Set to leave Audemars Piguet on a high after serving as its CEO for a decade, Francois-Henry Bennahmias is exiting the brand with a bang by pulling off yet another major pop-culture coup.
Following a modern tradition of collaborations with cultural movers and shakers, as embodied by milestone timepieces such as the Royal Oak Offshore Jay-Z 10th Anniversary in 2005 (brokered by Bennahmias while he was the president of Audemars Piguet North America), Audemars Piguet now unveils its latest partnership with Cactus Jack, the record label and brand by American rapper Travis Scott. Bennahmias apparently first met Scott, an AP client, in 2020.
The timepiece born of this alliance is the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked “Cactus Jack” in brown ceramic, a signature hue for Cactus Jack and a new ceramic colour for Audemars Piguet. In line with the aesthetic of other ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar watches, the 41mm brown ceramic case features a mix of satin-brushed surfaces and polished angles. The unique touches on this collaborative version — a 200-piece limited edition that Scott apparently calls “the chocolate AP” — give it a distinctive and youthful personality.
Specially designed typography used in the calendar displays is based on Scott’s own handwriting, and the hand on the day-of-the-week subdial takes the form of his brand’s logo. Instead of the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar’s standard shadowy lunar-surface images, the moon-phase display here features Cactus Jack’s signature (and somewhat morbid) smiley face with sewn lips. All the markers and hands of the calendar displays are lumed in blue and green.
Also new with this model is its textured calfskin leather strap, which comes with a pink-gold folding clasp engraved with the names of the brand and the artist. It is interesting that the timepiece does not come with a matching ceramic bracelet, given that the bracelet is typically a Royal Oak highlight. Further references are made to the collaboration on the caseback, which is engraved with the terms “Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar”, “Limited Edition of 200 Pieces” and “Utopia is a state of mind” — referencing Scott’s latest album Utopia.
Like other Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar models, this watch is powered by the skeletonised self-winding Calibre 5135. Here, however, the pink-gold rotor is distinguished by the engraved logos of the two collaborative brands.
Almost as exciting (or more exciting, depending on who you ask) is the line of merch that the two brands worked on together as part of this collab. The collection will include T-shirts, jackets, pyjamas and caps, and will be available online soon at shop.traviscott.com.
The mutual admiration in Bennahmias’s AP coda is palpable. In an interview with The Business of Fashion, the outgoing (in every sense of the word) CEO raves, “Travis could raise an army… He’s got such a power. People follow him in a major way.”
Scott responds with an equal level of enthusiasm in the launch’s press notes: “I’m beyond amped about the results, a first ever for the iconic Royal Oak. For it to be my brother Francois’s final project as CEO of AP makes it even more epic — we are sending him out with a mega f*cking epic mic drop… LETTTTTSSSS GOOOOO.”
The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked “Cactus Jack” Limited Edition is priced at 178,000 Swiss francs (approx. S$272,227), excluding taxes.