When Audemars Piguet released the Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Flying Tourbillon in 2021, it was met with curiosity, a bit of snickering and giggling, and no small amount of impressed awe. The watch was objectively brilliant—to say nothing of the one-off auction version—but Marvel collabs were the purview of brands like Citizen and Invicta. What was Audemars Piguet doing with Black Panther on the dial? Well, to hear AP tell it, the partnership formed with Marvel in 2021 was part of the brand seeking inspiration outside of watchmaking, “notably in pop culture and the world of entertainment.” In other words, to show the kids that AP is cool. In continuing that partnership and maintaining the brand’s cachet with the youth, Audemars Piguet has released the Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Spider-Man.
Just like the Black Panther edition, the RO Concept Tourbillon Spider-Man is housed in the ultra-modern case of the Concept line. The 42mm-wide sandblasted titanium case is 15mm-thick (slightly thicker than the Black Panther), with a sandblasted and brushed finish accented with polished lines along the edges of the large facets. Long angular crown guards flank the 3 o’clock crown, while a brushed and polished ceramic bezel and a flat anti-reflective sapphire crystal complete the package. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters, which is fine because spiders don’t like the water anyway. The watch includes two two-tone rubber straps, black with gray inserts and black with red inserts, closed with an AP-branded folding buckle. Perhaps most exciting (aside from the dial, at least) is the introduction of a quick-release strap system for the Concept line: With a few easy steps, both the strap and its buckle can be changed (this is not the first quick-change system from AP, which has a separate system for its Royal Oak Offshore collection).
For the dial, AP has utilized a highly open-worked movement to allow Spider-Man’s presence to be as dramatic as possible. Surrounded by a black hour ring, the dial features black PVD-coated hour markers and skeletonized hands, all with luminant applied. As if swinging right into your face, Spidey is seemingly suspended in the dial. The character takes 50 hours to produce, first being cut by CNC from a block of white gold, then laser engraved, then hand-finished touch-ups, and finally, meticulous hand painting. The result, including the lumed eyes, is a three-dimensional piece of art that’s sure to make your pals at the local comic book shop weep with glee. There’s also a tourbillon at 6 o’clock, but you’re never going to focus on that.
Now is a good time to talk about the unique auction version of this watch. In this version, the case is crafted of white gold, decorated with a laser engraved spider leg motif that is filled in with a lumed ceramic material, followed by another round of laser engraving to create a spider web background. It’s sure to create a stunning visual effect. On the dial, the classic blue and red Spider-Man suit is replaced by one of the character’s most iconic alternate outfits: the Symbiote suit. Referred to by AP as the “Black Suit,” the design was originally submitted to Marvel in response to a call for ideas, eventually being purchased by the brand and introduced in comics in 1984. Spidey’s pose remains the same, though the brand hints that the large white spider that graces the chest of the Symbiote suit may be lumed as well as the eyes. The “Black Suit Spider-Man” was auctioned off on May 26, hammering at $6.2 million, outdoing the Black Panther model by $1 million. The proceeds (the entire auction raised $8.5 million) will go to the First Book and Ashoka non-profits that promote educational equity.
The watch is powered by the pleasingly symmetrical in-house Calibre 2974, a manual winding movement based on the brand’s Calibre 2948. The 2948 was pared down as much as possible to create the 2974, which reinforces the effect of the dial. It features black bridges with polished bevels and a 6 o’clock tourbillon. It runs at 21,600 bph with a very respectable power reserve of 72 hours. Of note, on the movement ring of the unique piece, it will say “Royal Oak Concept Unique Piece.”
Haters gonna hate, but this is another expertly designed and crafted Marvel collaboration from a brand that we never expected to make one in the first place. I don’t know if it’s going to capture the hearts of the youths and make them yearn to one day have an AP, but the 250 pieces that are being made will, no doubt, sell out fast, especially if the wildly successful auction piece is any indicator. I’m very comfortable with how AP is pacing these—one every two years; unlike Marvel’s parent, Disney, the brand doesn’t seem in a rush to drain all the meaning from Marvel’s characters in a deluge of releases. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Spider-Man is priced at CHF 195,000 and is available exclusively from the brand. For more information, please visit the Audemars Piguet website.