The Travis Scott x Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Is a Watch Collab Done Right


The Travis Scott x Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Is a Watch Collab Done Right


The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked “Cactus Jack” caused a stir with its celebrity connection, but its brown ceramic case is the star of the show.
Celebrated watchmaker Audemars Piguet teamed up with an edgy rapper on a collab watch costing around two-hundred grand, and what would you expect but some controversy? The brand worked with artist Travis Scott on its new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked “Cactus Jack” and, at the very least, it got people talking. 
This particular celebrity association along with Audemars Piguet’s history of collaborating with celebs and hip hop stars grabs attention first. When you look closer, though, you’ve got a skeletonized perpetual calendar version of one of the most prestigious watches around, accented with nods to Scott’s apparel label Cactus Jack and a brown ceramic case. To some, the hand-drawn font and the Cactus Jack stitched smiley face for the moonphase might contrast too strongly with such a work of high horology, but the watchmaker isn’t known to shy away from a little controversy.

Photo: Zen Love

There’s the controversy, and then there’s seeing the watch in person


But here’s what I thought when I saw the watch at Audemars Piguet’s AP House in New York: sometimes, it’s easy to overthink a watch. The main takeaway didn’t have anything to do with hype. Instead, the brown ceramic was the star of the show, and the whimsical design elements that seem to polarize netizens, in fact, serve to make this watch interesting and purposeful.

You don’t need to be a collector of Cactus Jack merch, nor a diehard Travis Scott fan (nor have $201,000 to spend on a watch) to appreciate such collaboration watches that feel special. The best examples manage to strike a certain balance and take on a character of their own. The Cactus Jack Royal Oak is exactly that, I’d argue. I recall I felt similarly about the Seiko x Rowing Blazers collab watches, despite being previously unfamiliar with the apparel label. 
So, yes, I actually like the Cactus Jack touches that make this watch unique. You’ve actually got to look closely to appreciate them, and the watch itself is far more understated than some Royal Oaks and other watches Travis Scott has been known to wear.

Photo: Zen Love

A deep brown ceramic case makes for a totally different Royal Oak


In terms of watchmaking there’s plenty of interest here. This is, after all, a skeletonized perpetual calendar from one of the most revered watchmakers. But that’s not a first for Audemars Piguet (there are non-collab versions in blue and black ceramic), whereas a brown ceramic case is. It’s also rare in watches overall.

When you stop to think about it, though, it makes a lot of sense. Brown is a versatile color for the likes of straps (and clothing, for that matter), adding earthy and understated options aside from the more ubiquitous black or steel. Of course, like any color, the exact hue makes all the difference. 
There have been the occasional tan and beige ceramic watches, but Audemars Piguet and Travis Scott went for a deep, chocolatey tone. It appears dark in person and doesn’t give its color away immediately, sometimes taking on grayish shade in some lights. Scott himself apparently refers to the watch as “the Chocolate AP.”
Watchmakers dabbling in ceramic will always tell you how difficult it is to achieve uniformity of a specific color in ceramic other than black or white. Brands have been getting better at it, though, and it’s cool to see more possibilities materialize. 

Image: Audemars Piguet

It’s a thorough, thoughtful collaboration


Watch collabs can often mean little more than slapping on a logo or switching up some colors. Limited to 200 examples, the 41mm-wide Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked “Cactus Jack” is much more than that and, according to the brand, it was in development for years.

Aside from the brown ceramic, branding stretches from all the calendar information on the dial in Scott’s hand-drawn typography, his brand’s logo and the moons’ graphics to his slogan (“utopia is a state of mind”) on the caseback and the Cactus Jack wordmark, again, on the rotor. Also unique is the denim-textured calfskin leather strap. Aside from the watch, Cactus Jack x Audemars Piguet jackets, hoodies, hats, T-shirts and other clothing and accessories are part of the collaboration. 

Photo: Troy Barmore

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked “Cactus Jack” Specs:


Movement: Audemars Piguet 5135 automatic

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, perpetual calendar, astronomical moonphase, week indication

Case: 41mm, brown ceramic, 20m water-resistant

Strap: Denim-textured calfskin leather

Price: $201,000

Availability: Limited to 200 examples


Learn more on Audemars Piguet’s website here.