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kilyung

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 26176FO.OO.D101CR.01 (Bumblebee)

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I'm a big fan of Audemars Piguet. While I have ecclectic horological tastes, it's safe to say that I gravitate towards sporty watches. When I think of sport watches, two brands immediately pop into mind - Rolex and Audemars Piguet. There are many similarities between the two brands: family run, class leading customer services, and a rich history. However, what separates these two brands from the rest of the pack is styling. Rolex's Oyster case is widely recognized and AP's Royal Oak derived styling is unique. Most of us can identify an AP or Rolex from ten paces away.

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These are my thoughts on the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 26176FO.OO.D101CR.01 (aka, Bumblebee). Introduced at SIHH 2009, it's been a uniquely polarizing model. It's use of carbon and ceramics are widely applauded but the bright yellow color has its detractors. Many wish it had been toned down, maybe wanting the inner ring to be black or gray, much like the EOD model. Honestly, I was in that camp myself. I had often looked at the Bumblebee and said, "Wow is that LOUD!" I got the Bumblebee mainly as a temporary diversion from the new carbon/ceramic Diver that I desperately wanted but I have to say that the yellow color isn't as bright as pictures portray it to be. In fact, it's a a nice contrast to the WG screws and all that black.

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The Bumblebee's case is made of forged carbon. I've read it referred to as "stealth wealth exterior" due to the high cost associated with the carbon cases. First raw carbon fibers are unrolled, measured and cut. The small strands of carbon are then weighed on a digital scale, where they must be accurate to 1/100th of a gram. If the weight is off, even a hundredth of a gram, the process will not work. The weighed fibers are sealed in a small, dust-free container and taken to an adjacent room. Here, the carbon fibers are inserted into a metal mold for forging. This is done within a work surface that features a semi-sealed electronic dust filtration system. Dust can easily cause a piece to be rejected, so many steps are taken to prevent this. After being precisely placed in the mold (to insure uniformity), the mold is placed in an oven. Once the proper temperature is achieved, the mold is placed in a liquid-cooled forging machine and forging begins. After 15-minutes the mold is quickly removed and placed in a vice. The final piece is then carefully extracted from the mold, using a heavy-duty torque press. Each piece is immediately hand inspected and cleaned by the same person who made it. If it passes this inital quality check, it is moved to another department for further quality control. If it passes these additional checks, it is sent to the manufacturing department for final finishing. Finally, it is ready to be used on an AP timepiece. The case is nominally 42mm wide and 14.3mm thick. It is water resistant to 100m (330 ft).

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AP's RO and ROO models have always been known for exceptional finishing. This is particularly true of the steel bezels with their contrasting brushed/polished finishes and sharp edges. Ceramic is the ultimate material for AP ROOs as it will resist scratches and reduce the chances of dings. It is however, like all ceramics, a brittle material and can crack if hit just right. Replacement costs of the bezel are in-line with Rolex... in other words, expensive.

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The caseback is a simple steel engraved cover with PVD coating. PVD is durable and time tested so it's a good choice. A clear caseback would have added more weight, risked water resistance, and stylistically isn't right for a true sports watch.

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The case houses AP's caliber 3126/3840 automatic chronograph movement. It uses the robust in-house 3120 as a base movement and adds the famous Valle de Joux module maker, Dubois Depraz. A magnifying loupe is used to enlarge the recessed date that results from the movement's modular construction. Some may dismiss the DD module but it is a robust and reliable module finished and assembled by AP themselves. Comprising 365 components, the 7.16mm-tall movement features a number of desirable elements, including a full balance bridge, a free-sprung Gyromax balance wheel, and a power reserve of over 60 hours. The 59-jewel movement beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour and features a massive central rotor in 22K gold, which winds the mainspring bidirectionally.

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The Bumblebee comes with a Hornback alligator strap on single fold deployant. It is a very nice quality strap (and expensive to replace). It features dual yellow piping on the sides and tapers from 29mm to 18mm in order to fit the 18mm PVD coated titanium single-fold deployant.

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I feel that the plots (what connects the band to the case) interferes with the way the band/bracelets hug my wrists. On regular lug cases, the bands rotate around the springbar/screw thus enabling the band to hug even the smallest of wrists. On the ROO case, the plots have virtually no play so the band flares out before the strap's flexibility allows it to bend back to the wrist. This means that larger wrists or flattened wrists have no problems but small round wrists would find a comfortable fit challenging. I found the hornback strap to be a little stiff and thus wraps poorly around my wrist. Given time and wear, I expect it would improve. While I like the setup, it does leave a lasting impression if worn too tightly. Which I had to, in order to avoid having the watch flop around on my wrist. YMMV.

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A simple fix for this fitment problem for me was to install the AP ROO Diver 24mm rubber strap. It's more flexible, non-tapered, and tang buckled. This gives me a much better fit.

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ROOs are also well known for their tapisserie dials. This black waffle dial is a marvel to behold and is made in-house by AP.

The "bumble bee" yellow inner tachymeter scale on outer edge of dial is very evident. One of my gripes about the dial/bezel is that the minute markers are not very easy to see. So trying to set the time to 3:13 can be difficult as the minute markers are not well defined.

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The WG hands and hour markers are numinous. While not the brightest in my collection, it is more than adequate to tell the time in the dark.

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The dial contains the usual three subdials at 6/9/12. The subdial at 12 is running seconds while 6 & 9 are chrono functions. I find this format a little annoying because there are two seconds every minute where I can't tell the second because the chrono second hand is in the way - it's a nit pick but still annoying.

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Overall, I love my ownership experience with the Bumblebee so far. It's a very sporty watch with proven reliability and it stands apart from most other watches out in the wild. It matches well with nearly everything I wear and doesn't look weird on me.

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Thanks for reading!

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Mike, thanks for taking time to describe how the process to make the watch case actually takes place, and the review of how the ROO\Bumblee actually wears.

Very informative, and extremely well written.

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A very well drawn out review Mike! Makes me actually want to go back to the boutique and buy one! Let's see what happens after October when I get to handle a Sky Dweller...

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Thanks for taking the time to write this!

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First, THANK you for this review. Second, I too have went with a rubber strap but used the 'normal, older' style as found on the RCs.

I tried the newer one on the Buemi the other day, and I am S O L D!!!

Truth be told, I was NOT a fan of the newer rubbers when I tried them on the 44mm ROOs!

Yup, the lines on the newer 44mm vs the Diver/Buemi make a difference to me!

Third, I was inspecting my watch, dazzled and in love with the exploration, when I figured I would do some research; thus finding this thread and hence these questions:

1. Are we certain the screws are white gold?

I would imagine they 'have' to be, or 'better' be; yet I also read (online) that they were steel. Any source to finalize whether they are WG or SS?

2. Are the original plots on the BB made of black ceramic, or PVD steel?

3. The caseback is 100% PVD steel, and no layers of it are Ceramic?

4. On the deployant, the clasp that appears above the strap with the engraved "Audemars Piguet"; is that PVD steel as well?

5. What is the piece with the AP logo on the winder made of?

6. Finally, is the brushed-finish ceramic bezel made of a single block with the polished part underneath it, just over the rubber seal?

I love my watch more every day, and sincerely wish our friends here will someday share the experience!

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