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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Survivor Luxury Watch Review

Watchuwant is now WatchBox! Subscribe for the best luxury watch content. The 1,000-piece limited edition Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Survivor was a watch for its times. Launched into the maelstrom of the 2008 global financial crisis, the 42mm black titanium Survivor was both a child of late '00s economic exuberance and nightmarish microcosm of a world gone made. Laden with weapons imagery and designed for post apocalyptic "active life-stylers" (e.g., Highway Warriors), the Royal Oak Offshore remains the most controversial Audemars Piguet ever offered. 2008 was the year everything blew up. Lehman Brothers. Bear Sterns. Wall Street. Detroit. Like the crisis itself, the Royal Oak Offshore Survivor was launched in a series of disparate introductions outside the traditional SIHH/Baselworld watch industry trade shows. More than the latest in a seemingly unending succession of AP Royal Oak Offshore limited Editions, the Survivor has proved to a high water mark for that trend: a strident statement of brash style that AP would never surpass. Between 2003, when AP launched the 48mm Royal Oak Offshore T3, to 2011, when another Schwarzenegger "48," the "Legacy," effectively ended the run, Royal Oak Offshore limited series became a breeding ground for experimentation and outright excess in Le Brassus, Switzerland. But the 2008 Survivor topped them all, and it remains AP's reigning champion of wicked whimsey to this day. Although nominally 42mm in diameter, the dystopic imagery of the Survivor reads like an arsenal out of "The Road Warrior." Spring-loaded chronograph pusher guards evoke the action and sensation of arming a grenade; the crown of the watch would look at home as the muzzle brake of a Barrett .50 cal; the model-exclusive "Survivor" rubber strap is a dead ringer for the ammo belt of a tripod machine gun; vertical grille texture on the ceramic bezel mirrors the heat sink of a large automatic rifle; viewing constant seconds sub-dial at 12 o'clock is like staring down the sight of a sniper rifle; drilled lug flanks would look at home on a Heckler & Koch 416. Forget the Audemars Piguet "Tour Auto" series; the Survivor is a driver's watch designed for Mad Max. But like the Highlander, there can only be one "ultimate" example of any trend. While cynics decried the Survivor as the latest step into a permanent sea change in Audemars Piguet design sensibility, the opposite proved to be true. By the 2012 40th anniversary of the original Gerald Genta Royal Oak, the ludicrous parade of Offshore variants had slowed to a trickle and by 2013, the Offshore line was culled to a bare minimum of references. The 2008 Offshore Survivor stands atop the rubble of a bygone world of irrational exuberance, excess, and fantasy made real. It's a monument to a moment in time, instantly recognizable, and revered by AP collectors who understand its totally unique status in the pantheon of significant Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore models. The greatest surprise when taking a Royal Oak Offshore Survivor in hand is the striking quality of each outlandish element. Far from a fashion watch, the Survivor is an Audemars Piguet with all that marquee name implies. Its distinctive articulated pusher guards open and close with crisp spring-loaded action reminiscent of a rifle bolt; the individual guards are held from contact with the PVD titanium case by minuscule rubber bump stops; the model-exclusive rubber strap is softer and more comfortable than virtually any other AP hide or rubber option; the CNC machining on the entire case is of surgical quality. Applied white gold hour indices, crisp white print, and immaculate guilloche work animate a dial born of high horology and eschatology in equal measure. An Audemars Piguet caliber 3126 with 3840 vertical-clutch chronograph module provide precision and strength in equal measure. Its 50-hour power reserve decisively trumps the 40-hour autonomy of the older 2326 base movement. In the interest of true sports watch durability, a free-sprung balance with dual-anchored balance bridge keeps the movement beating through shocks that would derail or even disable the more delicate JLC-based 2326. High-efficiency ceramic winding rotor bearings improve winding rate, and their unlubricated races require no maintenance. Finally, because this is Audemars Piguet’s own movement, the standard of finish has been improved over the already impressive JLC-based 2326 predecessor. Serious collectors are encouraged to view the sole Survivor in high-resolution images on: https://www.thewatchbox.com/watches/audemars-piguet Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/watchbox/ WatchBox Reviews Channel: https://www.youtube.com/WatchBoxReviews Video and content by Tim Mosso.