http://www.thewatchbox.com Audemars Piguet and Lionel "Leo" Messi. That's a power play waiting to happen, and this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Leo Messi limited edition is a championship-caliber union of two icons. As one of only 500 Royal Oak Chronograph Leo Messi limited models to be issued in stainless steel and tantalum, this signature edition luxury chronograph sets the standard by which all "ambassador" editions by all luxury watchmakers are to be judged. Like its namesake football savant, the Royal Oak Chronograph Leo Messi excels with a judicious balance of refinement, art, and masculine strength. Each facet of this remarkable 41mm Audemars Piguet is finished and appointed to a singular standard. The deviation from conventional Royal Oak cues begins with the supple and sleek alligator leather strap. More than a welcome contrast with the metallic tones of the case, the strap breaks the traditional Audemars Piguet Royal Oak norm of pairing the non-"Offshore" variants with a metal bracelet. At the junction of steel and leather, strap plots (links) crafted from brushed tantalum shift the Royal Oak Chronograph Leo Messi from exceptional to downright exotic. Tantalum ranks among the most challenging metals to work and finish. Its extreme density grants it the mass to rival platinum and the strength to wear artisanal tools to blunt stubs. AP rarely deploys this monster metal, but champions like Lionel Messi warrant tributes above and beyond "normal" signature models. The interplay of blue-gray tantalum and stainless steel continues at the transition from case top to Audemars Piguet's iconic octagonal "Royal Oak" bezel. As the heart and soul of Gerald Genta's 1972 design opus, the eight-sided bezel has featured as the centerpiece of every Royal Oak, Offshore, and limited edition of each since the first prototype rolled out of Vaud. Here rendered in brushed gunmetal-gray tantalum, the Royal Oak bezel assumes a strength and majesty becoming of a watch named for an Argentine national hero and international role model; Leo Messi's acts as an ambassador of vastly greater responsibilities than a mere brand spokesman. As an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak owner since 2005 (age 17!) and a brand ambassador since 2010, Messi is a connoisseur of the brand, the model, and the impact that small changes can impart to the classic Royal Oak. If the Bezel of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Leo Messi is a standout, the dial is nearly unique. Shorn of the typical Royal Oak "tapisserie" waffle pattern, the Leo Messi embodies the clean aesthetic specified by the athlete himself. The only texture of this remarkable visage is a subtle vertical graining. A semi-gloss metallic gleam adds life to the composition, and diamond-polished applied white gold indexes shine like jewels inboard of a mirror-finished dial flange. There's no need for gauche gemstones in the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Leo Messi; the entire watch is a jewel. Leo Messi and Audemars Piguet invite one final all-star to their party: Frederic Piguet. As the longtime movement powerhouse behind Blancpain complications, Vacheron Constantin's Overseas Chronograph, and AP's 1997-present Royal Oak Chronographs, F. Piguet is an haut-de-gamme engineering house to the elite of Swiss high horology. The vertical clutch (smooth engagement) and column wheel (crisp pusher feel) AP cal 2385 is based on F. Piguet's vaunted cal. 1180 series of integrated automatic movements. Considered to rank among the greatest chronograph movements of the late 20th century and often cited as the inspiration for Rolex's industry-benchmark Daytona cal. 4130, the Piguet chronograph is precisely the "assist" that Leo Messi and AP needed to complete their masterpiece. thewatchbox.com is proud to offer this 100% complete Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Leo Messi and commemorative boxed set in outstanding condition. The Messi-themed accessories are guaranteed to entertain even non-fans, and the highlight of the set is an exquisite lacquered wooden "cleat box" that serves as a worthy display case for an exceptional luxury watch. See it in high-resolution images on www.thewatchbox.com. Video and content by Tim Mosso.