It’s been a long-time coming but seven-time world-champion Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher finally has a timepiece that does credit to his incredible achievements. And before you say anything, yes I am aware that Schumacher was previously a brand ambassador for Omega for over a decade, and as such has many timepieces that bear his famous name, however, I still stand by my previous statement.
Audemars Piguet have created this very special edition of the Chronographe Royal Oak Offshore in close collaboration with Schumacher to celebrate the achievements of a man who many consider to be the greatest racing car driver of all time. According to the brand Schumacher was keen to have as much involvement as possible with the design of the timepiece and worked directly with AP’s Chief Artistic Officer, Octavio Garcia, to share and develop ideas.
The Art Of Being Subtle
Perhaps it’s just nostalgia talking but I have to say I think this close collaboration approach has been highly effective, as for me this is one of those rare limited edition timepieces that actually captures the essence of person it is paying tribute to. The touches are subtle but will really resonate with fans of Schumacher who have followed him throughout his storied career.
Presented in an over-sized, 44 mm case (nothing subtle about that) in your choice of titanium, 18-carat pink gold or platinum 950, the ROO Michael Schumacher has an undeniable presence, much like its namesake. What I really like though is the fact that AP knows there is no need for flashy announcements or bold color schemes to attract attention to Schumacher’s phenomenal achievements as a race-car driver. Instead, all you will find is two blue and five red stars subtly marked at the circumference of the tachymetre scale between 12 and 1 o’clock, symbolizing his record seven championship victories, two driving for Benetton in 1994 and 1995 and five driving for Ferrari from 2000 – 2004.
Now, whilst those seven stars may be the most significant “subtle touch”, they are by no means the only ones. The minute track, for example, is comprised of a black and white pattern reminiscent of a chequered flag, whilst the chronograph counters (black on the titanium and pink gold editions, blue on the platinum edition) feature raised frames based on the dashboard instruments of a high-performance car.
It doesn’t stop there however as we shift our attention to the specially designed but somewhat unusual hour and minute hands. Facetted from gold with a white luminescent coating, their shape is loosely inspired by the silhouette of a Formula 1 car according to the brand. These are complemented by the contrast of the red-lacquered chronograph hands, and for the first time ever on a Royal Oak Offshore, the date display is also in red.
The special treatment hasn’t just been reserved for the dial however. The iconic one-piece, octagonal bezel has been made from an ultra-resistant material called Cermet, which is seven times more durable than steel and is secured by eight automotive-style domed and inset nuts. Meanwhile the micro-blasted crown (made from either titanium, pink gold or white gold) has been machined to resemble a gear wheel and is adorned with a red anodized, aluminum plate carrying the Audemars Piguet logo, whilst the micro-blasted titanium guards protect the polished black ceramic push-pieces, which are topped with caps of either titanium, white or pink gold.
On the reverse-side we discover an exhibition case back that reveals the inner-workings of the 365-part, self-winding calibre 3126/3840. For this special edition the 22-carat gold oscillating weight has been coated in anthracite and features both AP’s logo and Michael Schumacher’s famous “MS” signature.
Pricing for the three models, which will be made available for sale by next year, is as follows; US$42,500 for ref. 26568IM (titanium case – limited to 1,000 pieces), US$75,000 for ref. 26568OM (pink gold case – limited to 500 pieces), and US$110,000 for ref. 26568PM (platinum 950 case – limited to 100 pieces).
The Final Word
What I really like about Audemars Piguet’s collaborations with their ambassadors is that they feel authentic. It’s actually a genuine collaboration and so the end result is much more reflective of the individual they are paying tribute to. For me personally I feel that this is finally a timepiece befitting of Schumacher’s name and achievements and I am sure Formula 1 fans everywhere will agree with me. Admittedly they are priced a little on the high side but in truth I don’t think they will have any trouble selling out the complete collection.
For more information please visit the brand’s official website: www.audemarspiguet.com