Audemars Piguet's Made a Black Panther Flying Tourbillon
During Watch and Wonders week Audemars Piguet introduced the first iteration of its Marvel Super Hero watch series. The luxury watchmaker’s CEO François-Henry Bennahmias, who is a Marvel fan himself, couldn’t contain his delight in presenting the first Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Black Panther Flying Tourbillon.
The watch itself is powered by “vibranium,” which is a fictional metal that first appeared in Marvel Comics in Daredevil issue number 13 published way back in February 1966. It has since been used in several other stories but is mostly associated with the Marvel character Black Panther. Of course, fans know that Vibranium was also used as an alloy for the shield of Captain America.
In the comics, Vibranium has the ability to absorb, store and release large amounts of kinetic energy and, as the story goes, it is only mined in Wakanda, the fictional homeland of the Black Panther. Three years ago, there was even a viral video of a US high school student who made a really funny “school report” tricking his teacher about the fictional country.
Audemars Piguet held the brand’s first virtual event last April called “Audemars Piguet & Friends, Live Show from Los Angeles,” and revealed the limited-edition timepiece celebrating its new long-term collaboration with Marvel Entertainment. The event, which was publicly broadcast around the world, was hosted by stand-up comedian and actor Kevin Hart alongside the Audemars Piguet CEO, and was attended by celebrities such as LeBron James, Serena Williams, Ian Poulter, Anthony Joshua, Lu Han, Jon Gray and Mark Ronson.
VIP guests in Hong Kong watched the livestream from Hollywood from a Wakanda-inspired private space in H Queen’s, one of the territory’s trendiest cultural hubs, which is also considered to the brand’s AP House. The AP x Marvel celebration in Hong Kong lasted for several days with by-invitation-only guests enjoying the immersive Wakanda-inspired experience, have their 360 degree videos taken and participate in a custom VR game challenge, before pursuing their journey at the AP House two floors above.
The highlight of the LA Event was the fundraising auction of several dedicated lots of memorabilia and items contributed by Williams, Poulter and Joshua, which were auctioned off. Proceeds of the auction are going to the educational program developed by First Book, Ashoka and Audemars Piguet. The non-profit organizations First Book and Ashoka support agents of change in low-income and historically excluded communities.
The auction was introduced by Kyle Zimmer, founder and CEO of First Book, as well as Ashoka Board Member and Senior Fellow Michael Friedman, head of complications at Audemars Piguet, who worked in the past with leading auction houses including Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Antiquorum. Bidders from multiple countries competed for a chance to own one of four distinct auction lots – including a unique version of the Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon.
The one-off Black Panther Flying Tourbillon watch had a hammer price of $5.2 million (P251 million), with unnamed bidders from Russia and China. It was the most expensive Royal Oak ever sold in an auction. Unlike the other 250 limited edition pieces, this one-off watch that was auctioned had an 18-carat white gold case and its bezel was entirely engraved by hand with a motif inspired by Marvel’s Black Panther character.
The dial showcases a very detailed rendition of Black Panther, whose suit has been outlined with streaks of purple paint for a sharper contrast. There was an inscription of “Unique Piece” written on the purple inner bezel visible through the sapphire caseback. This, along with the other limited-edition watches were not really powered by vibranium, but by Audemars Piguet’s Calibre 2965 movement. The partially open front dial reveals a pulsating flying tourbillon at the six o’clock position.