The art of collaboration can be a delicate thing that produces either something truly magical and original (Jil Sander x Arc’Teryx for example) or a questionable grab for clout (the ill-fated Ferrari x Air Jordan).
Thankfully, although not surprising given the talent involved, the recent collaboration between 1017 Alyx 9SM designer Matthew Williams and Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet is not the latter. In fact, these Royal Oaks might be sleekest, and coolest, version of the iconic watch we have seen.
Unveiled in Tokyo, these four new references of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak stripped the timepiece back to its core essentials . Consider it a stroke of genius that Williams successfully introduced minimalism into a timepiece known for its embrace of maximalism.
The collaboration consists of two Royal Oaks in 18k yellow gold available in 37mm and 41mm options and two, larger, Royal Oak Offshores in yellow gold and 18k white gold both 42mm. There’s also a fifth, unique piece: a 41 mm Royal Oak Chronograph finished with a two-tone case and bracelet of 18k yellow gold and stainless steel, a black PVD-coated gold dial decorated with vertical satin finishing that was auctioned off at the Tokyo unveiling, with funds raised benefiting disadvantaged children.
Fans of the OG Royal Oak will immediately notice that the new 1017 Alyx 9SM collaboration has removed the traditional sub-dial markings. Instead, the face is left clean, with a monochromatic satin finish and the two brand names positioned at then midday (AP) and 6 o’clock (Alyx) with the only the minute and second hands of the timpiece. The Royal Oak Offshore retains a similar minimalism, but with the addition of a date aperture at three o’clock while all chronograph counters at six, nine, and 12 o’clock have again been removed, only here the hands remain. A design first for a chronograph, says Audemars Piguet.
This isn’t the only time that Williams has worked with Audemars Piguet, although it does mark the first time he has in an official capacity. Several years ago, the current creative director of Givenchy created a series of embossed Alyx branded Royal Oaks in collaboration with MAD Paris.
In an official statement on the collaboration, Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias stated that “This is the first time we have dressed the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore simultaneously, and it was a natural fit thanks to Matthew’s clean, contemporary design! That is the beauty of this collaboration: the synergies are such that we have taken each other to the next level.”