Founded in 1875, Audemars Piguet was born in the town of Le Brassus. Situated in the Vallée de Joux, the connection between the land and watchmaking in Le Brassus runs deep. The abundant natural resources, from forests to water, ice, and iron-ore rocks, provided the perfect foundation for the watch industry to grow. And, despite its humble roots, Audemars Piguet has reached dizzying heights as one of the world’s most respected luxury watchmakers.

Audemars Piguet’s iconic 8-sided, riveted case is a contemporary cultural icon at this point. Populating hip-hop lyrics and Sotheby’s auctions alike, Audemars Piguet is no stranger to the finer things in life, but the brand’s new Royal Oak Offshore connects Audemars Piguet’s roots with its refined contemporary image.

First released in 1993, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore defies established conventions, building on the inimitable Royal Oak shape with a sportier feel and even more powerful construction. The 43mm titanium case is topped with a hard-wearing grey ceramic bezel, coupled with a Méga Tapisserie dial for a refreshing take on AP signatures. An interchangeable rubber strap is instrumental in the new, optimized wrist fit and is finished with a titanium pin buckle, proving that no stone is left unturned in the design.

But while we could explore the rugged design in granular detail, we decided to find someone who could prove the watch’s ability to push boundaries. That’s why we enlisted the help of Mich Kemeter, a record-breaking slackliner, climber, base jumper, and, as it happens, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore disciple.

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Highsnobiety / Bas van Est
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Highsnobiety / Bas van Est

If you were to ask Mich what he does, he’d glide past the broken world records and stomach-turning base jumps, “The most important thing is that I’m a person who spreads happiness by doing what we all love, living life fully and authentically. In reality, I’m a tourist; I can’t call myself an extreme sports athlete.” He’s not lying, but he’s also not telling the whole truth. He’s a busy man, and time’s precious, so when he does get a moment to breathe he slows everything down. “Meditation and regeneration are my keys to success. The preparation is the most important factor in achieving a goal.”

That’s what really comes across in our chat with Mich — the sheer amount of moving parts behind any expedition. From mental preparation to ensuring that every piece of kit is in good condition, to working out timings down to the minute. In Mich’s world, a second can be the difference between life and death.

It takes one second to take a step off a cliff in Verdon, for example, and around four seconds of free fall at a velocity of 180 kilometers per hour before Mich pulls his parachute. "There is no place for fear. No place for panic. No room for mistakes. It’s pure enjoyment. Time feels as though it doesn’t exist,” explains Mich when we ask how it feels to base jump, “When all of that happens at once, you feel like you’re in a different world. A world so peaceful, beautiful, and endless. All it takes is one step, and you’re part of it.”

While it might seem as though time doesn’t exist, a second more of free fall and Mich would be dangerously close to the ground. That’s when trusty kit comes into the picture. Mich introduces us to the concept of the flow, “It’s being in a state of the highest concentration for a long time span, just living in the moment.” But every second spent in the flow is tracked by the Royal Oak Offshore strapped to Mich’s wrist. Reliability and precision embodied, the piece maps Mich’s checkpoints down to the millisecond, ensuring that he’s always on time.

Not just anything can be part of Mich’s cargo, either. Mich explains that since 2010, when he gained renown for a 103m slackline over Green lake in his hometown of Tragöss Oberort, the equipment has developed so much as to push him to perform better. “Slacklining was still new to the grand public in 2010, and I could really push the sport both mentally and physically. The sport is old, but the equipment wasn’t up to date. The technology evolved over the years and made it much safer, which gave me the confidence to perform at the breaking edge of the sport.”

It makes sense, then, that for Mich quality is the only measure for whether something is usable. While a new brand appears each day promising style, Mich notes that “Only a few brands mark themselves out of the sea of names. The quality speaks for itself.”

So while we may all be familiar with Audemars Piguet gracing celebrity wrists, the new Royal Oak Offshore acts as a time machine (no pun intended). The future-facing design that makes it the perfect tool for explorers and boundary-breakers is also what connects it to the mountain town of Le Brassus. When reliable, high-quality equipment is the only option, the Royal Oak Offshore steps up to the plate, facilitating seemingly impossible feats on the wrists of people like Mich. Oh, and if you were wondering if anything actually scares Mich anymore, “Of course. To live a normal life with a daily routine.”

Shop the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore here.

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