An extremely rare, highly collectible and charismatic stainless-steel chronograph wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Audemars Piguet, founded in 1875. Estimated production period: 1994 to 2000, most probably circa 2000. Case in stainless steel, diameter 42mm, 15mm thick, dark-blue rubber-clad screw-locked crown and chronograph pushpieces, solid stainless-steel caseback with engraved “AP”, “Royal Oak Offshore” and “Automatic” inscriptions, serial model and case numbers. Silvered dial with a relief ‘grande tapisserie’ pattern, inclined peripheral ring with tachymeter scale, sunken counters with fine circular grooves, wide white-gold luminous indexes, hour and minute hands, painted white hands of chronograph counters and small seconds hand, applied white gold ‘AP’ logo at 3 o’clock, and magnifying glass over the date window. Caliber 2226/2840, self-winding, rotor with an inertial segment in 21k yellow gold, power reserve of up to 38 hours. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, small seconds hand at 12 o’clock, chronograph with central seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour counters, and date at 3 o’clock. Royal Oak Offshore stainless-steel bracelet, second-generation Royal Oak Offshore triple folding clasp.
The Royal Oak Offshore of Audemars Piguet is a highly attractive collectible series. Since the launch of the collection in 1993, a huge variety of references, designs, limited editions and special editions have appeared. However, there are several basic models, without which any collection of Royal Oak Offshore should be perceived as incomplete. Of course, this includes the original reference 25721 in stainless steel with a dark-blue ‘tapisserie’ dial, as well as the present reference, an unexpectedly rare, early and almost monochrome ‘Silvery Beast’ version with a silvered dial.
An online analysis of the presence of this reference on the market shows that it was and is extremely rarely available, appearing literally a handful of times. This contrasts with another option with a familiar design, namely reference 25721ST.OO.1000ST.07 with a silvery ‘grande tapisserie’ dial and military-styled large luminescent Arabic numerals, which is presented quite widely – one can even say in abundance. The reasons for the situation remain unclear. According to the available open information, large four-digit numbers appear in the designation of previously available examples, so there is every reason to assume that this reference was produced in a small series, for which certain ranges of single number range for 25721ST sub-references were allocated.
The present lot belongs to the initial Royal Oak Offshore 25721ST references family, launched in 1993. Legend has it that it was at the exhibition in Basel where it came to be nicknamed ‘The Beast’, due to its staggering proportions which were unusual for the tastes of those times.
One of the rarest 25721ST sub-references, with a refined, notable and instantly recognisable almost monochrome silvery appearance, which is exotic for the aggressively designed Royal Oak Offshore mainstream
Unlike the original ‘The Beast’ design with a blue dial and small ‘tapisserie’ pattern, the present example belongs to the middle period of the reference design evolution. Its characteristic features are the original structure of the dial with rounded wide baton-shaped indices and hour and minute hands, but without the original small ‘tapisserie’. This was replaced by an accentuated enlarged ‘grande tapisserie’, with six rows of squares placed between the axis of the dial and the date window. Subsequently, the present reference was replaced by models with military-styled large luminescent Arabic numerals, which are significantly more widely represented in the secondary market compared to the present reference.
The collecting of Ref. 25721ST is of great interest in view of the possibility of thorough research into the subject and the discovering of rare varieties or transitional types. The present example corresponds to a certain period in the evolution of initial ‘The Beast’ design, right before the departure from the original style in favour of a brighter, more effective, sometimes even aggressive design.
The present watch is powered by the second-generation caliber 2226/2840. It is worth remembering that Ref. 25271 of the first 200-piece batch was equipped with a modular caliber 2126/2840 with a chronograph function. The automatic movement was based on a movement-blank supplied by Jaeger-LeCoultre (caliber 889) modified to 21,600 vph, while the chronograph module 2840 is based on a kit from the Dubois Dépraz factory. Both are long-term partners and suppliers of Audemars Piguet. Later, until 2005, the ROO was equipped with a second-generation movement – caliber 2226/2840, which used the updated version of a Jaeger-LeCoultre automatic caliber 889/2 (28,800 vph), while in 2005 and early 2006 Audemars Piguet carried out a further modernization, switching to the caliber 2326/2840 with the modernized basic Jaeger-LeCoultre 899 – it is the third-generation ROO chronograph movement, produced until 2014, when the brand made the transition to the in-house basic caliber 3126 movement.
Reasons to bid
The Royal Oak Offshore ‘Silvery Beast’ Ref. 25721ST.OO.1000ST.06 E-series would definitely be an excellent purchase for the collector who desires an attractive, collectible and extremely rare chronograph wristwatch from a world-renowned traditional watch brand, one of the undisputed leaders in the haute horlogerie watch market. The present lot is remarkable as the one of the rarest 25721ST sub-references, with a refined, notable and instantly recognisable almost monochrome silvery appearance, exotic for the aggressively designed Royal Oak Offshore mainstream. This is certainly a must-have for the discerning collector. At the same time this is a real Offshore – noticeable, impressive and charismatic, with a heavy 42mm stainless steel case and bracelet, ‘grande tapisserie’ dial, and high-end craftsmanship characteristic for the brand’s production, making the present lot not only a collectible, but also a highly desirable daily wearer.