Did Audemars Piguet and Travis Scott just drop the collab of the year with the new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar? It's cocoa-flavoured complicated.
Not only is this the first time Audemars Piguet has crafted a case from chocolate-coloured ceramic, but this release is paired with streetwear merch from rapper Travis Scott’s label Cactus Jack. It’s loaded with Travis’ record label Cactus Jack motifs on a brown leather-lined jeans effect strap, sparing nothing in exquisite hand-finished detailing. This level of bold juxtaposition within a single CHF 178,000 CHF release speaks volumes of how far ahead of the game AP is.
Rewinding to this summer, Travis namedropped the ‘Chocolate AP’ in his hit single Meltdown. Perhaps outgoing CEO Francois-Henry Benhammias kept this perpetual calendar up his bespoke sleeve, and we get it. He leaves at the end of the year as an equally lauded and divisive figure, benchmarking the brand’s Royal Oak and Concept lines. Few Swiss brands can beat their number of front-page hype beasts, with collabs spanning the Marvel Universe to the minimal chic of Matthew Williams.
With a frivolous, casual font despite its complex nature, the function-packed dial has as much substance as Travis Scott is a part of the 2023 musical zeitgeist. After Scott’s collaborations with Nike and Dior, AP feels like a natural fit, speaking volumes of Benhammias’ disruptive legacy and the power of the brand. Would we like to see a Patek streetwear drop with a capsule collection of tees, caps, and hoodies? Maybe not, but AP makes it seem as natural as selling out this 200-piece edition within a week, which will surely happen.
A perpetual calendar is the most grail-worthy of all complications, and we’ve recently seen a bright blue ceramic Royal Oak from AP. For those in the know, a QP or perpetual calendar resides in the upper echelons of complicated horology. You’ll usually find it within gold-cased classicism from Patek or Vacheron Constantin. But AP’s hookup with Travis Scott is on a different level.
This time, an almost bombastic dial layout looks suave with the rich autumn tones of gold and brown and a cheeky pop of red. Even the Halloween-like face of the Cactus Jack smiley looks a natural fit, representing the moon at six o’clock. Keep it wound, and you’ll have the correct date accounting for leap years, and there is a lot more to unpack in what is perhaps the brand’s strongest release of 2023. The ‘Chocolate AP’ is a tech-packed tour de force and a brand-defining end to the disruptive reign of Francois-Henry Benhammias.
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Thor Svaboe is a seasoned writer on watches, contributing to several UK publications including Oracle Time and GQ while being one of the editors at online magazine Fratello. As the only Norwegian who doesn’t own a pair of skis, he hibernates through the winter months with a finger on the horological pulse, and a penchant for independent watchmaking.
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