I have to confess, when I suggested this title to the team at Xupes, I secretly really, really hoped they would allow me to go for it. And here we are. It sees the confluence of two passions of mine, watches and sport. In the next page or two we dive into five sporting collaborations that AudemarsPiguet created with its ambassadors, some big, some gold and some you may not have seen before - let’s get into it.
It was 1972 and Audemars Piguet had just launched the Royal Oak. Not only did the industry raise an eyebrow at its aesthetic, but also its price. For a stainless-steel sports watch, it was wildly expensive. The bracelet allegedly costing more to make than the watch itself. It went on to become an icon, shape the category or sport chic and the rest is history. 1993 saw the launch of the blown up Offshore, which changed the game again. First up, the Indian cricketing maestro, Sachin Tendulkar.
Sachin maybe known as a record run scorer, but he is also a huge watch fan (apparently). He created two limited editions with AP over the years, but the one that caught my eye was the pink gold chronograph here. Its self-winding with date display and small seconds, grande tapisserie pattern, silvered counters, and pink gold hour-markers and hands with luminescent coating. 18-carat pink gold case, brown dial, brown strap and limited edition of 150. Cricket lovers will note the hand-stitched crocodile strap with triple stitching in orange, white and green. And the classic 39mm case has always been spot on in my mind.
We all remember the great times on the track for Micheal, we also all have him in our minds following his horrific skiing accident a few years back. It was in 2012 that AP and the driving legend took a hands-on role in designing a new watch bearing his name. A selfwinding chronograph with date display and small seconds at 12 o'clock, titanium case and cermet bezel. It was limited to 1000 pieces. The grey anthracite dial with méga tapisserie is sublime, balancing off the black counters, white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating and tachymeter scale. The twelve and one o'clock markers to commemorate his seven Formula One World Championships. The seven stars are divided into two colours; two blue stars honouring Schumacher's victories with Benetton and five red stars honouring his victories with Ferrari. The calendar wheel is black, and the date font is red. The case is 44m in titanium which makes it a little comfier to wear.
The Shaquille O'neal Offshore dropped in 2007. Limited 960 pieces in stainless steel and sized appropriate to the man at 48mm! With a black dial and numbers 3 & 2 coloured red for his Jersey Number, the watch features a fully automatic 60-hour power reserve chronograph movement with date display, it comes complete with original basketball box and booklets. This is not one for the faint hearted – it’s a beast!
In 2013, the basketball superstar for the Miami Heat produced one of the most striking collaborations from AP I have ever see. This 44mm rose gold and titanium cased Chronograph was produced in a series of 600 unites in 2013. It’s a selfwinding chronograph with date display and small seconds at 12 o'clock. 18-carat pink gold case, titanium bezel. The case back is engraved with the legend “Royal Oak Offshore Limited Edition Lebron James”, LBJ signature printed in blue on the sapphire crystal, titanium bezel, black ceramic crown. It features black ceramic pusher, diamond-set pusher at 2 o’clock, pink gold and grey rubber pusher guards, Grey dial with méga tapisserie pattern set off by pink gold applied Arabic numerals. It one you need to see in the metal to believe.
In 2012, the footballing legend teamed up with AP to launch the Royal Oak Leo Messi Limited Edition. Based on the new (at the time) 41mm Royal Oak chronograph, it came in three different variations.
500 pieces in steel with a tantalum bezel, anthracite dial and leather strap (keep in mind steel Royal Oaks did not normally come on leather straps). 400 rose gold, with a tantalum bezel, anthracite strap and dial and a platinum with a tantalum bezel, and a dark blue strap and dial - limited to 100 pieces worldwide.
You will notice that these 1000 pieces do not have the trademark tapisserie motif, really setting them apart from wheat we have become accustomed to from AP in the Royal Oak. Each watch came in a case in the shape of a lacquered shoe box decorated on the inside. We are fortunate enough to have one beautiful reference in stock here.