Collaborations and watches inspired by pop and street culture are, without a doubt, an important part of Audemars Piguet‘s recent history. No other brand on the haute horlogerie scene has fostered such creative synergies with different universes. Sport, pop culture, art, fashion and entertainment… It looks at things from a different perspective, like it or not. This year, Audemars Piguet unveils a new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked limited edition in collaboration with brand and label Cactus Jack, founded by American hip-hop artist Travis Scott. And yes, it is indeed “The Chocolate AP,” as Travis Scott likes to call it in his latest album. Yet another polarizing collaboration with a slightly controversial artist, but one that truly looks spectacular.
AP x Collabs
As most of you might know, this new model isn’t the first time the Swiss watchmaker ventured into the world of music and sport, and specifically hip-hop and basketball culture. Far from that! As primed examples, we can name, among others, collaborations with Jay-Z (2005) and LeBron James (2013). The brand has made a name for itself in this domain since the early 2000s, to the point that AP has since become one of the most quoted brands in rap songs. It might not be something that talks to the entire spectrum of the collecting community and to a wide audience of watch enthusiasts, but it has certainly brought the brand under the spotlight, making it visible to many more people than just watch lovers. A successful strategy…? Looking at sales figures of the brand in recent years, you could say so. A long-term achievement? Time will tell.
What we have to consider right now is the brand’s latest collaboration, a watch made together with one of the most successful rap artists in recent years, Travis Scott and his label Cactus Jack. It isn’t the first time the man has teamed up with other brands to create unique, collectable objects – check this for an overview of his most famed collabs, including multiple takes on the emblematic Air Jordan sneakers or the official Cactus Jack x Dior capsule.
The Chocolate AP by Travis Scott
For this new collaborative project, the watch of choice isn’t just a standard Royal Oak (if a Royal Oak could be called this…) It’s actually based on one of the most desirable, bold and intricately finished editions of the RO, the Perpetual Calendar Openworked Black Ceramic. But what Travis Scott and his label Cactus Jack have done goes way beyond just a few details on the dial, a new strap and an engraving on the caseback. The Travis Scott x Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked Cactus Jack Limited Edition 26585CM (a mouthful name, admittedly) brings an unprecedented colour for the ceramic case, a dial full of details and unique features and, overall, a surprisingly consistent design. I would not have expected this, but the result, if bold and polarizing, is rather amazing.
The AP x Travis Scott Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked is first and foremost an impressively technical and high-end watch. Despite the modernity of the design and colour scheme, it remains a watch from true haute horlogerie level. It’s not just a stamped logo on a base model. Visually speaking, we’re on familiar grounds, with the classic look of the RO Perpetual. Here, Audemars Piguet presents its first Royal Oak model in brown ceramic, which is the signature colour of Cactus Jack (which is the central theme of his Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG SP or the Dior capsule collection).
Used for the case, bezel, crown and caseback, ceramic (or Zirconium Oxide powder Zr2O, if you want to be precise) has long been used by AP for the Royal Oak Perpetual, which we’ve seen already in black, white or even blue with closed dials. As for the Openworked version, black was the only option so far. Travis Scott decided to bring his favourite colour, with a chocolate brown tone from head to toe… And as always with ceramic, achieving uniform colour is a delicate and crucial stage, before the components are finished by hand to reach the same level of precision as what is found on a metal version. The case retains all the classic features and finishes of a steel or gold RO, with the octagonal bezel and case alternating satin-brushed surfaces and polished chamfers.
The case of this AP x Travis Scott Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, apart from the unprecedented brown ceramic, is identical to all previous editions, with a 41mm diameter and relatively thin 9.9mm thickness. The bezel retains the traditional hexagonal white gold screws as well as the flat sapphire crystal protecting the dial, here revealing the beauty of the in-house skeletonized movement. Despite the screw-lock crown and screwed back, which features a sapphire window, the watch is only water-resistant to 20m, a common feature of all ceramic QPs. On the wrist, it’s a relatively lightweight watch – the combination of a strap and the ceramic makes it highly pleasant on the wrist – and one that is, from a certain distance, not too striking visually. The chocolate brown colour is more subtle than one could imagine. It blends well with all the other elements of the watch, including the specific strap and the discreet gold accents.
