Celebrity brand ambassadors are nothing new to the world of watchmaking, but few pursue the concept as deeply as Audemars Piguet. As a longtime leader within the highest echelon of the luxury watch industry, Audemars Piguet has invested in partnerships with brand ambassadors including global sports superstars Lebron James. Michael Schumacher, and Serena Williams. The Le Brassus firm’s slogan, “To break the rules, you must first master them,” perfectly fits the mindset of the elite athletes who collaborate with Audemars Piguet.
This past month, tennis star Serena Williams won her 22nd major victory at Wimbledon. During the tournament, it was hard not to spot the striking Royal Oak Chronograph in rose gold on her wrist. The watch perfectly complemented the white ensemble she was wearing and although conceptual, the video below encapsulates the spirit of the partnership with Williams.
Audemars Piguet’s partnership with Williams began in 2014, and the result has been nothing short of a perfect fit for both parties. After her latest win at Wimbledon, Williams has placed a down payment on enduring legend status long after her tennis career concludes. Williams offered a window into her hopes for a legacy in response to an interviewer’s query about the star’s place in tennis history; “"I prefer the words 'one of the greatest athletes of all time.'"
Few would argue with that. Audemars Piguet will be keen to ensure Williams continues wearing Royal Oaks deep into retirement.
Another one of Audemars’ tennis ambassadors, Stan Wawrinka, like Williams, is one of the few players that wear their watches on the court. Last year, Wawrinka wore his Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph with a rubber strap when he beat the world number one-ranked Novak Djokovic.
Wawrinka’s watch is a slate-grey color, and as Audemars Piguet’s website notes, the watch is “as perfect with a white t-shirt as a suit.” The 42mm case contains the self-winding movement and features a chronograph as well as a date window.
Classified as one of the best backhands in the game, Wawrinka has made it all the way to the world’s number three-ranked player. Additionally, Wawrinka made it into the semi-finals during this year’s French Open.
Some may find it strange to recall that Lebron James once played for the Miami Heat since he just won the 2016 NBA Finals the MVP award following a reunion with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted James out of high school and witnessed his rise as a star prior to the contentious Miami episode.
In 2013, James and Audemars Piguet launched a 600-piece limited edition called the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Lebron James. And just as heads-up, James is not affiliated with the brand anymore, although as an avid watch collector, the MVP probably still has some Audemars Piguets in his collection and a soft spot for the brand in his heart.
Instead of a sports-minded timepiece, James and Audemars Piguet elected to create a formal take on the Offshore with diamond detailing on the side of the 18-carat pink gold case. The caseback is engraved with the “Royal Oak Offshore Limited Edition Lebron James” and an LBJ signature printed in blue on the sapphire crystal. The signature watch is equipped with a hand-stitched grey alligator strap and an 18-carat pink gold pin buckle.
With this Royal Oak Offshore, James created a watch that isn’t necessarily a celebration of his basketball achievements but one he would want in his own collection.
The Royal Oak Offshore Lebron James was priced at $51,500.
From his formative years with the Mercedes Benz LeMans program to revitalizing Ferrari’s racing team in the late 1990s, seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher has teamed up with everyone from Schuberth helmets to Audemars Piguet.
In 2010, Schumacher challenged the watchmaker to create a mechanical watch that would measure and record an extended series of consecutive lap times. This had never been done in a mechanical wristwatch, but of course Audemars Piguet tackled – and completed – the task. The result was the Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher’s grand complication features a single chronograph driving two central hands that can be controlled independently via three push pieces. The third push piece at nine o’clock makes it possible to simultaneously stop either of the two chronograph hands while returning the other hand to zero and restarting it. This is only the second watch for which the driver granted the use of his name and is a limited edition of 221 pieces; the number equals the tally of F1 World Championship races that Schumacher contested.
“Michael is rightly famous for his sense of meticulousness, both in his work with the engineers and also in his determination and ability to race against every second,” Jean Todt, Schumacher’s close friend, former Scuderia Ferrari Principal, and President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, noted.