07/17/2023
 4 minutes

Marvelous Horology: Audemars Piguet and Spider-Man Web the Watch World

By Kristian Haagen
2-1

Audemars Piguet has once again teamed up with Marvel, and this time Spider-Man takes center stage. I went to Dubai for the unveiling and subsequent auction, which once again made headlines.

By Kristian Haagen

If you mention Audemars Piguet, the association with the Royal Oak is inevitable. The Royal Oak was the world’s first sports watch with an integrated bracelet, and was designed by Gérald Genta, the man behind several groundbreaking and highly sought-after wristwatches from the 1960s to the 1980s.

It’s interesting to ponder whether Genta would’ve approved of the new Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon “Spider-Man.” I guess it’s possible that he was a fan of the comic book character. After all, he showed an interest in hip-hop and rap in the 1990s (he died in 2011). Perhaps he’s up there above the soft white clouds, raising his glass in a toast to Audemars Piguet’s production facilities in the small Swiss town of Le Brassus, and telling Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

The AP Black Panther Led the Way in 2021

It should be noted that this isn’t the first time Audemars Piguet has created a watch with a comic book character. They also launched an Audemars Piguet x Marvel in 2021, using Black Panther, also known as the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. The watch was a huge success for the esteemed manufacturer, but also controversial. In a conservative industry – which the watch industry very much is – a comic book-inspired luxury watch with a tourbillon isn’t exactly what you would expect from a manufacturer known for crafting the first steel sports watch with an integrated bracelet or the 1991 Star Wheel.

Controversy aside, the first example of the Black Panther sold for a whooping $5.2 million – which all went to charity, mind you – proving that there is indeed a market for superheroes mixed with fine Swiss-Made artistry.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon "Spider-Man"
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon “Spider-Man”

François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, admitted, “I was expecting maybe one or two million dollars, but not five million. At the time, we had never seen an Audemars Piguet watch go for more than one million dollars at auction. So of course I was very pleased with the result.”

Audemars Piguet Creates a Spider-Man Watch

Now, in a new partnership with Marvel, a subsidiary of Disney, AP brings forth yet another horological “marvel.” This time Spider-Man, the agile superhero, graces the dial of the remarkable timepiece. A meticulously-crafted 3D white gold figure, hand-painted in the distinctive red and blue hues of Spider-Man’s iconic suit, takes center stage.

The creative process behind these timepieces is no small feat. Each character requires over 50 hours of painstaking craftsmanship, illustrating that the complexity of this watch extends beyond the intricate tourbillon mechanism.

Not only does this Marvel watch showcase a different superhero, the Spider-Man also features a skeletonized movement, which is obviously reminiscent of a spider’s web.

Inspired by a spiders web: the skeletonized movement
Inspired by a spider’s web: the skeletonized movement

Some may perceive the whole thing as a bit whimsical, but I think that’s up for debate. Many comic books have humorous elements, and Audemars Piguet has masterfully appealed to the inner child within discerning adults. These individuals appreciate luxurious timepieces and yearn to carry their beloved fictional heroes on their wrists, especially when the blue and red jumpsuit becomes less suitable with age – no mind that costume party invite.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon “Spider-Man” has a 42-mm titanium case with a black ceramic bezel, and features a hand-wound movement, the caliber 2974 with a tourbillon. The watch is limited to a run of 250 pieces, and will sell for 195,000 CHF (approx. $215,000).

In addition to the standard titanium version, Audemars Piguet created a unique white gold edition with Spider-Man in a black suit. The attire was inspired by the comic book The Amazing Spider-Man, issue 252 from 1984. This one-of-a-kind watch was auctioned on May 25th, and fetched no less than $6.2 million.

Unique version of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon "Spider-Man" with white gold
A unique white gold version of the Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon “Spider-Man”

Every Superhero Needs a Good Cause

However, the $6.2 million didn’t go to Marvel or Audemars Piguet, but to First Book and Ashoka, organizations that help underprivileged children and young people between the ages of 5 and 18. So, not only was the winning bidder celebrated as a hero on auction night and met with a standing ovation. They’re also a superhero to the many children who will benefit from this large sum of money.

Audemars Piguet and Marvel showed their most generous sides with this auction; as Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben would say, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Want to find out more? Check out:

Why are Audemars Piguet watches so expensive?

Audemars Piguet 2023 Releases: Our Top Picks

Chrono24 Buyer’s Guide: The Legendary Audemars Piguet Royal Oak


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About the Author

Kristian Haagen

I've been collecting watches since I was about 20 years old. I like vintage watches most; they often come with a fascinating history or a cool provenance. Provenance makes a watch far more interesting than any brand-new watch.

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