How does one follow a classic? As with any redesign, or in-house homage to an extant icon, manufacturers are often met with internal and external resistance when they begin the creation process. This was held true throughout the process of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore in 1989.
Commissioned by Stephen Urquhart, who was at that time serving as Joint Chairman and Delegate of the Board of Directors at Audemars Piguet, to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Royal Oak’s launch (that took place in 1972 after its design had been conceived in a single night back in 1970), the project fell to a young second-generation designer named Emmanuel Gueit.
Nicknamed ‘the Beast, the size of the piece was seen as prohibitively enormous in those days, although by modern standards the 42mm diameter (excluding the crown) and the 15mm case thickness, seems almost conservative.
Despite resistance to the design, Urquhart believed in his young protege and pushed ahead. He named the watch the ‘Royal Oak Offshore’ and pushed the project to completion, debuting the new model at Baselworld in 1993.