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Houston’s hometown hero Megan Thee Stallion was back in town to throw the first pitch at the Astros’ season opener last weekend. She needed a watch that would match the occasion, befit her celebrity, and still blend in seamlessly with the sporty environment (and Ms. Stallion’s baseball attire). She came to the same conclusion that so much of Hollywood royalty does: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
The RO is one of the most recognizable pieces in the watch world. If there were a watch Olympics, the RO is definitely medaling in the popularity competition alongside the Rolex Daytona and Patek Philippe Nautilus. The industry is dominated by pieces that blend luxury and sports, and the Royal Oak perfected this balance when it was released in 1972 (it was created by legendary designer Gérald Genta, the man behind the Nautilus). Brands are still trying to drum up business by associating themselves with Genta: LVMH is reviving the late designer’s namesake label and others are digging his watches out of their archives (more on that below).
The apocryphal story about the Royal Oak is that an Audemars Piguet executive called Genta the day before a presentation and asked him for a new watch. The designer then sketched the model that would turn AP’s fortunes overnight. Decades later, the Royal Oak takes on many forms. Part of the watch’s brilliance is that it looks good with any complication and in all materials. Megan’s watch is yellow gold with a chronograph function.
The Royal Oak has become the watch for superstar athletes; it hardly feels like a joke anymore to say you can’t be an NBA All-Star without first owning one. The RO’s firm place in the world of sports also makes it extremely appropriate on the baseball diamond. She is now Megan Thee Royal Oak wearer.
Braun already has the new-new. Unveiled just last week, this was one of my favorite pieces to come out of the watch’s industry’s gargantuan Watches & Wonders trade show. The hot-out-the-manufactre Ingenieur is a revival of a Genta design from the 1970s. The watch pulls all of Genta’s classic calling cards: the integrated bracelet, sporty look, and the exposed screws on the bezel. Good to see the W&W pieces already out in the wild.
Lindor might be MLB’s most prolific watch collector. Of course, he owns a number of Royal Oaks. Thursday night, Lindor turned up to the GQ Creativity Awards—or, excuse me, the party of the year—wearing this $400,000 Patek, which tracks the night sky—or, to be precise, the “nocturnal sky in the northern hemisphere,” according to PP.) Documenting the night sky is one helluva good excuse to make a watch this pretty.
It takes a certain type of athlete to wear Roger Dubuis. In the past, we’ve seen RD’s watches on the likes of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, which is pretty good company to keep. This week, UFC fighter Adesanya wore the brand’s Excalibur to throw out the first pitch at a Miami Marlins game. Dubuis’s watches are known to be out-there in terms of design, and the Excalibur is a real show stopper. The dial is skeletonized, and part of the watch’s mechanism is star-shaped.
In the ‘90s Panerai was associated with action stars who took down small militias or lethal predators with thermal-vision. Now, Panerai has a new mascot: he’s a 5’1” plumber from Brooklyn who wears overalls, loves mushrooms, sports a mustache, and has a cheery disposition (his favorite word is Wahoo!) … all despite the fact he has to keep rescuing a princess from a fire-breathing turtle. Pratt, the man who voices Mario in the new movie based on the Nintendo character, has turned to Panerai consistently while promoting The Super Mario Bros. Movie. This week, he wore a massive turtle-shell-sized 47 millimeter version of the brand’s Radiomir.