With the NBA playoffs in full swing, and LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers moving on to the second round, we re-present our feature on the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore LeBron James limited edition, launched in fall 2013, which had the design input of James himself. Here are five things to know about the timepiece
1. It’s not what one usually expects in a star athlete-branded sports watch. “King James’s” Audemars Piguet is not predominantly black; it does not display his current team’s colors or his jersey number; it has no obvious references to his sport (i.e., the baseball counterweight on the seconds hand of Randy Johnson’s Ulysse Nardin or the basketball pattern on James’s teammate Dwyane Wade’s Hublot); and it’s not even overly large (the case is a relatively modest 44 mm in diameter). The color scheme choice of light gray (in certain light, it appears almost off-white) for the dial and alligator strap, combined with rose gold, came from James himself. The Cavs (and former Miami Heat) star is known for being intense off the court but stylish off it, and for the watch bearing his name, he chose to go with a more “off-court” look, a watch he could wear with a tuxedo. “I love the strap,” James states in Audemars Piguet’s release. “We talked a lot about the possibilities and I thought gray would be the perfect color. At first you don’t really think pink gold and gray will work together, but when you match it up with this watch and this style, it’s a perfect combination.”
2. Its got a touch of bling — but just a touch. LeBron not only wanted to go stylish over sporty, but also, unlike some other celebrity-endorsed timepieces, subtle over showy. The chronograph push-piece at 2 o’clock is the only place on this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore watch that is, almost discreetly, set with diamonds. Both push-pieces, as well as the winding crown, are made of black ceramic.
3. The case combines two rarely combined materials. The watch is still instantly recognizable as a Royal Oak Offshore, with its famous octagonal case and “mega-tapisserie” patterned dial. The case is in 18k rose gold and also features a brushed titanium bezel, with the traditional eight screws, which echoes the gray tones in the dial and strap. The push-piece guards combine rose gold with gray rubber. The sapphire crystal has a glareproof coating. The case is water-resistant to 100 meters. The applied Arabic numerals and hands are also in 18k rose gold.
4. The movement is complicated, highly decorated, and on display. The Royal Oak Offshore LeBron James Limited Edition contains Audemars Piguet’s automatic Caliber 3126/3840, whose functions include a date display (in a window at 3’clock on the dial), small seconds (on a subdial at 12 o’clock) and chronograph (with counters at 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock). The movement is 26 mm in diameter, 7.16 mm thick and consists of 365 parts, including 59 jewels. It has a frequency of 21,600 vph and a power reserve of 55 hours. Its embellishments include circular graining on the mainplate, côtes de Genève on the beveled bridges, and a partially openworked 22k gold rotor with an anthracite galvanic treatment and a raised Audemars Piguet “AP” logo. The movement is visible through a sapphire exhibition caseback that also bears James’s signature, printed in blue.
5. If you’re planning to buy one, you’ll need a tidy sum, and maybe a bit of luck. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore LeBron James limited edition is limited to only 600 pieces worldwide. The price of admission to wear the same watch as the four-time NBA MVP and two-time world champ? That would be $51,500.
This article was originally published on September 30, 2013, and has been updated.