Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Michael Schumacher Limited Edition By Angus Davies
Some words in life have lost their value. I often hear the term “great,” “greatest,” and “legend,” leave the lips of many, but the words are casually bandied to describe the ordinary, mediocre, or disposable.
The Collaboration of Two Icons
As I sat on the front row of a press conference at Kraftwerk in Berlin, a former power station, I listened to Michael Schumacher. Statistically, he is the most successful Formula One racing driver ever. He has won the greatest number of Formula One World Championships, seven in total.
Michael can also claim to have had the greatest number of Grand Prix Victories, 91 in total. He broke the records with the greatest number of pole positions, 68. He has the record for the greatest number of fastest laps recorded in a single Grand Prix, 76. The list of records is remarkable.
When describing Michael Schumacher, the words “great” and “greatest” are deserved. However, during the press conference, a journalist remarked about Michael being a “legend,” this did not sit comfortably with him. He remarked, “The word legend is interesting. You usually hear that when you are not alive anymore.” Michael’s sense of humor came across. I personally think a more apt term would have been “icon.”
I listened to Michael intently, an avid Formula One fan, I have followed his career from his early days with Jordan and Benetton. He has pushed his body to the physical limit of endurance, seeking a competitive edge wherever he could. He has always sought to eke out an extra tenth of a second here and there, maximizing every minute detail.
Michael has jet-set around the globe during his career. He is only 15 months younger than me, yet, as I looked at his face while he stood next to me, he looked 20 years younger, though he has pushed his body and mind to the limit. Age has been kind to Michael.
It was obvious as he chatted that he is academically adroit and verbally dexterous as he fielded questions on a variety of topics.
Herr Schumacher admitted that he had a passion for watches from a young age. He received some watches from his grandfather when he was eight or nine years old, and he was very proud of them. And as a young boy “hid them, so good, that when we moved houses” he couldn’t find them.
Michael does not know what happened to the watches and continues to lament their disappearance. Followers of Freud will no doubt argue that this childhood experience led to his passion for watches.
Whilst Michael has worked with another watch brand in the past, his role with Audemars Piguet goes beyond the usual Ambassador status. He has been actively involved with Octavio Garcia, Audemars Piguet’s Chief Artistic Officer, in the design of this limited-edition timepiece.
Formula One is about mastering the smallest of details and working within the boundaries of rules laid down by the F.I.A.
Audemars Piguet also masters the smallest horological details and produces amazing timepieces. But, Audemars Piguet actively seeks to break the rules, exceeding the perceived boundaries with devastatingly desirable results.
The collaboration between the two icons was inevitable. Michael would often pass the manufacture in Le Brassus while riding his bike in his free time. And he admits he always wondered what it was like inside the factory. Approximately 15 years ago, his friend and team principal at Scuderia Ferrari, Jean Todt, introduced him to the Audemars Piguet brand. His appreciation of the mechanical prowess of the artisans from Le Brassus was profound, and he described being a “huge fan of Audemars Piguet”from that day forward.
I have taken you around the formation lap, let the lights turn green and discover the curves and straights that form this high-performance horological experience.
The timepiece is available in three variants: titanium, pink gold, and platinum. The titanium version is my favored model, the combination of colors is the most resolved, in my opinion, and fiscally this is the most accessible.
The choice of case material determines the hues depicted on the dial.
The Méga Tapisserie dial center is faithful to the first Offshore models of 1992, in this instance presented in anthracite.
Framing the central section is a chapter ring decorated with a pattern of black and white squares. They represent the numerous checkered flags Michael has passed on his way to the top of the podium.
The brand’s soubriquet and logo are presented at 3 o’clock, adjacent to the date aperture.
Red text on a black background is used for the date. An unusual color combination, the red color works well. The date is deep-set within the dial, and this is the only aspect I would change. I would have liked the date disc to be nearer the surface of the dial to enhance legibility.
Eight white gold applied batons mark the hours except for 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and noon. These have double white gold applied batons.
A 12-hour chrono counter resides at 6 o’clock, and a 30-minute chrono counter is located at 9 o’clock. Both sub-dials are black on the titanium version, matching the dominant color of the chapter ring and date function. The hands on the two sub-dials are red.
At noon a black sub-dial is used for subsidiary seconds, but this time it is equipped with a white hand. The judicious use of color differentiates the chrono and non-chrono functions. Red is reserved for the stopwatch and white for the hours, minutes, and small seconds.
A tachymeter scale is presented on an anthracite inner bezel ring. It features seven stars, two blue and five red, depicting the World Championships won with Benetton and Scuderia Ferrari, respectively.
