Iron: The Next New Luxury?

By: Damon Bailey

LE BRASSUS, SWITZERLAND – Bronze watch fans be advised, there’s a new base metal on the horizon (with oxidation properties that could put your Oris to shame).

As the latest of design choices to breach mass appeal, AP (Audemars Piguet) has announced their line-up will expand its offerings to include iron—among stainless steel, gold, and platinum—as the new choice metal for watch case and bracelet options. 

“After a tremendous amount of research and development,” CEO Francois-Henry Bennahmias began, “I’m thrilled to announce we’ve shelved it all and pivoted toward something both bold and unexpected… even if it appears as though we’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel with ideas to produce something that, truly, appears as though it were scraped off the bottom of a barrel.”

“For this reason,” Bennahmias declared, “Audemars Piguet will not refer to our new medium simply as ‘iron.’”  His mustache curled with a smile before revealing the punchline, “Henceforth, we’re calling it, ‘Au Contrair.’

With a choice of metal that’s less ground-breaking (perhaps more bewildering), reactions to the news have been rife with baffled feedback.  One watchmaker commented, “‘Au contrair’ my a**. Why they’d willingly opt for an untreated material that would rust within five feet of a wet fart is beyond me.  The sheer havoc it would wreck on the movement, alone, strikes me as wanton disregard—no, ‘disrespect,’ both to the owner and watchmaking as a craft.”  His trembling hands fumbled over a movement’s mainspring as it violently unfurled, followed by shoulders sagging with resignation.  “And yet… I can’t help but bring myself to want one.”

If it’s anything the watch world has learned from AP however, it’s that mixed reception be taken in stride. Several years ago the company revealed the CODE 11.59, a defiant side-step to demands for more of the Royal Oak—a model iconic for having challenged the conception of precious metal, itself.

“Oi, I’m beside myself,” one London-based dealer confessed.  “Honestly, what sort of tossers’d be willing to buckle down and go arse over tit for a chance to get their hands on a bloody Royal Oak stained with Cheetos crust?” 

Having overshared, he then stiffened and corrected his composure with a cough, followed by a clearing of the throat, “That is to say, “patina.’”

Au Contrair-based Royal Oak price tags are commanding north of 75,000 CHF, potentially triple in cost for second-hand markets.  Priceless, however, are the trace amounts of iron to be seen after their removal from a wrist, the lingering orange reminder of one’s worth commensurate with unequivocal validation.

 
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