When daring maverick watch designer Emmanuel Gueit pitched his proposal to create the Royal Oak Offshore, the Audemars Piguet board was incredulous. A watch with a diameter of 42 millimeters and 14.04 thick? That seemed crazy. A totemic piece. Something impossible for fine watchmaking and this was expressed by the then CEO of Audemars Piguet, Georges Henri Meylan, who wanted to close the meeting, defending that "there was no way to make that watch." But Gueit countered with a firm “hopefully they will change their minds”. And he got it. The Royal Oak Offshore, which due to its proportions, the large rubber gasket and the virile aesthetics was nicknamed “The Beast” from the outset, was born according to its principles twenty years after Royal Oak had already revolutionized luxury watches. The success was resounding.
Emmanuel Gueit's invention became the first high-end sports watch, and Audemars Piguet's great best seller, displacing the brand's more traditional models. And, most importantly, rapidly and surprisingly establishing links with different fields that are quite remote from fine watchmaking, such as elite sports, music and entertainment.
In addition to having launched a forceful, daring but brilliant piece in all its aspects, Audemars Piguet succeeded in turning Arnold Schwarzenegger (the former bodybuilder turned actor first and then California governor, was already a lover of the brand and had even traveled to the manufacture of Le Brassus in 1997) in the ambassador of the first special edition of the collection. The one released in 1999 for his film The End of Days (Ref. 25770SN) was immediately successful and brought the Offshore collection to the fore to start a tradition of special editions.
Schwarzenegger's had a masculine aesthetic with a steel case covered with a PVD treatment, the first in the brand's history, and a Kevlar bracelet and several of the 500 copies of this limited edition were sold to benefit its Inner City Games Foundation, dedicated to offering educational and sports programs to underprivileged children.
This year, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the collection, Audemars Piguet is erecting a tribute to the key model that marked a turning point in the destiny of Offshore with its new Royal Oak Offshore Automatic Chronograph, inspired by the 1999 piece.