Audemars Piguet presents a new version of its Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 42 mm, housed in its first-ever black ceramic case with a matching bracelet and a black Petite Tapisserie dial for a contemporary monochrome look. This reference is powered by Calibre 4404, Audemars Piguet’s integrated chronograph movement with a flyback function. Since its creation, the Royal Oak Offshore collection has been dressed in a wide range of materials, such as titanium and forged carbon. In addition to steel or gold, these avant-garde materials offer the perfect balance between technical innovation and design, elegance and robustness.
The ceramic material is also used for the push-pieces at 2 and 4 o’clock that operate the chronograph, as well as for the screw-locked crown at 3 o’clock. Only the eight white gold screws attaching the bezel to the case stand out, along with the eight luminescent applied hour-markers that punctuate the hours and the titanium caseback.
The dial is dressed in the same matte black colour as the case, bracelet, push-pieces, bezel and crown. It is decorated with the Petite Tapisserie pattern, a signature motif previously reserved for the 26238 references in gold or titanium. While past references had variations in tone, this new reference is the first to be totally monochrome in pitch black, which is particularly difficult to achieve due to the different materials and textures used. This aesthetic choice gives the timepiece an unprecedented depth.
To enhance legibility, a wide range of finishings have been developed for this timepiece. Each of the counters is accompanied by a white hand offering a distinct contrast that is further accentuated by a disc of white Arabic numerals.
Similarly, the circular date window (at 3 o’clock) and the three emblematic counters of the Royal Oak Offshore unfold around the two large luminescent hour and minute hands, small seconds at 6 o’clock, chronograph minutes at 9 o’clock and chronograph hours at 12 o’clock. This layout keeps the famous vertical arrangement of the collection. It also follows the subtle introduction made in 2021 where the hour and small seconds counters were switched to offer a top-to-bottom reading of the elapsed hours and minutes.
The ceramic used on this timepiece has been meticulously finished to reveal its subtleties. The craftsmen of the Manufacture met a triple challenge. The first was to achieve the highest standards of quality and finishing, demanded by Audemars Piguet. The second was to perfectly master ceramic which is particularly challenging to work with due to its extreme hardness.
And finally, to marry the complex lines of the Royal Oak Offshore case with alternating polished and satin finishing. Although the exact composition of the ceramic at Audemars Piguet remains a well-kept secret, it is partly made of zirconium oxide powder that is combined with a specific binder. Its homogeneous colour only appears once the material is sintered at temperatures in excess of 1,000oC.
Each component is then pre-polished and pre-satin finished. Lines, angles and bezels are meticulously finished by hand to obtain the alternating polished and satin surfaces that are the Manufacture’s signature style. This demanding work reveals the uniqueness of the material and its colour, exploiting all the subtleties of the material.