On 10 April 2021, Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars revealed the first iteration of its Marvel Super Hero watch series, the Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon.
This limited edition of 250 pieces was revealed on April 10 during the brand’s virtual event “Audemars Piguet & Friends, Live Show from Los Angeles” in celebration of its new long-term collaboration with Marvel Entertainment.
The live event, which was publicly broadcast around the world, was hosted by stand-up comedian and actor Kevin Hart alongside Audemars Piguet’s Chief Executive Officer François-Henry Bennahmias, with LeBron James, Serena Williams, Ian Poulter, Anthony Joshua, Lu Han, Jon Gray and Mark Ronson in attendance.
The live show was accompanied by a dedicated auction to profit the long-term educational programme Audemars Piguet has established with non-profit organisations First Book and Ashoka, to support agents of change in low-income and historically excluded communities.
The auction was introduced by Kyle Zimmer – founder and CEO of First Book as well as Ashoka Board Member and Senior Fellow—and led by Michael Friedman, Head of Complications at Audemars Piguet, who worked in the past with leading auction houses including Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Antiquorum. Bidders from multiple countries competed for a chance to own one of four distinct auction lots – including a unique version of the Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon.
Rooted in ancestral craftsmanship and advanced technology, the limited-edition Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon celebrates the Manufacture’s long-held values of tradition, innovation and family embodied by Marvel’s Black Panther character. The futuristic design of this 42 mm watch, powered by Calibre 2965, recalls the cutting-edge suit of the Marvel Super Hero.
The dial brings together the pulsating flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock with a highly contemporary carved and hand-painted rendition of Marvel’s Black Panther, comprised of white gold.
A unique version of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon timepiece was auctioned off during the event to support the long-term educational programme Audemars Piguet has established with First Book and Ashoka.
This unique piece features an 18-carat white gold case and bezel entirely engraved by hand with a motif inspired by Marvel’s Black Panther character. The dial showcases a very detailed rendition of Black Panther, whose suit has been outlined with streaks of purple paint for a sharper contrast. The mention “Unique piece” is written on the purple inner bezel visible through the sapphire caseback.
For the occasion, Serena Williams, Ian Poulter and Anthony Joshua also auctioned off dedicated lots in profit of the educational programme developed by First Book, Ashoka and Audemars Piguet.
Audemars Piguet, Pop Culture and the Legacy of Character Watches
The first Mickey Mouse watch designed by Ingersoll in collaboration with Walt Disney started a pop culture phenomenon upon its release in 1933. Followed by numerous editions that were subsequently worn on the wrists of many celebrities, such as Grace Kelly, Andy Warhol and John Lennon, it paved the way for generations of character watches celebrating popular comic icons.
In the spirit of Ingersoll’s 1930s character watch, famed designer Gérald Genta released his first Mickey Mouse timepiece in 1984, after obtaining a license from the Walt Disney company to design a series of dedicated limited editions.
A pioneer, Gérald Genta blended fine watchmaking with animated dial display by combining the retrograde minute hand with the jumping hour. The collection entitled “Fantasy” developed over the years to encompass numerous Disney characters, culminating with the release in 2008 of the Gérald Genta Octo Ultimate Fantasy Mickey Mouse Tourbillon for the occasion of the iconic character’s 80th anniversary.
The octagonal case recalls Genta’s first Mickey Mouse watch, while subtly nodding to the Royal Oak case he designed for Audemars Piguet in 1972, which revolutionised the watchmaking industry and marked a turning point in his career.
Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon plays with these echoes of the past, while paying tribute to the Manufacture’s strong connection to pop culture and the entertainment industry.
In 1999, Arnold Schwarzenegger commissioned a personalised Royal Oak Offshore for his movie End of Days, marking the beginning of a series of commemorative timepieces designed by the Manufacture in collaboration with the Hollywood actor.
Since then, Audemars Piguet has collaborated with a variety of celebrities and athletes on personalised watch designs and developed many extraordinary friendships with friends of the brand including Jay-Z, Michael Schumacher, Serena Williams, Freida Pinto, Lu Han, Svetlana Zakharova and LeBron James.
Model: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon Unique Piece / 42 mm
Hand-wound Manufacture Calibre 2965
Total diameter: 31 mm (13 ¾ lignes)
Total thickness: 3.85 mm
Number of parts: 242
Number of jewels: 17
Minimum power reserve guaranteed: 72 h
Frequency of balance wheel: 3 Hz (21,600 vibrations/hour)
Flying Tourbillon, hours and minutes
Engraved 18-carat white gold case and bezel
Glare-proofed sapphire crystal and caseback
Black ceramic screw-locked crown
Water-resistant to 50 m
Case thickness: 14.6 mm
Hand-painted white gold 3D Black Panther character, purple inner bezel, white gold hour-markers with black PVD coating, white gold Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating.
Purple rubber strap with 18-carat white gold AP folding clasp
Additional black rubber strap