Audemars Piguet | Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther”
Following the announcement of its partnership with Marvel Entertainment, the Manufacturer revealed the first iteration of its Marvel heroes watch series, the Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon. Inspired by historical character watch designs, the Maison wanted to pay tribute to a new generation of inspirational heroes and chose to focus on the powerful Marvel universe.
Audemars Piguet 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, this timepiece highlights the awe-inspiring creativity of complicated timepieces. This model 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 back the limits of its craft and looked beyond Haute Horlogerie for inspiration, notably in the realms of pop culture, art and the entertainment industry.
A technologically-advanced case inspired by Vibranium
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 42mm case diameter.
Nonetheless deeply steeped in traditions, 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 boldly securing the bezel to the case further the two-tone aesthetics, while the visible purple gasket adds a vivid touch of colour.
The titanium sapphire caseback, similarly finished with sandblasting and satin-brushing, reveals part of the micro-mechanics ticking within.
Heroic dial design
The dial brings together the pulsating flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock with a highly contemporary hand-painted rendition of Marvel’s Black Panther, crafted from white gold.
New tools were developed to create, assemble and fit the hero on the movement. The silhouette and volume of the character are first cut in a white gold disc by CNC machining. Numerous recesses are 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 is 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, are 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 gradient-effect contrasts. In addition, small details on Black Panther’s suit have been left unpainted to further enhance the contrast and add depth. These visible white gold surfaces have been polished to create a subtle play of light. The resulting alternation of matt and mirror surfaces adorning the character echoes Audemars Piguet’s trademark hand finishing. Thirty 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 four engravers and four painters to decorate the characters of the collection’s 250 timepieces.
The black and grey PVD-coated laser-textured titanium bridges appearing in the background recall the Black Panther’s faceted suit. The dial also reveals the movement’s openworked barrel at 10 o’clock, providing an exceptional view of the coiled mainspring – the watch’s power source. The vivid purple inner bezel, enhanced by a colour-coordinated gasket and rubber strap, highlights the dial’s dark tones, while infusing it with the mystic and vibrant flair of Vibranium.
The dial’s choreography pushes boundaries one step further, propelling reimagined horological tradition into Marvel’s creative universe.
A blast from the past and future
This pioneering watch is powered by Calibre 2965, the latest evolution of the hand-wound mechanism with a flying tourbillon, originally released by Audemars Piguet in 2018 in the Royal Oak Concept collection. The contemporary two-tone design of the tourbillon cage matches the watch’s overall aesthetics, endowing the movement with a unique 3D effect.
The sapphire caseback provides another window onto the watch’s seamless blend of technological advancement and traditional expertise visible on the reverse side of the movement. The sandblasted geometric bridges in titanium adorned with black and grey PVD coating reveal components of the watch’s futuristic beating heart, including the back of the flying tourbillon cage and part of the gear train. The sandblasted purple inner bezel bearing the inscription “Royal Oak Concept Limited Edition of 250 Pieces” offers a powerful juxtaposition.
With 72 hours of power reserve and water-resistance to 50 m, this timepiece will also appeal to the adventurous at heart ready to defy gravity with style.