Audemars Piguet just announced its first-ever black ceramic Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph.
At 42 mm x 15.3 mm, the 2023 Black Ceramic Royal Oak Offshore Ref. 26238CE is one of the most tasteful, and wearable Offshores, and is clearly inspired by the original 1993 model, though not an exact reproduction. Combined with the all-black ceramic case, bracelet, pushers, and screw-down crown — and the matte black petite tapisserie, which is reserved for the 26238CE reference — with stark white accent colors, the appearance is subtle yet menacing.
Contrasting the predominantly black color scheme are eight functional white gold screws, which attach the case to the bezel, and white gold luminescent Royal Oak hands and applied white gold luminescent hour markers. A sapphire and titanium caseback and folding clasp were chosen for durability. The depth rating to 100 meters.
Driving the Royal Oak Offshore hours, minutes, center seconds, date, and flyback chronograph displays is Audemars Piguet’s in-house integrated column-wheel equipped automatic chronograph caliber 4404, which measures 32 mm x 7.95 mm, beats at 4Hz, has 433 components, 40 jewels, and offers a 70-hour power reserve. Unlike a traditional chronograph, the flyback functionality allows it to be restarted without having to first stop and reset it. Further, the column wheel has a premium vertical clutch that prevents the second hand from jittering when it’s started and stopped, and which ensures smooth actuation of the pushers.
Being a haut de gamme watchmaker, the movement is expertly finished with Côtes de Genève, circular graining, circular satin finishing, and hand-polished bevels (machined beveling). Finishing off the architecture and decorations of the gorgeous caliber 4404 is a 22K pink gold oscillating weight, as you’d expect from a member of the “holy trinity” — which also includes Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe.
Ceramic can be found in everything from entry-level watches all the way to top-of-the-line timepieces like this Black CeramicRoyal Oak Offshore (Ref. 26238CE.OO.1300CE.01), though, the mixture of polished and satin-brushed surfaces, like with metallic Royal Oaks, is impeccable. Whether such finishing, coupled with the overall design, prestige, and exclusivity of ceramic, is worthy of the eye-watering $84,400 price tag — is up to you.
Photo by Audemars Piguet.