The turn of the new century has heralded a new era for popular culture: we are living in Hollywood’s comic-book age. Superheroes are getting increasingly popular as their movies are seen by billions. Inspired by historical character watches, including some of Gérald Genta’s timepieces from the 1980s, Audemars Piguet announced a few weeks ago their partnership with Marvel Entertainment and its intention to pay tribute to their inspirational superheroes and powerful universe. The brand now unveils the first watch born from this partnership. Meet the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Flying Tourbillon replica watch.
When Audemars Piguet announced their collaboration with Marvel, many wondered what would the platform to stage Stan Lee’s popular comic characters and universe. A new collection? Code 11.59? The Royal Oak Offshore? Audemars Piguet elected the Royal Oak Concept, which has always been, since its presentation in 2002, the brand’s lab for experimentation… And it has been significantly remodelled for the occasion of this Marvel partnership.
First, the faceted Royal Oak Concept case now comes in a new intermediate 42mm size – versus 44mm and 38.5mm for the models currently in the collection. It will thus sit more easily on most wrists, compared to the current gent’s size. Secondly, its design has been modernized with a new profile and a curved sapphire crystal, framed by an equally curved bezel – the curve goes from 12 to 6 o’clock. The perception of the angular case design and sculpted volume is also significantly changed by the addition of satin-brushed titanium inserts reminiscent of air intakes.
Made of lightweight sandblasted and brushed titanium, this 42mm Royal Oak Concept Black Panther is topped by a brushed and glossy black ceramic octagonal bezel, with the classic hexagonal screws. The crown is also executed in ceramic, for a high-tech look. Overall, the case feels more compact, and even more dynamic and technical than before. And as for any Royal Oak, the case finishing is outstanding with alternating satin-brushed, sandblasted and polished surfaces.
This remodelled Royal Oak Concept brings together a flying tourbillon movement and a 3D white gold miniature rendition of Black Panther. If the superhero theme is unconventional for the Haute Horlogerie and métiers d’art-themed watches, the execution and detailing is quite impressive. Culturally relevant for some or controversial for others, we’ll leave the decision to you. The details adorning Black Panther’s body are hand-engraved and then hand-painted. 30 hours of work are necessary to engrave, paint and bring the Marvel superhero to life.
Flip the Royal Oak Concept Black Panther over and the exhibition caseback, secured by 8 screws, offers an unimpeded view of the hand-wound Calibre 2965. Originally presented in 2018 in this ROC watch, the flying tourbillon movement runs at 3Hz and is in full display at 6 o’clock. The movement can store 72-hours of power reserve when fully wound. It comes in a new variation – hence the new 2965 reference number – standing out with its unprecedented finishing featuring uneven geometric titanium patterns on the bridges, executed with grey and black PVD coating.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Flying Tourbillon (ref. 26620IO.OO.D077CA.01) is released in a limited edition of 250 pieces. It is worn on an integrated purple rubber strap fitted with a titanium folding clasp. The watch comes with a spare black rubber strap. The price will be CHF 150,000.
A unique piece featuring an 18k white gold case and bezel entirely engraved by hand with a motif inspired by Marvel’s Black Panther character was also auctioned on the occasion of the digital live show from Los Angeles to present the watch. The funds raised will support the long-term educational programme Audemars Piguet has established with First Book and Ashoka. Serena Williams, Ian Poulter and Anthony Joshua also auctioned dedicated lots. This unique watch was auctioned for USD 5.2 million, the highest price ever achieved by an AP watch at auction.
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