Audemars Piguet Chronographe Royal Oak Offshore LeBron JamesFebruary 22, 2021
Funny how the watch world has the power to bring people together. Things that would never normally happen, occur because of horology. Take for instance famous American basketball player LeBron James traveling to the small Swiss town of Le Brassus. Never mind that he donned a watchmaker’s white coat (if they had one long enough for him). I don’t even think basketball is shown on television in Switzerland, and yet there he is in the idyllic Swiss mountains with Audemars Piguet.
It isn’t news that LeBron James has been an Audemars Piguet brand ambassador, but just last week Audemars Piguet decided to unveil the official LeBron James limited edition Royal Oak Offshore watch (which I debuted on Forbes right here). Still, the entire situation is remarkably impressive, especially for LeBron. Think about it, global luxury watch maker Audemars Piguet choose an athlete in an American sport to be one of the faces of their brand. American athletes don’t exactly have a reputation for being well dignified brand representatives (as indicated by our frequent media-pushed scandals). Yet, in the last 20 years some of them have reached a level where their status as an athlete is just part of their overall appeal.Mr. James is one of those people. He is part of a newer breed of stylized athlete superstars who don’t just make a lot of money, but apparently decide to spend it wisely on nice things of good taste. At least that is their image. There is also the matter of the well-rounded athlete, that in addition to being a style leader, is also an idol and mentor. In basketball, men like Michael Jordan come to mind as being among the first. Though what has really changed since Michael Jordan is the new emphasis on luxury. So Mr. James isn’t just a successful ball player for the Miami Heat who earns a handsome income, he is also a luxury taste maker and style connoisseur. And having gotten to that point I think is rather impressive.
As we’ve seen before, when Audemars Piguet announces a new brand ambassador they usually wait a little while (year or so) before “delivering” their watch. The wait is often filled with anticipation and excitement. Why? Well for one thing people love limited edition watches connected to celebrities. That is pretty self explanatory. At the same time people are curious to see what designs Audemars Piguet may be experimenting with for future designs. Limited edition Royal Oak Offshore watches are usually a fertile breeding ground to play with new styles, materials, and color combinations. Further, more often than not the new watches are a bit controversial as well in terms of design.The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph LeBron James Limited Edition watch is in fact a very subtle experiment when it comes to AP’s limited edition fare. It is nevertheless unique, but we don’t see Audemars Piguet playing with a lot of new design features. We do however see a sort of novel mixture of elements they’ve used before, and a true homage to gray and gold as the 44mm wide Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph case is done in 18k pink gold and titanium.Gray and gold was very ‘in’ several years ago when titanium started to become a really popular metal in luxury watches. Brands seemed to like mixing titanium with 18k rose gold, almost in an ironic manner offering a watch with a very lightweight metal next to a rather heavy one. I suppose they equalized each other and all those watches weighed the same as steel? In this case LeBron’s watch is mostly 18k pink gold with a titanium bezelThe brushed titanium bezel really emphasizes the gray color of the metal. The same tone is matched both on the dial and gray crocodile strap. What is actually quite apparent about the watch in person, more so than you may expect in the pictures, is how much you notice the deep blue color of the chronograph seconds hands. While titanium bezels are nice, I personally prefer ceramic or cerachrom (which AP has used in the past and is a metal ceramic hybrid) as a metal for bezels because of their scratch resistance properties. Though they are typically darker in color than titanium.
Ceramic is used in the watch a bit. You’ll find that the crown as well as chronograph pushers are in a deep gray ceramic. Then you get the most “unique” element of the watch that some people love, and some people hate. Before you decide you have to ask yourself how much you like to finger diamonds. Audemars Piguet has decided to set the chronograph start/stop pusher with diamonds. Diamonds and masculinity are hard to combine. Though in the last several years with (some) men wearing diamond stud earrings and the like, you see more unisex ways of inferring wealth using diamonds. I am waiting for the diamond pinky ring to come back for dudes. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a more “subtle” way of including diamonds in a watch, but never in a chronograph pusher before. What do you think about it?What I personally like about the watch are the brushed Arabic numeral hour indicators. The non-limited version of the Royal Oak Offshore have baton hour markers. These brushed ones aren’t new, as I first saw them on the ultra cool (and huge) Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Arnold Schwarzenegger The Legacy Watch. Nevertheless, they are a rare element on ROO watches.
Aside from the unique gold-and-gray colors and special little features, the ROO LeBron James is very much a higher-end version of the Royal Oak Offshore people know and love. The 44mm wide case sits large on the wrist but isn’t unwieldy. While the colors aren’t for everyone, I am actually keen on the gray and gold combination, even though I could take or leave the diamonds.In the past we’ve shown you Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore Michael Schumacher and Royal Oak Chronograph Leo Messi, and this watch is in the same vein as those. LeBron James was invited to design a watch with the team in Le Brassus, creating a piece that combines his tastes and personality with that of Audemars Piguet. The result is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph LeBron James.The watch starts with a 44mm pink gold Offshore Chronograph case, which wears even larger than this because of the massive pusher housings and crown guards. This isn’t a watch for shrinking violets. On top of this is a brushed titanium bezel, offering nice visual contrast with the case. The combination of gold and grey is carried through to the dial, the pusher housings, and the strap choice.The dial has the Mega Tapisserie pattern, tonal grey subregisters, and contrasting pink gold applied arabic numerals and hands. The blue seconds hand adds a touch of color too. The pusher housings are also a mix of grey rubber and rose gold, with a black ceramic crown and black ceramic pushers. Finishing things off, you’ll notice two small rows of diamonds set into the pusher at 2 o’clock.Turning the watch over, you’ll see LeBron’s signature printed in blue (matching the seconds hand) on the sapphire caseback. Behind this is the Calibre 3126/3840 movement, which is nicely finished as you would expect from AP. The 22k gold winding rotor has been given an anthracite galvanic treatment, and bears a large AP logo as well as two large cut-outs. Finally there is a grey crocodile strap with pink gold buckle and an additional grey rubber strap.