge materials. These models are powered by a throbbing engine in the shape of a selfwinding proprietary chronograph movement, and they are sure to delight all those with a taste for high-speed thrills!

Sophisticated shapes and high-tech materials
Whether viewed from the front, the side, or through the sapphire crystal back, all viewpoints provide the same clear-cut impression of dynamic, aggressive, taut and complex shapes that are undeniably reminiscent of gleaming automobile bodywork. Among the three interpretations available, the first is distinctive for its forged carbon case matching a bezel which is made with an upper section also in forged carbon, and a lower ring in gleaming black ceramic. The bezels are a good example of the sophisticated design, as they comprise two openworked and nested rings. The screws extend slightly beyond the bezel surface and are thus set off to best advantage. This first version exudes an extremely sporty and predominantly black appearance enhanced by the red dial – a central eloxed aluminium plate adorned with the “Méga Tapisserie” motif characteristic of the Royal Oak Offshore line. The pattern has however been specially revisited for this limited edition by means of a negative-printed design that creates a depth effect and evokes the cooling scoops on a car. Another red accent appears on the crown adorned with an eloxed aluminium cartridge. The crown deserves a closer look due to its sophisticated edging and its openworked design providing glimpses of red – a colour that also appears on the side of the alcantara strap. The floating flange stands out because of its bronze colour reminiscent of the magnesium alloy wheel rims on a racing car.

The second model has a case in pink gold, a noble material that makes a striking contrast with the forged carbon and black ceramic bezel, as well as with the left side of the case middle and its forged carbon element designed like a ventilation duct. It also contrasts with the carbon pushpiece guards, which further exemplify the meticulous detailing on this model. Instead of being straightforward rectangles, the latter feature clean-honed high-tech edges and are applied to the case by four visible screws. They are hollowed on the side so as to house the pushpieces which themselves consist of two parts: a black polished ceramic base and a pink gold contact surface. The third and final version also has a forged carbon and black ceramic bezel, fitted, in this instance, to a case in 950 platinum, the noblest of metals, in combination with a blue eloxed aluminium dial plate.

This fascinating list of technical and aesthetic characteristics would hardly be complete without mentioning the four scoops at 1.30, 4.30, 7.30 and 10.30, echoing the studs which are a reference to the same theme; and the three counters with a raised rim that is blackened inside and polished on top.

Thus endowed with a wealth of fine details, these three models brilliantly showcase Audemars Piguet’s technical expertise. The shapes are enriched by a profusion of design features inspired by the world of automobiles. They all share the common denominator of protruding elements – cooling scoops, aerodynamic effects and deflectors – that provide a combination of character and complexity. The result is a major technical accomplishment with an aggressive, ultra-sporty design.

Beneath the hood
While racing cars are naturally powered by high-performance engines, the movement equipping the Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix chronographs is equally impressive. The selfwinding Calibre 3126 is entirely designed, developed and made by the Manufacture Audemars Piguet, and the 3840 chronograph mechanism with which it is fitted ensures accurate timing. The constantly enhanced Calibre 3126/3840 is distinguished by its admirable reliability. Its cross-through balance-bridge guarantees improved shock-resistance, while the variable-inertia balance equipped with eight inertia-blocks ensures stable long-term rate constancy.

It is also extremely user-friendly, particularly thanks to the fast-adjustment instant-jump date display and the 60-hour power reserve. Accurate time-setting is facilitated by the fact that pulling out the crown instantly activates the stop seconds lever which – as its name implies – brings the seconds hand to an immediate halt. But the most stunning assets of Calibre 3126/3840 undoubtedly lie in its refined design and fine workmanship. Hand-assembled in Le Brassus workshops, it boasts exceptional quality of execution and finishing. The bridges, which are arranged in an elegant and harmonious manner, are meticulously chamfered and polished so as to display only clean-cut, shining edges. The jewel sinks are diamond-polished and the wheels feature chamfered arms and diamond-polished sinks. Even the screw slots and rims are chamfered. The hand-crafted decorative touches include circular-grained on either side of the mainplate and bridges adorned with Côtes de Genève. The single-piece oscillating weight in 22-carat gold has been specifically designed and developed for this prestigious limited edition. Partially blackened and hollowed, it reflects the recurrent theme of scoops and contrasting relief effects. The AP monogram – naturally in red – is thus framed by two scoops carved out of the metal block.

The case-back comes in titanium, pink gold or 950 platinum according to the version and matches the overall resolutely modern and industrial aesthetic. It alternates between grained, satin-brushed and polished finishes and shows off its eight hollowed screws. A circular zone dedicated to a partially blackened text zone proudly displays the inscription “Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix Limited Edition”, while the central sapphire crystal makes it possible to see the magnificent motor driving the watch.

Clever combinations of forged carbon
Forged carbon was deliberately chosen for this collection. This ultra-light and resistant material was developed exclusively by Audemars Piguet, from the manufacturing method through to the related tools. The sophisticated shapes of the Royal Oak Offshore are achieved thanks to an appropriate mould. A set of threaded carbon filaments is placed inside this mould. This wire measuring just one millimetre in diameter itself consists of several thousand 7-micron carbon fibres held together by a resin wire.

The case middle of the Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix calls for a set of filaments totalling 12.5 grams. Placed end to end, these filaments are equivalent to 22.2 metres of carbon wire and 99.7 km of carbon fibres! The mould is then compressed at high temperature at pressures of over 300 kilos per square centimetre. This process results in a material composed of 76% carbon and only 24% polyamide. Audemars Piguet displays the full power of its expertise in the machining process. The inside of the case and the correction of the various drilled holes can thus be meticulously finished. The result is a shimmering effect and a silky feel, clear-cut edges and a sturdy yet ultra-light case-middle: in its forged carbon version, the Royal Oak Ofshore Grand Prix weighs a mere 120 grams! Ceramics, blackened or beadblasted titanium, eloxed aluminium, 950 platinum and pink gold all contribute to this stunning combination of sophisticated materials.
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26 March 2010