You might have read it, but did you get a chance to let the news really sink in? The Offshore turns 30 this year. That’s three decades. Thanks to a healthy diet of regular facelifts, the watch managed to become a forever-young legend. During the watch’s lifetime, some iterations have gained legendary status. The Royal Oak Offshore “End of Days” reference 25770SN was one of them, and now that bold stainless steel PVD-coated watch now has a modernized successor. It’s the 43mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph in black ceramic with bright yellow details.
The Royal Oak Offshore “End of Days” reference 25770SN was a limited edition of 500 pieces. And one of them was on the wrist of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1999 movie End of Days. The big and black “ROO” for the movie star was a steel watch that received AP’s first-ever PVD coating. It was quite avant-garde at the time, even trend-setting. The watch in the movie (and also the 499 other ones that were not) featured a Velcro strap, a black dial with yellow Arabic numerals, a date display at 3 o’clock, and three sub-dials. And along with the 42mm case, the bezel, crown, pushers, and clasp were done in black PVD steel too.
Black PVD steel is not very 2023, but black ceramic is. And that’s why the homage to the original ROO “End of Days” is done in scratch-resistant, lightweight, anti-allergic, black high-tech ceramic. The new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph is not just black, of course, there’s also a bit of yellow. You might know about my issues with the combo of black and yellow in watches. If you don’t, it doesn’t really matter. I will just stick to the facts and leave all the interpretation to you, the reader. Anyway, the look of the new ROO is bold, dynamic, and historically rooted. Also, the limited edition of 500 pieces is in line with the previous watch. The movement inside the new ROO, however, is very different from its historical counterpart. And that’s a good thing because the new creation features AP’s latest self-winding chronograph movement, Calibre 4401. That’s a fully integrated 12-hour chronograph movement with a column wheel, a vertical clutch, and flyback functionality. You can have a look at it through the window on the display case back. You might also notice the refined decorations, including Côtes de Genève, circular graining, sunray finishing, circular satin finishing, and polished bevels. And there you’ll also find the 22K pink gold rotor. The NAC process gave the oscillating weight an anthracite hue. It’s fair to say that End of Days was not the most warmly regarded film in the Arnold Schwarzenegger canon. “A head-on collision between the ludicrous and the absurd” was the verdict of film reviewer Roger Ebert on the 1999 movie that saw Arnie take on the devil himself in order to stop Beelzebub from spawning a master race of satanic followers. Still, Ebert’s two-star review was far kinder than the general consensus: the Rotten Tomatoes website gave the film an 11% rating. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore proved similarly contentious at first. Designed by Emmanuel Gueit, who was just 22 at the time, the 42mm watch was considered gigantic when it was released in 1993. The biggest critic was the father of the Royal Oak, Gerald Genta, who famously burst in during the watch’s presentation to publically accuse Gueit of ruining his design.
Given the initial reception of both the film and the Offshore model, you wouldn’t hold out much hope for the product that linked the two: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore “End Of Days”. Outside the world of mathematics, after all, two minuses rarely make a plus. Except the result turned out to be far more positive than expected. Limited to just 500 individually numbered pieces (it should really have been an allocation of 666), the Royal Oak Offshore “End Of Days” was one of the very first horological collaborations with a celebrity. As Francois-Henry Bennahmias says in the video below that celebrated the Offshore’s 25th birthday, Arnie made specific demands regarding the design: “The watch has to be black and I want yellow numbers,” he reportedly said. The result might not have been subtle, but that design coated in black PVD, makes the yellow hour markers and luminescent Arabic numerals leap out against the petite tapissiere dial. Here was a watch as big and as bold as the action-hero on whose wrist it would appear.