Audemars Piguet is one of the biggest watchmaking brands in the watch world, known for their methods of craftsmanship and unique designs. The Swiss brand maintains their high and exclusive status through limited releases meaning their watches are hard to get.


One of their most well-known and elegant lines is the Royal Oak; this collection has seen some of the most amazing pieces by fans and enthusiasts. The Royal Oak had an interesting addition to the collection and Audemars Piguet catalogue- the Royal Oak Offshore.


The Royal Oak Offshore has gained some mixed reception, although more being on the positive side. This article will consist of the differences between the Royal Oak and its younger but bigger sibling, the Royal Oak Offshore.


However, it is important to understand and gain insight into some brief history and knowledge surrounding the two models. Firstly, the Royal Oak was introduced to the horological world in 1972, reference 5402ST.


Before the release, in 1971, Audemars Piguet hired the magnificent watchmaker, Gerald Genta to design the brand's first luxury sports watch. Using diving history, Genta was inspired by the metal diving helmets which include the exposed screws. 


The exposed screws are a feature that is what people familiarise with Royal Oaks, as it is one of the noticeable parts seen on the bezel.


Image by © Audemars Piguet


Why the name Royal Oak? 


Royal Oak was applied to British Navy ships, so the name is fitting for the watch as it links to the nature of the model. Genta’s inspiration from diving helmets matches with the nautical origin of the Royal Oak.


As mentioned above in the article, Audemars Piguet are very limited in the volume of their releases with the first Royal Oak having 1,000 models released. Despite not being a success initially, the model managed to sell out eventually.


The brand released the model in sets of series, starting with Series A, then B,C finishing with D, which is another link to the exclusivity theme of Audemars Piguet. Instead of releasing all the models in one, the Swiss brand highlights a premium release by distributing the model in the sets of series.


The model’s 39mm case size was a slight statement because it was large for the era in watchmaking, which is now considered on the smaller scale in modern watchmaking. This watch became an inspiration and admirable model at the time, giving watchmakers and creators new ideas in the luxury watch market as it broke boundaries and the ‘norm.’ 


Since then, it has become an icon in horological history. There have been some amazing releases part of the Royal Oak collection


What about the Royal Oak Offshore?


The first Royal Oak Offshore was released in 1993 at Baselworld Fair, now called Watches and Wonders, reference 25721ST.


Image by © Audemars Piguet


Supposedly, the watch was set to be released in 1992 to mark the anniversary of the first Royal Oak. However, the launch of the Royal Oak Offshore was postponed due to the brand’s questions surrounding the model, it is rumoured that Gerald Genta wasn’t a fan of the watch.


The main reason was down to the concerns surrounding the weight and size of the Royal Oak Offshore. Eventually, the release was given the green light, and the model was released in 1993. 


The name “Offshore” stemmed from the idea of offshore boat racing but it never appeared on the first 100 examples of the watch, until the 101st example which stated “Royal Oak Offshore” on the case-back of the watch. Fairly quickly, the watch managed to gain a nickname of ‘the beast,’ which is self-explanatory and fair. 


What are the differences?


Mainly, the noticeable differences are the size and design. The case size is much bigger, but there are some additions like the use of rubber. For example, there is an addition of a rubber gasket lining between the case and bezel. Also, rubber bracelets are used on some offshores, to allow comfort as the watch is dense.


Lastly, an addition which is an upgrade on the design are ceramic capped pushers for the chronograph feature because it gives the Royal Oak Offshore a sportier fashion, aligning to the Royal Oak’s origin of being Audemars Piguet’s first luxury sports watch.


Currently in stock, we have two Royal Oak Offshores, the 44mm Platinum Blue dial, reference 26401PO.00.A018CR.01, our price being £39,995 and the limited edition Offshore Michael Schumacher in titanium, reference 26568IM.OO.A004CA.01, our price being £38,995.


Both very strong and bold pieces!


Image by © Time4Diamonds


Remaining on the differences between the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore, there isn’t much separating the two other than the main noticeable distinguishes.




Firstly, the size of the two is very noticeable which makes it the obvious difference between the two models. Of course, diameters vary but the official case size of modern Royal Oaks are 41mm, yet there are smaller models, there are some slightly and rarely bigger options.


Whereas, the Royal Oak Offshore is 42mm but there are bigger, like the two we have in stock that are 44mm. It doesn’t stop there, as there are bigger than 44mm such as the Offshore Arnold Schwarzenegger Legacy, standing at an impressive 48mm!




Another main difference is the thickness of the two watches. Although the jump in official case sizes from 41mm to 42mm isn’t a massive difference, the thickness is a distinguishing factor that illuminates the size difference.

The Royal Oak has a thickness of 10.88mm whereas the Royal Oak Offshore has a much thicker case of 14.9mm. A 4mm thickness increase is going to have a clear difference on your wrist, because of this, the 1mm jump in diameter is much more transparent.


If one was to buy one of the Royal Oak Offshores we have in stock, or have the Arnold Schwarzenegger Legacy in a collection, then the sizing would be much more noticeable from the Royal Oak’s 41mm official case size, with the thickness factor amplifying the sizing difference.




On the dial, Audemars Piguet includes the well-known Tapiserrie dial on their watches. This is the faded square pattern and on the Royal Oak, the squares are much smaller giving a name of the ‘Grand Tapiserrie’ dial. With the squares being smaller, the aesthetic on the dial is elegant and stylish.


On the Royal Oak Offshore, the squares are slightly enlarged to match the nature of the watch. Therefore, the name of the dial is the ‘Mega Tapiserrie’ dial. Everybody’s preference is varied, but the smaller squares create a satisfying and pleasant look. 


Understandably, the size of the squares increased to reflect the overall enlargement of the Royal Oak Offshore. Yet, we question the change in size of the pattern as the brand’s creators could have replicated the small squares on to the Royal Oak Offshore. If they had done this, the ‘Grand Tapisserie’ dial would have contrasted and complimented the size increase, finely. 


Although, it isn’t a huge dilemma in differences as the ‘Mega Tapisserie’ pattern remains stylish, but the change wasn’t necessary.




The display of the chronograph feature is a key difference as the sub-dials on the Royal; Oak Offshore are unconventional. 


The Royal Oak’s sub-dials are placed at three, six, and 9 o’clock as expected. However, the Royal Oak Offshore includes sub-dials at six, nine and 12 o’clock. Some models have the conventional sub-dial placing, but this unique design makes the Royal Oak Offshore stand out even more.




Images by © Audemars Piguet


To conclude this article, the differences are’t major, ultimately, it just comes down to preference.The part that is slightly under-looked is the difference in style between the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore.


If one was looking at buying an elegant watch then the Royal Oak will catch the eye due to the subtle style and elegant aesthetic. On the other hand, if one was looking for a sporty or bolder piece then the Royal Oak Offshore will be favoured over the Royal Oak, due to the Offshore’s huge mass and formal look.


Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t sporty Royal Oak options, as after all the Royal Oak was introduced to be Audemars Piguet’s first luxury sports watch. 


Overall, they are both excellent models part of Audemars Piguet that will continue to be part of the brand’s success, with the Royal Oak collection consisting of some of the most in-demand and sought after pieces.