Look Out, Here Comes The Audemars Piguet Spiderman
Audemars Piguet just released the second instalment of its controversial Marvel series, the Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Spider-Man, and it’s sure to be as polarizing as the Black Panther edition, the bombshell that kicked off the partnership in 2021. Audemars wasted no time in making a big splash to launch the series, auctioning a special white gold edition for $6.2 million at a private collectors event May 25 in Dubai. The rest of the series of 250 pieces are titanium, priced at CHF 195,000. Two other watches were auctioned at the Dubai event, for a total of $8.5 million, all donated to First Book and Ashoka, charities that support young people from low-income and historically excluded communities.
The watch is a marvel of creativity. While lesser brands have depicted cartoon or comic characters one-dimensionally, usually printing them on the dial or caseback, Audemars renders the action hero in life-like, 3D miniature sculpture form, poised on top of a tourbillon escapement. Spidey is in mid-swing, his right arm clinging to one of the bridges of the movement while his left is poised to spin his famous web. The pose conveys movement – a nice juxtaposition since the hero is emerging from a watch movement. The best part? Along with the hour markers and hands, Spider-Man’s eyes are coated with Super-LumiNova. They glow in the dark!
Audemars Piguet’s first collaboration with Marvel, the Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Flying Tourbillon drew plenty of jabs from detractors when it launched at Watches and Wonders in 2021 because it was such a sudden pivot from the company’s niche as a classic, serious watchmaker. Others declared that comic book characters have no place in high watchmaking – but there are historic examples, like the Gerald Genta Mickey Mouse watches, which are a huge success. The fact is, Audemars Piguet Marvel watches have reached millions of people on Instagram, many of them new to watch collecting, and that was part of Audemars Piguet’s grand plan: to connect with a new audience and a new generation through the worlds of pop culture and entertainment. Audemars Piguet has found a way to translate its watchmaking expertise to the next generation of collectors by using a venue and a design language they can identify with.
The engineering and finish are top notch. The Spider-Man sculpture was cut from a single block of white gold using a CNC machine, his suit then laser-engraved to create the different textures that give it a textile appearance. The engraved finish is executed by hand by a single artisan and then hand painted in the red and blue colors of Spider-Man’s uniform. The whole process takes 50 hours. The 42mm case of the 250-piece series is titanium with a black ceramic bezel. Hours are positioned on the deep flange – there is an equally deep flange on the caseback, on which the words “Royal Oak Concept Limited Edition of 250 pieces” is printed. The movement is the openworked caliber 2974 with a flying tourbillon. The black and gray rubber strap is interchangeable with a black and red rubber strap. It retails for CHF 195,000.