We continue on the dial where this Travis Scott x Audemars Piguet Chocolate Brown Royal Oak brings a ton of unique details… While the layout and the indications are classics for the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked, the Cactus Jack limited edition changes almost all design details. The sapphire dial reveals most of the delicately finished movement, which is here rhodium-plated with discreet pink-gold-toned hues. The mesmerizing intertwining of gears, springs and levels is barely hidden under the transparent indications, which comprises, as always, the week numbers on the inner flange, hours and minutes in the centre and a perpetual calendar with date, day of the week, month, leap year and double-moon.
The evolution compared to a classic RO Perpetual Calendar Openworked are countless. First, the thin circle surrounding the day, month and date subdials respectively located at 9, 12 and 3 o’clock have been treated in a rose gold colour, pairing nicely with the brown tone of the case. The hour, minute and counters hands, like the hour markers inserted within the seconds scale, are crafted in gold and covered with brown PVD before being filled with a white luminescent material that turns blue in the dark. Finally, multiple elements on the dial refer to the visual identity of Travis Scott’s brand, Cactus Jack.
First, AP’s team has specially designed the typography of the calendar indications based on Travis Scott’s hand-drawn model, which can be found on the week indication too, on the inner flange. The hand of the day subdial takes on the shape of the brand’s logo. And the most distinctive element of the dial is, without a doubt, the design of the moon phase at 6 o’clock. The traditional photorealistic representation of Earth’s natural satellite has been replaced by Cactus Jack’s emblematic smiley face with its mouth sewn shut on a blue aventurine base, with the face’s luminescent coating glowing blue in the dark. All other calendar indications, with the exception of the week indication, are endowed with a luminescent material that turns green at night for a striking luminous effect.
The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked “Cactus Jack” Limited Edition is powered by the selfwinding Calibre 5135, a movement that we’ve seen already in the classic black ceramic Openworked edition. Based on the calibre 2121, the ultra-thin movement that is found in the Royal Oak Ultra-Thin Jumbo 15202 and easily recognizable with its oscillating weight with an annular ring running on four jewels, it adds a perpetual calendar function on top, with most of the mechanics exposed. As you’d expect, assuming the watch is kept fully wound, the date will not require manual correction until 2100.
All parts, front and back, are finished to an impressive level, with circular brushing, satin brushing, sandblasting, sunray brushing and polished chamfers, among other decorations. The bridges, the cock, the main plate, the barrel drum and the ratchet wheel have all been hollowed and decorated with superb attention to detail, including a multitude of internal angles. Specific to this Travis Scott/Cactus Jack edition, the openworked 22k pink gold oscillating weight is finished with satin brushing and polished chamfers. It is also engraved with the double “Audemars Piguet” and “Cactus Jack” signatures. The Cactus Jack logo appears in the centre of the oscillating weight. The caseback is engraved with “Utopia is a state of mind” in reference to Travis Scott’s latest album.
Also a specificity of this Travis Scott x Audemars Piguet watch, the traditional RO bracelet in ceramic has been replaced by a new textured calfskin leather strap, adding to the distinctive look of this collab. It is closed by a pink gold folding clasp engraved with both the signatures of AP and Travis Scott. One of the mobile loops of the strap also shows the “Utopia is a state of mind” reference.
Thought, availability & price
This new Travis Scott x Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked Cactus Jack Limited Edition will surely create strong reactions. As with previous collaborations, it ventures into different universes, far from the classic codes of haute horlogerie. There’s no doubt that both the personality of Travis Scott and the overall partnership are polarizing, even maybe a bit controversial. That being said, if we look at this watch solely through the lens of watchmaking, it is certainly a highly impressive model, with a design that is coherent, original and distinctive yet desirable. It’s actually relatively discreet for such a theme and the whole timepiece is, without a doubt, of a very high level. Whether you like the background story or not is up to you.
A limited edition of 200 pieces, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked Cactus Jack Limited Edition Brown Ceramic (reference 26585CM.OO.D301VE.01) will be priced at CHF 178,000 excluding taxes. For more details, please visit audemarspiguet.com.