The road towards development of any new timepiece can be a tumultuous journey, often met with doubt, second-guessing, technical challenges and fear of the unknown commercial and critical reception that the new model will ultimately receive. In many ways, the development history of the Royal Oak Offshore between 1989 and 1993 mirrors many aspects of the history of its primary source and inspiration – the 1972 Royal Oak. The original Royal Oak, designed by Gerald Genta in the early years of the Quartz Crisis, shattered the boundaries between luxury and sports watches, while challenging all conventions pertaining to the manufacturing and finishing of stainless steel timepieces. The large and meticulously crafted timepiece developed into an icon in the eyes and minds of collectors and enthusiasts, and boldly stands the test of time over four decades since its creation. However, as we all know very well, its path towards success was met with as much doubt and resistance as it was met with acclaim and appreciation.
The genesis of the Royal Oak Offshore begins in 1989 when a talented, young, second generation designer working for Audemars Piguet named Emmanuel Gueit introduced a sketch of a concept that re-imagined the Royal Oak into a more massive, substantial watch that can handle all of the elements and forces of nature that it would encounter on the wrists of the most active and adventure-seeking collectors. Gueit’s conceptual sketches did not receive much fanfare internally. In fact, like several other designs that ultimately found success, the early years of development were a lonely journey. Fortunately, the project was supported by the Joint Chairman of Audemars Piguet at the time. In addition to the support he provided Gueit, he was also the man that ultimately designated the name of the new creation as the Royal Oak Offshore.