Hot on the heels of Watches & Wonders 2023, Audemars Piguet is announcing their latest limited edition model, this time to commemorate the 30th birthday of the daring Royal Oak Offshore chronograph. Taking inspiration directly from an early example with a cameo connection to ’90s action cinema, we find a specific colorway and the use of some action-ready materials. Of course, those of you who grew up loving the action films of the 1990s may well recognize the black-and-yellow coloring as a direct and intentional reference to the early Royal Oak Offshore that Arnold Schwarzenegger wore in End of Days back in 1999. Based on the current-gen AP Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, this limited edition (ref. 26420CE) uses a 43mm black ceramic case that is 14.4mm thick and employs titanium for the caseback, pusher frames, and studs.
While, yes, 30 years ago would mean 1993, the AP Royal Oak Offshore was not an instant hit and Arnold’s interest in wearing it in the film played a role in establishing the model with the correct audience. To that point, AP CEO Francois-Henry Bennahmais said, “In 1999, the collaboration with Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Royal Oak Offshore End of Days started putting the collection on the map of a wider public for the first time. For the 30th anniversary of the Offshore, paying tribute to this specific timepiece is an obvious choice.” The original End of Days reference is the 25770SN and many collectors and enthusiasts know it as the “End of Days” ROO. This new model houses Audemars Piguet’s 4401 automatic chronograph caliber that ticks at 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 70 hours. This 30th Anniversary Royal Oak Offshore is limited to 500 units worldwide at a price of $60,300. I think I feel loosely the same about AP Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs as I do about ’90s action cinema. Both are big, a bit over the top, hyper-masculine, and meant to combine an array of modern creative capabilities in a presentation that is simply meant to be exciting and fun. From that perspective, I think AP has nailed this 30th-anniversary edition. The watch is largely a known quantity so it’s the coloring, the ceramic case, and the pair of straps that help it to stand out. I love black and yellow (more on watches than on cars or clothing) and I think that if Arnold was making End of Days today, he’d go for the ceramic as it really suits the vibe of the ROO. Finally, the watch comes with two “textile effect” quick-change capable straps, one in black with yellow stitching (seen in the images) and one that is yellow with black stitching. If you’ve got the tan for the latter, you have my tacit support.
This thoroughly modern AP Royal Oak Offshore combines the modern scope of the model with a special bit of Hollywood history that helped to solidify the idea of a big-and-burly Royal Oak via the power of the silver screen.