There is much detail on the dial, but nothing is extraneous, everything coalesces wonderfully.
A case diameter of 44mm is a good size for the majority of potential wearers. My own physique is very different from Michael’s honed torso, yet, I am sure the watch would look equally as handsome on my wrist.
The case is constructed of grade 5 titanium. This metal is used in the aerospace and medical industries. It is very strong and incredibly light.
Cermet is used for the bezel. It is very hard-wearing and virtually scratch-proof. Michael explained that he wears his watches in his daily life, including when he is working on his karts. He wanted the watch to be robust, eschew scratches, and preserve its pristine looks.
Eight polished stainless steel bezel screws spangle in the light and brilliantly contrast with the brushed appearance of the neighboring Cermet and titanium.
The rectangular chrono pushers are composed of polished black ceramic, topped with a micro-blasted titanium cap. The center of the pushers is slightly hollowed, reminding me of a race engine where surplus material is removed to save weight.
The crown comprises 5 arms and is designed to resemble a gear wheel. On the vertical flank of the crown, a red anodized aluminum plate resides bearing the Audemars Piguet logo.
Michael explained that red is his favorite color. The grey rubber strap on the titanium version attaches to the case with titanium studs. They are adorned with a pattern emulating the cooling ducts of a Formula One car.
I am a fan of Audemars Piguet, acquiring my own AP many years ago before I wrote about watches. However, one frustration I have had is that some models harness incredible craftsmanship within the case but hide it from view. I always prefer watches that indulge my voyeuristic need to see the movement. This model does deliver a view, courtesy of the sapphire caseback.
Several former Offshore models had a solid caseback. So, I asked Michael if he had asked for the sapphire caseback in order to “view the engine of the watch.” He confirmed he was involved in the decision, “To see what happens inside the watch is something I like a lot.”
Surrounding the window on the caseback, the design represents the profile of the spokes of a race car’s wheel.
Behind Michael’s handsome tanned face, there is a brilliant mind. He fielded questions from the assembled journalists on a variety of topics with the same deftness he employs when clipping the apexes of Tamborello.
This watch has an equally elevated intellect. Behind the august lines, mechanical excellence beats at a frequency of 21,600 vph (3 Hz).
Michael is the greatest in his field, and in choosing to become part of the Audemars Piguet family, he has joined forces with one of the best in the business. The finissage of the Calibre 3126 / 3840 is exemplary. A total of 365 parts are flawlessly presented.
The first thing to catch the eye is the 22-carat gold rotor. It has been subjected to anthracite galvanic treatment and features the Michael Schumacher logo and Audemars Piguet nomenclature. Even this oscillating weight captures the architecture of modern performance cars with the two open sections representing the NACA ducts used to mitigate drag.
The bridges are rhodium, hand beveled, snailed, and feature a Côtes de Genève motif. Beyond this, perlage is visible on the mainplate.
The screws are peerlessly polished, and the product of patience and skill. The balance bridge perfectly demonstrates the time-consuming nature of the hand beveling done by the artisans from Le Brassus.
Those who share my passion for the finishing found in the finest examples of haute horology will admire the view of this movement. If I owned this watch, I would spend many happy hours wearing my micro-fiber gloves, loupe located in my right eye socket, lost in a world of unparalleled mechanical accomplishment.
Few brand ambassadors quite match Michael. He carefully guards his reputation and his brand. His career is punctuated with numerous successes, and he obviously seeks to protect his good name.
He could have chosen to work with any watch brand, but by judiciously selecting Audemars Piguet, he has found a true partner. Michael has clearly enjoyed working with Octavio Garcia, and this is evident when he talks of his watch with pride.
I am a fan of Michael and Audemars Piguet, and this watch is an expression of both my passions.
Is this the perfect watch? No. As I am sure Michael will attest, absolute perfection is elusive, and that is why he continues to seek a competitive advantage in all aspects of his life.
Would I wish to own the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Michael Schumacher Limited Edition? Yes. The titanium model would make a wonderful addition to my collection and grace my wrist admirably.
I don’t think this will be the last collaboration we will see between Michael and Octavio. And based on this model, I eagerly await the next chapter in Michael’s horological career.
Model: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Michael Schumacher Limited Edition
Model reference: 26568IM.OO.A004CA.01
Case: Titanium case with Cermet bezel; diameter 44mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and caseback.
Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph
Movement: Calibre 3126 / 3840; Self-winding movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 59 jewels; 55 hours power reserve.
Strap: Grey rubber strap with a titanium pin buckle
(Images by Audemars Piguet & Angus Davies)