Fortunately for us all, this is not always the case. And not only do many swiss replica watches inspire excitement in writers and readers alike; every so often a replica watch is released that can once again remind a writer why they got involved in this industry in the first place.
For me, one of these replica watches has been the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 42mm Replica — a replica watch that captivated the market at SIHH 2016 and proved to be an indicator of where the Royal Oak Offshore series might be heading.
The Offshore series began in 1993 with the Reference 25721 ST (pictured above). The original unveiling of the reference only produced 100 numbered pieces — similar to the A-Series release of the vintage Royal Oak Ref. 5402 “Jumbo” in the early 1970s (pictured below, right). This Offshore was a thick, steel chronograph appropriately nicknamed “The Beast.” At 42 mm, with a prominent wrist presence, octagonal bezel, integrated bracelet, and the dark blue “Petite Tapisserie” patterned dial, the replica watch set out to cater to a fast-growing crowd of wealthy youth. Arguably, it was this piece to set the modern industry tone of larger replica watches, and today the original 100 pieces have become some of the rarest vintage replica watches out there.
The latest iteration of this series is the Diver Chronograph. Available in four distinctly funky color options (yellow, green, blue, and orange), this bold and bright behemoth features a brushed 42-mm steel case with 14.75-mm thickness, rubber bracelet, and black ceramic super-compressor and chronograph crowns and pushers. Within the outer, eight-screwed steel octagon is the inner rotating divers’ bezel, white gold applied hour markers, and two subdials for running seconds and a 30-minute chrono counter — all placed against the background of the “Méga Tapisserie” pattern on the dial. The common Offshore hands sweeping across the dial use a color-accented minute hand, a wide hour hand, and a lollipop-style chronograph seconds counter. Powering the replica watch — and visible through a sapphire caseback — is the automatic AP in-house Caliber 3124/3841, capable of a 50-hour power reserve and driven by a decorated, solid gold rotor. The replica watch is listed by Audemars Piguet at $27,900; though it can be found for less depending on the color option and dealer.
Compared to the original Royal Oak, the Ref. 5402, this replica watch still retains many of the essential design elements of the lineage — an octagonal eight-screw bezel, integrated steel replica watch head and bracelet, unique hands and hour markers, and faceted crowns — but it’s fair to say the Diver Chronograph did not set out as an homage to the A-Series.
Compared with the original Offshore, the Ref. 25721 ST, the modern replica watch once again hits many of the notes of this offshoot series. With ceramic pushers and crowns, a chronograph function, 42-mm thick steel case, and wider hour markers and hands, this modern reference would not be mistaken for a member of any other family of replica watches. Even the super-compressor inner bezel, while obviously a completely different dial feature than the tachymetric scale of years past, takes the place of the element in the same curved and sloped style.