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Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon ‘Spider

Nov 02, 2023

The new timepiece extraordinaire is the Swiss maison's second such release since partnering with Marvel in 2021 (All photos: Audemars Piguet)

Stan Lee and his squadron of superheroes have made the realm of pop culture more exciting.

Almost five years after Lee's passing, his comics continue to bring together, entertain and inspire fans beyond ordinary life. From comics to movies and everything in between, many of the partnerships initiated through Marvel and Disney's exceptional marketing and promotional strategies have been highly successful.

Spider-Man, created by Lee and artist Steve Ditko, first appeared in the anthology comic book Amazing Fantasy #15 in August 1962, during the silver age of comic books. Heralding the release of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse on June 2, the superhero is set to make an appearance on Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon "Spider-Man".

The latest animation flick centres on the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man from Brooklyn, who is launched across the Multiverse after reconnecting with Gwen Stacy. There, he encounters the Spider Society, a group of Spider-People tasked with defending the Multiverse's survival.

Miles Morales’ Spider-Man finds himself pitted against the other Spiders, however, and is forced to go on his own to save those he cares about the most when the heroes disagree on how to tackle a new threat.

The new timepiece extraordinaire is the Swiss maison's second such release since partnering with Marvel in 2021, following the Royal Oak Concept "Black Panther" Flying Tourbillon. It was released to pay tribute to the cherished principles of family values and the seamless integration of technology and tradition, which are epitomised by Marvel's iconic hero.

The hand-painted white gold 3D Black Panther character, purple inner bezel and white gold Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating added to the high-tech appearance of the watch. It was one of the most talked-about watches in recent times.

‘Who am I?’

The openwork movement in the new watch is a true wonder. Encased in a 42mm titanium case and contrasted with a black ceramic bezel and crown, the image of Spider-Man and his Thwip hand gesture placed at the centre of the watch will blow away any observer.

Notice the void around the superhero? It's an unimaginable feat, achieved by minimising the use of as many materials as possible. The result is a beautiful timepiece that lets Spidey take centre stage in all of its three-dimensional glory, seemingly suspended through the sapphire crystal.

To create this effect, the silhouette and volume of the superhero are meticulously carved from a solid block of white gold using a CNC machine. Subsequently, the lower half of the superhero's costume undergoes laser engraving to achieve distinct textures resembling textiles.

This intricate process involves complex machine programming and numerous tests to achieve the desired outcome. Following this step, the top portion of the character is carefully hand-engraved, while a dedicated artisan painstakingly adds intricate details to the body, rendering each piece unique.

To achieve his iconic two-tone appearance, the character undergoes meticulous hand-painting, combining matte red and metallic blue hues for a striking contrast. Spanning the entire thickness of the watch, the Spider-Man figure alone takes the artisans at Le Brassus at least 50 hours to complete!

The dial features a captivating arrangement of hour markers and Arabic numerals in black PVD-coated gold, harmoniously complemented by hands crafted from the same material. Each element showcases a polished finish and is adorned with a white luminescent coating, delicately alluding to the Spider-Man universe by transitioning to a captivating blue hue in the dark.

The stunning arm candy is finished off with a black-and-grey rubber strap, a titanium AP buckle and a second black-and-red rubber strap that matches the famous suit of the Marvel Super Hero. The interchangeable strap system is the first for the 42mm Royal Oak Concept case.

This second iteration of the Marvel superhero watch series is limited to 250.

For the greater good

"For this collaboration with Marvel, we want to pay tribute to Spider-Man, one of the most popular superheroes in the Marvel universe, who is aware that with great power must also come great responsibility," says François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet.

"And, to mark the occasion, we are pleased to reiterate our commitment to First Book and Ashoka's work to empower young people to become agents of change; they are our real-life heroes."

Non-profit social enterprise First Book has given out 225 million books to registered teachers, librarians, after-school programme leaders and others serving children in need while Ashoka is the world's largest network of changemakers and social innovators, with more than 4,000 social entrepreneurs in more than 90 countries. It helps innovators start out, develop their concepts, collaborate, restructure entire systems and make an impact on societal progress. This philanthropic partnership began in 2021 with the T’Challa watch.

According to Paul Gitter, executive vice-president of global brand commercialisation at Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing, this collaboration showcases the evergreen appeal and global impact of the Spider-Man character while also benefiting two incredible non-profit organisations that help to further empower today's youth.

Audemars Piguet auctioned off a unique piece of its new Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon "Black Suit Spider-Man" on May 25, along with other lots. All the proceeds from the auction will be donated to First Book and Ashoka.

This article first appeared on May 29, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.

‘Who am I?’ For the greater good