LeBron James Teams with Audemars Piguet
by roberta naas
LeBron James wearing the Royal Oak Offshore LeBron James watch he designed with Audemars Piguet.
Four-time MVP-awarded basketball player and three-time Olympic gold medalist LeBron James has had a long relationship with Audemars Piguet, a brand he was introduced to by his friend Jay-Z. Then, about two and a half years ago, James became a global ambassador for Audemars Piguet and went to work to create a timepiece that reflects his inimitable style.
“The mechanics of watchmaking have always interested me,” says James, who traveled to the Audemars Piguet factory in Switzerland to get a first-hand look at the creation of these luxury timepieces. “I have never imagined the number of stages and the amount of people involved in making a watch from start to finish, from conception to final product. It requires a lot of technical skill and patience.”
The limited-edition timepiece reflects James’s style with materials that are “durable yet sophisticated.”
Those two attributes are also required of James in his professional career both on and off the court. James is a team player all the way, having led the Miami Heat to two NBA championships. “There is no greater satisfaction than being part of a team that makes the necessary sacrifices and goes on that journey together to win a championship at the end of the year,” he says. “That will always be my goal as long as I’m playing basketball.”
Sizing up the current season, James says there is some tough competition out there. “The East has some great teams that got even better this off season. So there are a lot of teams that will be difficult for us, but we just need to stay focused and play Miami Heat basketball.”
The Royal Oak Offshore LeBron James watch has an 18k pink-gold case with a titanium bezel and oversize Arabic numerals, and houses a 365-part self-winding chronograph movement
James deftly juggles his basketball career, his home life as a newlywed, and his involvement with the charity he founded with his mother, Gloria, in 2004, The LeBron James Family Foundation. “This initiative with third graders, back in my hometown in Ohio, has the ambition to help them graduate from high school,” says James. “The work is extremely important to me. I was one of these kids, so it means a lot to be able to positively affect their lives and help keep them in school and on the right track.”
Audemars Piguet is donating a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the new Royal Oak Offshore LeBron James watch to the foundation. “On top of the fact that they craft highly technical, beautiful, and iconic pieces,” says James of Audemars Piguet, “I like that they are a family owned company with a big appetite for philanthropy.” According to James, he and the brand share several similarities. “Passion, forward-thinking, sophistication, technical mastery, and [being] long-lasting,” says James, who had real input into the design of the new timepiece. “When designing my watch, I requested materials such as titanium and black ceramic that were very strong and durable yet elegant and sophisticated.”
James’s signature is printed in blue on the sapphire crystal caseback of the watch, which is created in a limited edition of 600 pieces. The timepiece is built in 18k pink gold with a titanium bezel and houses a 365-part self-winding chronograph movement. It retails for $51,500. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-864-6776
photography by richard hannon