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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Leo Messi Limited Edition
Leo Messi’s finest hat trick?
I was given my first Audemars Piguet in 2005. A pink gold Edward Piguet Chronograph on a brown leather strap. I smiled when I read that Leo Messi received his first Audemars Piguet in the same year.
Leo Messi fell for the charms of the Royal Oak, the iconic watch adored by many and has collected them ever since.
Sadly for me, I still only have one Audemars Piguet in my collection. But I do have a space in my wooden watch collector’s box marked AP in readiness. Similar to the Managing Director’s parking space, this is reserved for my latest horological obsession, a Royal Oak.
I must confess, I have never been a football fanatic. My heroes live in the Jura mountains, spend their days designing timepieces or wearing loupes helping to craft beautiful watches.
I think my lack of interest in football stemmed from being an adolescent boy at school, forced to face the weekly humiliation of being picked for “the game”.
The format would include leaning against the gymnasium wall, whilst two golden boys, would be tasked with selecting their team. The numbers would dwindle until it was Hobson’s choice, Angus or the librarian type who had forgotten to bring his kit.
My lack of ability on the field was compounded by my large, lumbering frame honed on a diet of chocolate and chips. My role was, “to blubber him”. The team captain would task me with using my bulk to squash the oncoming player and effectively rugby tackle him to the floor as one of my talented teammates would take possession.
I always feared that whilst beached on the ground a Japanese fisherman would mistakenly harpoon my recumbent torso, but thankfully I have lived to tell the tale and continue to indulge my obsession of all things horological.
In stark contrast, Leo Messi has possessed a prodigious talent from a young age. Born in Argentina in 1987, he was blessed with a precocious ability for football, attracting interest from a small age.
His path was challenging due to a personal battle with a growth hormone deficiency diagnosed at a young age. The treatment was costly, but FC Barcelona heard of his ability and offered to pay his medical bills as part of a contract with the team.
Messi relocated to Spain at the tender age of 13 with his father, enrolled at the club’s youth academy and has gone on to become the world’s finest footballer.
A mere 24 years old, this brilliant footballer has already left an indelible mark on the game. He has been voted Ballon d”Or three times and has been named best player several times, winner of five Spanish championships and three Champions Leagues and still the plaudits keep coming.
Leo Messi became an ambassador for Audemars Piguet back in 2010. I always look at brand ambassadors and try to evaluate their suitability and fit with the brand they represent.
Messi has mastered the craft of football and due to his depth of understanding can mesmerisingly out-perform his competitors with unexpected tricks with the ball and flourishes of originality which few could have imagined. There is a fit with AP, a brand which has eloquently summed up its own talent with a new strap line this year, “To break the rules, you must first master them”.
Leo has overcome his former health challenges and become a stylish, wealthy young man but has remained loyal to his roots. An ambassador for Unicef, he tries to “put something back” into society. He has founded his own charitable foundation, “Fundación Leo Messi”, which has projects back in his native Argentina, Spain and seeks to help children worldwide.
This year Audemars Piguet celebrates 40 years of the Royal Oak. In January 2012, the brand from Le Brassus, revealed two limited edition models at SIHH to commemorate this event.
The Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak has a 39mm case and is produced in a limited series of 40. The second limited edition presented at SIHH was the Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak Tourbillon 41mm, again a limited run of only 40.
Now Audemars Piguet have revealed their third and final limited edition model for 2012, the Royal Oak Leo Messi.
This watch is available in three variants, unmistakably a Royal Oak, but with a fresh look we have never seen before.
Steel - reference 26325TS.OO.D005CR.01
18 carat pink gold - reference 26325OL.OO.D005CR.01
Platinum - reference 26325PL.OO.D310CR.01
When Gerald Genta penned his classic Royal Oak in 1972, it featured a blue petite tapisserie dial.
I fell for the charms of 41mm Self-Winding Royal Oak earlier this year which featured a black tapisserie dial. It continues to be one of my favourite watches of 2012 and is on my ever-growing wish list.
The Royal Oak Leo Messi has a very different dial. It has a brushed anthracite finish on the steel and pink gold variants, and on my favourite version, the platinum model, a brushed blue dial.
The dial features appliqué hour markers, faithful to the original. The Royal Oak hands are retained, presented in white gold on the platinum version with luminescent markings to their centre.
Three subdials feature on the dial. At 3 o’clock a 30 minute chrono counter resides. Subsidiary seconds are located at 6 o’clock. A 12 hour chrono counter is located at 9 o’clock. The main colour of the dial is repeated at the centre of the subdials and silver coloured circlet define their perimeter.
