Audemars Piguet @ Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph

It was in 1993 that Audemars Piguet established a whole new category of sports watch with the ground-breaking Royal Oak Offshore. A natural evolution of the original, octagonal Royal Oak which took the watch world by storm in 1972, the supersized 'Offshore' was large, bold, rugged and highly functional. The thinking behind the design of its 42mm diameter case was to create a luxury sports watch which was virtually indestructible. A soft iron inner cage made it ultra-resistant to magnetism; a rubber coated crown and pushpieces combined with a visible gasket beneath the screwed-down bezel made the watch exceptionally waterproof - and the sheer volume of metal in the case provided the selfwinding movement with an unparalleled degree of protection. It was not long before the Royal Oak Offshore attracted a cult following among horological aficionados, leading to its current status as one of the all-time greats of modern watch making which has been interpreted in numerous different configurations yet which has always retained its essential, original character. One of the most dramatic and unexpected of those interpretations appeared in 2010 in the form of the first Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph featuring a hand-wound movement and a case incorporating forged carbon and ceramic. Now, four years later, Audemars Piguet is proud to present an entirely new Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph driven by the very latest, selfwinding Calibre 2897 which has been especially developed to power it. As mighty as the watch itself, the Calibre 2897 mechanism comprises 335 parts and can be seen in all its glory through a sapphire crystal caseback. A true, micro mechanical work of art, the movement is rich in components which have been bevelled, polished, chamfered and decorated entirely by hand to create a shimmering play of light and shade.

From an engineering perspective, too, the Calibre 2897 stands out: the automatic winding system is driven by a peripheral oscillating weight made from satin-brushed, 950 platinum. The calibre can be seen through a special aperture at the one o’clock position as well as through the oscillating weight visible from the dial side. Exceptional accuracy is ensured, meanwhile, through both the tourbillon mechanism and the use of the column wheel system, which is widely regarded as being the most reliable and precise of all chronograph configurations. To protect this sublimely beautiful powerhouse, Audemars Piguet's designers have created a very special version of the Royal Oak Offshore case based on modern, black coloured materials: forged carbon for the middle,ceramic for the bezel, titanium and ceramic for the push pieces and rubber for the strap. The Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph: an exceptional blend of traditional watch making savoir faire and high tech thinking. The Calibre 2897 movement was created entirely in-house by Audemars Piguet using the very latest in horological technology combined with the classic watch making skills for which the company has been renowned since its founding almost 140 years ago. Everything from the rounded cut of the bridges to the S-shaped coupling yoke (traditional to the watch making of the Vallée de Joux), the curves of the minute-counter bridge and the characteristic toothing of the column wheel display a mechanical artistry that almost belies the fact that the finished article is a precision mechanism capable of slicing time in to fragments of a second. Audemars Piguet is one of the few remaining high-end watch makers to still use such a high level of decoration, which includes classic finishes such as mirror polishing, hand chamfering, circular graining and hand-drawing.All of these are executed manually in a series of meticulous operations that account for as much as 30 per cent of the value of the finished timepiece. The process takes many hundreds of hours before the master watch maker can perform an initial trial assembly in order to give first life to the newly created Calibre 2897 movement  after which everything is dismantled, meticulously cleaned and made ready for final assembly before being mounted in the 44mm Royal Oak Offshore case.

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