Last weekend, Audemars Piguet unveiled its new watch – the Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon “Spider-Man” – a timepiece that arrived as part of a collaboration between the luxury watch manufacturer and the comic book giant, Marvel. This new watch comes after Audemars Piguet introduced the “Black Panther” watch about two years ago, also inspired by a comic book character from the Marvel universe. So, before you check where you are, you’re still in Microbrandwatchworld, we just think it’s an excellent opportunity to talk a little about the phenomenon of these watches and how you perceive the fusion of pop culture with the world of luxury timepieces.
Alright, so let’s start with the obvious. It seems we don’t really need to introduce Audemars Piguet to you. The Swiss watchmaker from Le Brassus is part of the holy trinity of the luxury watch world. They are one of the most prestigious manufacturers globally, with an endless gift list for every Royal Oak timepiece they create. On the other side, we have Marvel, the comic book giant whose superheroes shine on movie screens, TV screens, computer screens, tablets, and countless consumer products. It’s safe to assume that any product you can think of, from clothing and bedding to towels and even stationery items like pens and bags, exists with some Marvel character on it.
The new watch from Audemars Piguet is a Concept Tourbillon timepiece with a titanium case and water resistance of up to 50 meters. Inside the watch, we find Audemars Piguet’s Caliber 2974 – an advanced manual-winding mechanism with a power reserve of 72 hours, and most notably, a mechanism with a tourbillon. The watch comes with a skeletonized dial featuring the image of the Spider-Man character. Audemars Piguet will produce only 250 units of this watch, which comes with a price tag of, pay attention to this, 195,000 Swiss Francs, which is approximately 215,000 US dollars.
We don’t intend to delve into horological discussions here; we’ll leave that to other websites. We want to talk about the phenomenon behind this watch.
First and foremost, it’s a watch by Audemars Piguet. As mentioned, a company in the holy trinity of the watch world. On one hand, it’s nice to see high-end watchmakers releasing cool and youthful watches, not “resting on their laurels” too much. On the other hand, it’s Audemars Piguet we’re talking about. Can you imagine a Spider-Man watch from Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin?
The second point we want to address is that when it comes to products that combine the Marvel comic world, it’s impossible not to smile. Let’s admit it, no matter how old we are, we’ll always be happy to see a Spider-Man T-shirt. But on the other hand, when it comes to a watch that features the pinnacle of horological complications like a tourbillon, it feels like a somewhat unnatural match to us.
The third point is the price. When it comes to a product like a Spider-Man watch, we would expect a “user-friendly” price tag. You know what? After all, it’s Audemars Piguet. So, we’re not expecting a watch in the $1,000-$5,000 price range. And not even a watch with a price tag of $10,000. But why not launch this watch in a slightly more “mass-market” series like the Royal Oak or the Offshore, making it a bit more accessible to customers?
The fourth point is the target audience of this watch. Who is actually the target audience for such a watch? One of the few celebrities seen wearing Audemars Piguet’s “Black Panther” watch is LeBron James, one of the most famous basketball players in the world, one of the most recognizable celebrities worldwide, and someone who earns $44.5 million per season just on the basketball court, not including endorsements, collaborations, and more. So, who are you actually manufacturing this watch for, and do you really need to produce only 250 units of it?
Don’t get us wrong, we definitely think Swiss watchmakers don’t need to take themselves too seriously. We absolutely love collaborations from the world of pop-culture, fashion, and younger realms with the luxury watch world. Such collaborations bring luxury watches closer to broader audiences and expose them to age groups that probably wouldn’t have been exposed to luxury watches without these collaborations. However, to do it with a watch priced at almost $220,000?
One last point to conclude – Last week we learned that Audemars Piguet has finally found a new CEO. The person who will replace François-Henry Bennahmias, the CEO who has become so closely associated with Audemars Piguet in recent decades, is Jasmine Resta – the woman who will become the most senior figure in the luxury watch industry. Bennahmias, with his colorful personality, was the one who, during his tenure, turned Audemars Piguet into an art form when it comes to collaborations with celebrities. He appeared alongside celebrities, mingled with them at events, and became a celebrity himself, unlike other CEOs like CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué (whom we’re pretty sure you don’t even know how to pronounce). Is this watch the last remnant of Bennahmias’ legacy in the company? Will Jasmine Resta continue in his footsteps, and in the next year or two, will we see a Batman-themed watch? Just kidding, we know Batman doesn’t belong to the Marvel world. We know. But what do you think about Iron Man or the Hulk? Or you know what, what about the Black Widow watch?
We will be happy to hear what you think about this new watch? what do you think about pop-culture co-operations with luxury watches world and do you think this co-operation between Audemars Piguet and Marvel is something you like?