This is the big one for SIHH 2019! Here’s an early hands-on article to what will most likely be one of the most discussed watches of the fair – and a crucial event for the brand, CODE 11.59 by Audemars Piguet. Very simply because there has been no product launch of this magnitude over the past 20 years for the brand. Picture this, 13 new references, 6 news models, 3 brand new calibres – including the much awaited in-house integrated chronograph! The ambition: to write a new page in the brand’s history, creating a new pillar in the collection next to the Royal Oak, Royal Oak Offshore, Royal Oak Concept and Millenary.
Why a new collection?
Somehow, nobody had anticipated a launch of these dimensions from Audemars Piguet. The Royal Oak is an established icon and one of the most successful watches today on the market. Some brands just stick to what they do well. Having such a strong product is a unique asset but putting all your eggs in one basket has its risks. Yesterday’s luxury is not necessarily tomorrows. The 1972 Royal Oak was highly disruptive in its day, and later followed the Royal Oak Offshore and the Royal Oak Concept, however the basis for these three lines is now 47 years old.
In general, mono-product business models are also not the best for repeat purchases, although Audemars Piguet, with the line-up of different models and styles within the RO collection seems unaffected by this. The brand’s CEO, François-Henry Bennahmias, is a man with vision, determined to shape the brand to meet future challenges – for more details, watch our recent interview here.
If the name Code 11.59 sounds pretty cool by itself (at least to me), Audemars Piguet also uses it as an acronym to present the watch:
- Challenge -Challenge the limits of craftsmanship
- Own – Our roots and legacy
- Dare – To follow firm convictions
- Evolve – Never stand still
- 11.59 – The last minute before a new day
The Code 11.59 is a contemporary design, “consciously thought for both men and women.” At first glance, the case appears to be round with a thin bezel but you need to look more in details to discover its juxtaposed geometries. The octagon that has become part of the brand DNA has been embedded in the middle case. The lugs are openworked with an original construction as these are actually welded to the bezel and not to the central container. The double curved, domed, glare-proof sapphire crystal feels like an extension of the case body. All models come in a versatile 41mm diameter, a size that will fit most wrists, but which looks bigger with its large dial opening.
The Devil is in the details
As you have come to expect from Audemars Piguet products, the Code 11.59 stands out with its impressive craftsmanship and finishes. The smooth, lacquered dial of the three-hander and chronograph models features, in addition to the softly rounded hour markers and applied numerals, a raised logo that has been a challenge to achieve. It is crafted by galvanic growth and applied to the dial thanks to tiny legs. The thin baton-style hands are perfectly polished.
The finishing of the case is equally impressive with alternating brushed and polished surfaces. The polished chamfer around the dial, the caseband or the lugs are distinctive and magnificent.
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Self-winding
If the Chronograph will most likely be one of the most discussed watches of the Code 11.59 collection, the self-winding three-hander really deserves a closer look. It is the purest expression of this new design, encapsulating the essence of the collection shedding light on the elaborate case construction. Turning the watch over, the exhibition caseback reveals a new self-winding movement, the calibre 4302 that is part of the same family as the new chronograph.
The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 self-winding comes either in 18k pink gold (with white or black lacquered dial) or in 18k white gold (with blue or black lacquered dial).
Quick facts: 41mm white gold or pink gold case – water-resistant to 30m – self-winding calibre 4302 – hours, minutes, seconds and date – alligator strap and pin buckle. Price: CHF 25,000
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Chronograph
The much-awaited Audemars Piguet in-house integrated chronograph has been five years in the making and kicks off in the Code 11.59 collection. This modern, self-winding, flyback chronograph 4400 is a high-end, modern construction featuring a column-wheel, a vertical clutch and a clear focus on performance and efficiency. Measuring 32mm in diameter, it operates at 4hz and can store up to 70 hours of power reserve.
Finishings on the Calibre 4400 include straight and circular satin brushing, Geneva stripes and perlage. The bridges feature diamond polished chamfers. Engravings are gold toned. The 22k gold rotor is openworked with the AP logo, which offers a superb view of the mechanism.
The dial of the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Chronograph is lacquered with a 3-6-9 layout. The counters are circled by gold threads with polished angles. On the periphery of the dial, a tachymeter scale brings a sporty touch. The model is available in 18k pink gold or 18k white gold, with either a black or a blue dial.
Quick facts: 41mm white gold or pink gold case – water-resistant to 30m – self-winding calibre 4401 – flyback chronograph, hours, minutes, seconds and date – alligator strap and pin buckle. Price: CHF 39,500
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Perpetual Calendar
Powered by the calibre 5134, the Code 11.59 Perpetual Calendar comes in pink gold. It stands out with its dark blue aventurine dial recalling a star-lit sky. We didn’t have the chance to see the watch in the metal yet, but it will soon be featured on MONOCHROME.
Quick facts: 41mm pink gold case – water-resistant to 20m – self-winding calibre 5134 – perpetual calendar, moon phase, hours and minutes – alligator strap and folding buckle. Price: CHF 69,500
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Self-winding Tourbillon
The Code 11.59 Self-Winding Tourbillon houses the third new Audemars Piguet calibre presented on the occasion of the launch of this collection. The calibre 2950 is a self-winding, flying tourbillon. The dial is Grand Feu enamel and the reason why it does not feature the raised logo – which is almost impossible on such a dial. The finishing of the movement is, as usual, superb and features several hand-made decorations.
Quick facts: 41mm white gold or pink gold case – water-resistant to 30m – self-winding calibre 2950 – flying tourbillon, hours and minutes – alligator strap and folding buckle. Price: CHF 129,000
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked
This version stands out with its openworked tourbillon movement that conveys a sense of complexity and depth. The skeleton calibre is finished in a contemporary way with dark bridges and plate.
Quick facts: 41mm pink gold case – water-resistant to 30m – hand-wound calibre 2948 – tourbillon, hours and minutes – alligator strap and folding buckle. Price: CHF 175,000
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Supersonnerie
Last but not least, the Code 11.59 comprises a Supersonnerie. This exceptional minute repeater concept was introduced a few years go by Audemars Piguet. Its remarkable acoustic performance is achieved thanks to gongs that are not attached to the main plate but to a new device acting as a soundboard. The striking mechanism regulator eliminates unwanted background noise. The dial is smoked-blue enamel.
Quick facts: 41mm white gold case – water-resistant to 20m – hand-wound calibre 2953 – Supersonnerie minute repeater, hours, minutes and small seconds – alligator strap and folding buckle. Price: CHF 295,000
The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 is a superb watch with a unique personality. Its design is contemporary while incorporating clear Audemars Piguet design elements and DNA.
Classic and unconventional at the same time, it stands out on the wrist and I can thoroughly recommend that you go hands-on with it, if only just to check it out in person. More details, www.audemarspiguet.com.