Peaches and cream. Fish and chips. Cars and watches. These are all things that have gone together beautifully since time immemorial, such perfect combinations that they could be used as a legitimate argument to prove the existence of God. But none so much as the pairing of Audemars Piguet and Maserati. ‘But what about TAG Heuer and McLaren?’ you are no doubt saying, ‘What about Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin?’ Those are fine examples of automotive-watchmaking collaborations, but they don’t quite share the same bond as Audemars Piguet and Maserati. Got no idea what all this is about?
In 1972, Audemars Piguet achieved several things. Firstly, they introduced the world to designer Gerald Genta’s masterpiece, the Royal Oak. Secondly, they established the concept of the hyperwatch; the Royal Oak cost ten times more than Rolex’s Submariner, more so than even the brand’s own flagship complication watch (in gold no less). And thirdly—and perhaps most importantly—they narrowly avoided being sucked into the oblivion. You see, the watchmaker had been suffering since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the onset of the electronic age was almost enough to sink it completely. Its watches, although drawing from a century of class-leading experience, were traditionally styled and unappealing to a public that had just seen a man walk on the Moon. Something needed to change, and the Royal Oak and its outrageous price tag was exactly the change that was needed.
Still none the wiser as to how this involves Maserati? Here’s an exercise for you: go on to the Maserati Wikipedia page and search for the word ‘bankruptcy’. It’s there three times, the worst episode of which was in 1997, when after a series of lacklustre cars, the company had packed its proverbial desk and was on its way out the door for the last time. Its saviour? A hypercar so expensive and so exclusive that its owners were chosen by Maserati themselves. Covered in louvres and swollen with power, this car—with the help of Ferrari, who purchased Maserati—dragged the brand back from the brink, even if its ferocious handling and uncompromising size made it almost impossible to drive on the road.
This shared experience is why car and watch fit so well together. So much history, so much heritage, and yet they both nearly ended up as a footnote in the pages of history. They were the lucky ones—there are many greats from both industries that didn’t make it. And that’s why this Audemars Piguet Millenary Maserati MC12 edition is so special. On the surface, it shares a blue-and-white colour scheme, styling cues and iconic trident logo with its four-wheeled cousin, but it’s how they came to be that resonates the most between them. Two legendary brands, two near-death experiences. It’s almost like the relationship was a mutual ‘well done’.
And the beauty of the Millenary MC12—like the V12-powered, Ferrari Enzo-based monster on which it’s based—is more than skin deep; the platinum-cased tourbillon chronograph is finished to the highest standard, the open-faced dial and contemporary skeletonisation of the rear-mounted chronograph mechanism putting everything on show. The quality can be felt through the action of the pushers: solid and satisfying.
Perhaps you’re not convinced. Perhaps you’re thinking that this pairing is nothing more than clever marketing and shrewd brand association. Me? I like to think that, when the designers at Audemars Piguet met those at Maserati to discuss the collaboration, there was a knowing look between them, an understanding of the hardships each brand had to fight through to make it to that very meeting. The Millenary MC12 is a watch built on mutual respect and admiration, and that’s a bond stronger than any kind of marketing propaganda. Peaches and cream? This is divine intervention.