LeBron James is undoubtedly one of the greatest talents to ever play in the NBA. At this point, following up on the LA Lakers‘ 2020 championship win, many people around the league even believe that James deserves GOAT status. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, one thing is clear: James is easily the most influential player of his generation.
Throughout his NBA career, James has displayed an equally impressive ability to leverage his influence financially via sponsorships and business deals. One of James’s most interesting collaborations to date was with Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet. Let’s look at that exciting project, as well as some of James’ other successful collaborations.
LeBron James’ history with watches
Before we dive into James’ most recent collaboration, a little bit of background is in order. James is no stranger to the world of luxury watches. Like a lot of his superstar peers in the NBA (Chris Paul, for instance), James is an avid collector of high-end timepieces, with a jaw-dropping collection recently highlighted by GQ.
James can most often be seen sporting his gold, diamond-encrusted Patek Philippe Nautilus. He also frequently wears one of several different versions of the Richard Mille RM 11-03, a Patek Philippe 6102R dress watch, and a classic gold Rolex Day-Date. Needless to say, most of the watches in James’ collection come with five- and six-figure price tags.
James collaborates with Audemars Piguet
Back in 2013, James participated in a collaboration with the Swiss watch brand Audemars Piguet. The company has been in the business of designing high-quality timepieces since 1875. Speaking with CNBC, James had this to say about his thinking behind the collaboration: “I always liked watches growing up. When the opportunity presented itself it was easy to say yes.”
Francois-Henry Bennahmias, the CEO of Audemars Piguet spoke of the collaboration in equally enthusiastic terms, saying of James, “He is a truly unique person. When we met for the first time there was a good connection and we knew that we would do something together.”
The James-designed Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph is truly a collector’s piece and is chock full of the kinds of details that only accompany true luxury products. To begin with, the watch is 44mm wide and 17mm thick, per specs on the Audemars Piguet website. That size makes it large enough to stand out on even an arm as muscular as James’.
The watch case is constructed of 18-carat pink gold, with a glareproof sapphire crystal and caseback. The caseback is engraved with a special legend: “Royal Oak Offshore Limited Edition Lebron James.” It also bears a facsimile of James’ signature, printed in blue ink. The dial features pink gold numerals, gold hands with special luminescent coating.
The pushpieces on the outside of the watch are fashioned from black ceramic, with the pushpiece located at the 2 o’clock position also being studded with diamonds. The grey, hand-stitched alligator strap nicely compliments the colors of the watchface, and has an 18-carat pink gold pin buckle.
LeBron James’ collaboration with the wealthy in mind
James‘ limited edition watch screams luxury in every facet of its design. Unsurprisingly, it bore a price tag to match, with the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph originally listing for $51,500. At this point, the watch is long out of stock from Audemars Piguet. But it is still available from resellers, with a significant markup, for over $70,000, according to Chrono24.
In other words, James’ Audemars Piguet watch remains out of reach for all but the wealthiest NBA fans. Fortunately for the rest of us, James has participated in plenty of other collaborations at more reasonable price points. In 2017, he collaborated with New York-based lifestyle brand Kith on a line of both footwear and apparel, according to Fashion Network.
In 2020, James collaborated on a limited edition version of his Lebron 8 sneakers with popular menswear brand John Elliott. That collaboration resulted in a number of unique colorways at a price that, while expensive for a pair of shoes, remains far more reasonable for the casual fan than a Swiss luxury watch.