Audemars Piguet’s reputation for quality was firmly established on its legacy of high horology timepieces beginning in 1875. In 1972, with the release of the Royal Oak, AP’s brand identity was changed for eternity. The Royal Oak introduced AP to a new market, attracting a younger, more adventurous and less buttoned-up audience. Today, the Royal Oak is more than a high end timepiece; it’s a status symbol in large part favored and celebrated by significant figures within the music industry. This new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore “Music Edition” 77600TI is a celebration of the music industry and its support of Audemars Piguet. The Royal Oak Offshore Music Edition 37mm is limited to 500 pieces in titanium.
When the Royal Oak was first released, it was the most expensive steel watch ever retailed for commercial sale. Over 50 years later, the industry has embraced the stainless steel luxury integrated bracelet sports watch and never looked back. With AP’s unorthodox release, they challenged the norms of an industry that was accustomed to wafer thin, ultra complicated, high horology timepieces. Although at first many critics were reluctant to accept this modernist approach to watchmaking, the watches gained popularity over time, inspiring the rest of the industry to follow with creations like the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Vacheron Constantin 222 (which laid the groundwork for the Overseas collection). For an in-depth overview of the Royal Oak’s decorated and celebrated legacy view our past article here. In 2022, Audemars Piguet released 5 distinct models in a set of limited “Music Edition” references — two in 37mm, and three at 43mm.
The design of the Offshore “Music Edition” revolves around AP’s coloring of the tapisserie dial to depict a musical VU meter equalizer. The columns of the equalizer, each set with different colors of pigment, help to construct one of the most vibrant and striking dials in AP’s repertoire. The blue dial base complements the “constellation” patterned blue rubber strap to tie the color schemes together. The pattern of the strap itself becomes a significant feature of the piece’s communicated appearance, with a slightly undulating graining applied to the surface that contributes a more refined appearance than its plain rubber alternatives. Additionally, this three dimensional strap texture accentuates the three dimensionality of the characteristic tapisserie dial. Nonetheless, AP sold the Music Edition with an additional two straps in yellow and green for those seeking greater contrast. The beauty of the multicolor dial is that it allows the piece to be combined easily with almost any strap color. In addition to the dial and strap, AP has chosen to craft the 37mm variant of the Music Edition from titanium. Often referred to as “gray metal”, when placed next to the blue color scheme, titanium provides a subtly muted blue slate hue.
For additional texture and three dimensionality, Audemars Piguet has added both knurling and jimping to the strap-lug link system and the crown guards. The two center links are finished to mimic the pattern of a guitar jack, while the crown guard design is meant to imitate the appearances of the fader on a mixing board. To this end, the crown guards sit inside grooves that resemble the slides of a fader.
In the high view, the Music Edition highlights the overall design objectives of Audemars Piguet with the Royal Oak. Royal Oak timepieces are constructed to be equally appreciated by both the connoisseur and the layman. Although the finishing of the case is an exceptional piece of work on its own, demonstrating AP’s mastery of high polish and vertical graining on broad surfaces, AP is also renowned within a community that knows little of the finer elements of watchmaking. Much like Rolex, many customers have been introduced to AP as a status symbol and a cultural icon representing success and accomplishment. The case design is instantly recognizable as Audemars Piguet, and although many reasonably criticize AP for becoming a “one-watch brand”, it is not for no reason that Audemars Piguet has leaned so heavily into this model line. A large part of the brand’s success is reliant on the endorsement and respect that AP has received from rap and music stars. Harry Styles, Justin Bieber, Quavo, Jay-Z and many others have all sported Royal Oaks, and the octagonal case shape has become associated with the industry. Through the patronage of these influencers, the brand’s popularity has grown, and in turn, the identity of the brand.
Powering the 37mm Offshore “Music Edition” is the automatic winding caliber 5909. This movement was also used on the stone-set rainbow series of timepieces made by AP and released in 2022. The caliber is robust in build and spec, with 29 jewels and 60 hours of power reserve. AP has intentionally withheld the date from this piece in an effort to leave the dial pattern unadulterated by excess complication. This allows the VU pattern to take center stage without distraction. The 5909 is visible through the sapphire caseback and features a sandblasted central rotor that contrasts artfully with the brighter bridges of the general movement architecture.
Versus the Competition
The most defining attribute of the Royal Oak Music Edition is its multicolor dial. Thus, the most natural alternatives are timepieces that share in the same playful, kaleidoscopic rainbow aesthetic. The iconic rainbow timepiece is the Rolex Rainbow Daytona both in rose gold with the reference 116595RBOW covered in our past article here, and in white gold, reference 116599RBOW. These pieces are the epitome of a hype watch that has transcended the scope and fascination of the watch industry and penetrated the general culture.
Similarly, within Audemars Piguet’s own repertoire, the white gold Royal Oak reference 15413BC combines a rainbow bezel with a full pave dial, arranged in concentric circles of diamonds. Replacing the painted dial color of the Music Edition with a gem-set bezel, the 15413 BC and the Rolex Rainbow Daytona are situated in a different price category but demonstrate the exceptional effect a striking color combination can have on a timepiece’s presentation.
Each timepiece is unified by its attention grabbing, shamelessly showy aesthetic and unapologetic aura of luxury. Whether wearing a Daytona or a Royal Oak, you are inherently buying into the cult-like following pop culture has fostered for the brands. This reputation is both a blessing and a curse, as some will undoubtedly gawk at the timepieces, where others will scoff at the ubiquitously recognizable status symbols. When sporting any one of these watches, the wearing experience is shared both by the owner, and the onlooker.
The collector of this timepiece likely fosters a love of music and timepieces. This piece meshes the legendary DNA of the Royal Oak with attributes and textures that are unique to this piece. Owning a limited piece from AP is a milestone goal for many collectors, and this particular option affords the possibility to connect two distinct passions within a single timepiece. Although the owner will most likely be involved in the music industry, it is entirely possible that a collector who appreciates the color scheme would gravitate toward this piece without any connection to music. The fact remains that there is ultimately no other Royal Oak with this appearance. This particular reference doesn’t take itself too seriously, and communicates a more relaxed interpretation of the Royal Oak design language of old.
Audemars Piguet is one of the most venerated watchmaking powerhouses in the industry. Beginning as a high horology maison, AP’s legacy was redefined by the Royal Oak, an appeal to the concept that a piece could be both steel and luxurious. The inarguable success of the Royal Oak is in large part testament to AP’s partnership with significant cultural figures outside of the immediate watch industry. The music industry, in particular, has catapulted the AP Royal Oak into a status previously unattainable. It has been a long time coming for AP to generate a piece that reflects this privileged relationship, and the resultant Music Edition limited to 500 pieces doesn’t disappoint.