Inspired by historical character watch designs, Audemars Piguet wanted to pay tribute to a new generation of inspirational heroes and chose to focus on the powerful Marvel universe. The brand has decided to kick off this Marvel series with a Black Panther timepiece in celebration of the family values and seamless blend of traditions and technology embodied by Marvel’s hero.
Rooted in ancestral craftsmanship and futuristic technology, the Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon brings forward the awe-inspiring creativity of complicated timepieces. This 42 mm piece speaks to Audemars Piguet’s long history of design experimentation and connection to the larger cultural world. Never standing still, the brand has continuously pushed further the limits of its craft and looked beyond Haute Horlogerie for inspiration, notably in the realms of pop culture, art and the entertainment industry.
The watch’s futuristic design recalls the cutting-edge suit of Marvel’s Black Panther. Honed from titanium, the rounded case is topped off with a black ceramic octagonal-shaped bezel and crown for a high-tech look. Although unyielding, these light materials nicely complement the case’s ergonomic curvature matching the natural shape of the wrist. The Royal Oak Concept is presented in a 42 mm case diameter.
The ultra-resistant case is adorned with refined hand-finishing. The black ceramic bezel has been decorated with the brand’s trademark alternation of satin-brushing and polished chamfers. The titanium case presents a textured look with sandblasted surfaces juxtaposed to satin-brushed and chamfered titanium inserts. The satin-brushed steel hexagonal screws brazenly securing the bezel on the case further the two-tone aesthetics, while the visible purple gasket adds a vivid touch of colour.
This collaboration is a dream come true! It is an honour today to pay tribute to Marvel’s heroes and further the strong connection Audemars Piguet has always had with the entertainment industry. This collaborative adventure promises many surprises to come. — François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet
The titanium sapphire caseback, similarly finished with sandblasting and satin-brushing, reveals part of the micro-mechanics ticking within.
The dial brings together the pulsating flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock with a highly contemporary hand-painted rendition of Marvel’s Black Panther, comprised of white gold. New tools were developed for the realisation, assembly and fitting of the hero on the movement. The silhouette and volume of the character have been preliminarily cut in a white gold disc by CNC machining. Numerous recesses have been created under the character in order to leave enough space for the movement components, while simultaneously keeping enough rigidity to prevent deformation and achieve optimum aesthetics.
The texture of the dauntless hero’s suit has then been carved out by laser. This stage is complemented by meticulous hand engraving. The myriad of details adorning Black Panther’s body, from his hands and claws, to his muscles and facial features, have been sculpted by hand by a single engraver.
The next steps, performed by a single painter, consist in painting the eyes and applying numerous layers of diluted dark paint on the suit in order to reach the perfect balance of texture and graded contrasts. In addition, small details on Black Panther’s suit have been left unpainted to further the contrast and add depth. These apparent white gold surfaces have been polished to provide a subtle play of light.
The resulting alternation of matt and mirror surfaces adorning the character echoes Audemars Piguet’s trademark hand finishing. 30 hours of work in total were necessary for the engraving and painting of Marvel’s Black Panther, while it took a highly specialised team of 4 engravers and 4 painters to decorate the characters of the collection’s 250 pieces.
The dial’s choreography pushes boundaries one step further, thrusting reimagined horological tradition into Marvel’s creative universe.