The White Dial Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tour Auto Replica Watch, red highlights on the hands, and blue chrono subdials are perfectly aligned with the motoring aesthetic of the mid-20th century, and nod to the colours of the French flag while they’re about it. And the presentation box for the Offshore Tour Auto 2012 includes a watch display case designed to look like an air filter from a vintage sports car.
To enter the rally, you must own a machine manufactured between 1951 and 1973. And that means that, for five days out of every year, the Optic 2000 route becomes a flood of glittering, polished, highly-coloured steel and chrome. At night, every bar is awash with drivers and navigators (you must have a navigator to compete) recounting the day’s motoring adventures.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Replica Watch had been releasing limited-edition ‘Tour Auto’ watches for a few years prior to the 2012 model: like the Tour Auto 2008, which had a black dial instead of a white one. Its applied Arabic numerals are done in the classic Royal Oak font: though thanks to their slightly blued colour against that white background, they also manage to look like the identifying numbers on a racing car. And the familiar octagonal dial and bold stainless steel case (42 mm) boast the level of polishing and brushing you would expect on any Royal Oak.
Outside of these touches, the Royal Oak Offshore Tour Auto 2012 is recognisably a member of the Royal Oak family. Its dial has the mega-tapisserie pattern that is the signature of the breed.
The Audemars Piguet Replica Watch (Audemars Piguet ref 26208ST.OO.D305CR.01) hits the sweet spot for commemorating such a gathering of classic automobiles. Its blue leather bracelet has the same subdued hue as a racing seat in an old Alfa Romeo, and is beautifully highlighted with red stitching. The watches were designed to commemorate the Tour Auto Optic 2000, a super-high-cachet five-day rally that wanders around France’s most beautiful countryside and along its most famous roads.