A date aperture is located between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock.
A chapter ring, features small white integers to indicate both minutes and in between these 12 second integers.
The AP logo resides to the north of the dial in contrast to the 1972 original where it sat just above 6 o’clock.
The dial is a model of clarity. Still recognisable as a Royal Oak, but with a contemporary persona.
The octagonal bezel shape of the original is retained. It features eight hexagonal screws in polished white gold faithful to the Gerald Genta design of 1972, but the bezel is made of tantalum.
Tantalum is a hard, blue-grey metal, highly resistant to corrosion and about twice as heavy as steel. It is rare and often used in laboratory equipment as it is chemically inert. In this instance it affords the watch a unique hue. In some light the blue tincture appears dominant and then with a slight twist of the wrist a grey shade takes precedent.
The original 1972 model featured both brushed and polished surfaces on the bezel and they flirted with light wonderfully. The tantalum has a different appearance but has learnt from the master and coquettishly toys with the suns rays.
Each watch is supplied with two straps, one in hand stitched “large square scale” crocodile leather and a second strap in black rubber. They affix to the case with four fastening links made of the aforementioned tantalum. The straps attach to a deployant made of platinum, featuring the letters "A" and "P" and reinforce the high-end character of the watch.
The crown and pusher surrounds echo the profile of the bezel, presented in noblest of metals in the case of the platinum variant I favour.
The crown features the AP logo on its vertical flank. The rounded centres of the pushers are highly polished and contrast with the adjacent satin surfaces.
The case back is solid, retained with eight screws. The case back is engraved with the words “Limited Edition” and “Leo Messi”. At the centre of the dial are the words “Royal Oak”. This is the only area I want to change. I would have favoured a sapphire crystal back because I know that within the case is one of the finest examples of finissage on the market.
The self-winding mechanical calibre 2385 is a manufacture movement. The belle of Le Brassus is the result of impeccable breeding.
Audemars Piguet Manufacture in Le Brassus
Calibre 2385 features 304 components, 37 jewels, has a frequency of 21,600 vph and a power reserve of 40 hours.
The movement has a diameter of 26.2 mm and every aspect of it is finely finished.
One aspect I particularly admire is the 18-carat monobloc gold rotor featuring straight line engraving.
The rhodium plated base plate is adorned with perlage. The bridges feature Côtes de Genève.
Peerless craftsmanship is hidden from view. I wish the watchmaker would allow me to share the beauty of their work. The finishing of this watch is truly spectacular and testament to the expertise of Audemars Piguet who were founded in 1875.
I have already confessed to having little affinity with football, however, in preparation of this article I have watched clips of Signor Messi playing football and must confess to being amazed at his colossal talent.
He appears to stand with the ball, almost stationery, whilst his opponent wonders how to dispossess him of the white leather sphere. Then, quicker than a blink of an eye, he has run around them with rapier-like alacrity, leaving them in his wake.
His skill on the pitch is commensurate with the adoration his fans bestow upon him. However, for me it is the man away from the field, his benevolence and his triumph over adversity which distinguishes him.
Some will challenge my question, “Leo Messi’s finest hat trick?”, when citing the three models which bear his name. But, the collaboration between Leo Messi and Audemars Piguet has resulted in three gorgeous timepieces I covet with every fibre of my body.
A personal hero of mine is Octavio Garcia, Artistic Director of Audemars Piguet. He was tasked with revisiting Gerald Genta’s original work and successfully delivered an incredible collection at SIHH earlier this year. This watch is a neoteric interpretation of the 1972 model and to my mind one of the finest Royal Oak models I have seen.
I now have to reconcile the frustration of wanting two further Audemars Piguet models for my collection, the pink gold Royal Self-Winding on bracelet and the platinum Royal Oak Lionel Messi.
I am glad Audemars Piguet do not plan to launch any further limited edition models this year as my fiscal frustrations would exceed their already elevated level.
- Model: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Leo Messi Limited Edition
- Case: Platinum; diameter 41.00 mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front; solid case back inscribed "ROYAL OAK LIMITED EDITION" and "LEO MESSI".
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph.
- Movement: Manufacture Calibre 2385, self-winding; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 37 jewels; power reserve 40 hours; 304 parts.
- Strap: Supplied with two straps. One strap in crocodile leather and a second strap in black rubber. The straps attach to an AP platinum deployant.
The Royal Oak Leo Messi Limited Edition video