For those who are into watchmaking, the name Audemars Piguet might represent some of the finest watches, but also modern and bold designs. Whether it is the iconic Royal Oak, the robust Offshore or the recent Code 11.59, Audemars Piguet rarely looks to the past when it comes to its watches, or at least when to comes to the design of its watches. But this is about to change. Today Audemars Piguet launches a new watch which looks at one of the most iconic wrist chronographs of its past, the ref. 1533. Its name is the [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph. And it really offers a strong dose of desirability.
First of all, this isn’t a proper vintage re-edition. As indicated by its name, [Re]master01 “is a contemporary remastering of one of our past creations” says Michael Friedman, Audemars Piguet’s Head of Complications. This is a blend of heritage and modernity. As such, it might be visually inspired by the past model but comes in modern dimensions and features an innovative movement inside. But before we look at this Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 in detail, let’s dive into the past first.
The inspiration, the Audemars Piguet Ref. 1533
Audemars Piguet is mostly known for its signature luxury sports watches. In fact, the watch that kickstarted the trend of the luxury sports watch, the 1972 Royal Oak, dominates the scenery to much that it’s easy to forget that AP manufactured some of the finest chronographs and perpetual calendars. However, these wrist chronographs by Audemars Piguet are rare, very rare. According to the experts, only 307 examples were made between the 1930s through the 1950s – an era we know as the golden age of fine chronographs, with hand-wound movements, original designs and splendid dials. Back then, the chronograph wasn’t yet the sports watch we know today (this would occur in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with the Speedmaster and the Daytona). Back in these days, Audemars Piguet was manufacturing refined, precious dress chronographs. One of the best examples being the ref. 1533. And all were unique pieces.
The Audemars Piguet 1533 is the perfect example of the high-end 1940s chronograph. It packs all the desirable elements you could dream of. First of all, it has a 36mm case, and surprisingly, this case could be ordered in a combination of stainless steel and pink gold, like the present example. Second, it featured attractive teardrop lugs, reminiscent of the Art Deco era, which can also be seen on the dial with the stylized 12. Also relatively rare for the era, this was 3-counter chronograph. The dial of the vintage model that served as the inspiration was made in a unique rose-champagne colour, with blued chronograph hands.
Regarding scarcity, according to Phillips Watches, “only three stainless steel and gold chronograph wristwatches with the present case design were manufactured in 1941 and later sold in 1943, and the example offered here is the only one with such a (…) dial.” The dial also features a tachymeter scale as well as a nice detail; the number “45” is printed in red above the 15-minute mark inside the 30-minute register – to allow the wearer to record up to 45 minutes.
This Audemars Piguet 1533 was powered by a hand-wound movement, the well-known calibre 13VZAH with 22 jewels – manufactured by Valjoux – a classic column-wheel and horizontal clutch movement. The present piece has appeared at least twice on the auction circuit. First in 2013 with Sotheby’s and sold for CHF 115,000 and then again in 2015 with Phillips and sold for CHF 305,000. This very watch, now in the hands of the Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, has been reinterpreted in a modern package with a well-known in-house chronograph movement.
The new Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph
When looking at this new chronograph, there can be no doubt about the filiation between the vintage 1533 and the new [Re]master01. This is obvious. Most the details have been brought back, whether it is the two-tone case, the shapes, the lugs or the dial and all its elements. Although the watch might feel vintage and belong to a heritage collection, there’s also some modernity in it… It feels more modern, size-wise and material-wise.
The case of the [Re]master01 is still made of a combination of stainless steel and 18 pink gold – the latter being used for the bezel, the crown and the rounded pushers. To adapt to the modern mechanics and modern tastes, the case now measures 40mm. The signature design element of the 1533, the “teardrop” lugs, which bring the Art Deco feel to this watch, are also part of this new piece. The case is entirely polished.
The dial of the Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 is also an ode to the past model, with all its element beautifully reproduced. There’s a definite 1940s/Art Deco feel, with the blue tachymeter scale, the stylized 12 marker, the elongated batons, the simple, thin gold hands. Fonts and sub-dials have also been reproduced, including the “45” indication in the minute recorder. The 3 hands for the chronograph are blued steel, like the original. There is no date aperture. In a departure from the original, the dial is a yellow gold colour instead of rose gold and the sub-dials are placed differently because of the modern movement: small seconds at 6 o’clock, 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock and 12-hour counter at 3 o’clock.
One small detail to note, the new [Re]master01 features the signature “Audemars Piguet & Co. Genève” on the dial, even though it is manufactured in Le Brassus like all AP watches. From around 1885 to the mid-1970s, Audemars Piguet had a workshop in Geneva to be closer to its clients and facilitate distribution within Europe and beyond. As a tribute to the original piece, the brand chose to keep this historic logo.
On the contrary to the vintage 1533 watch and its hand-wound Valjoux-based movement, the re-edition is equipped with a much more modern engine, the brand’s new in-house, integrated automatic flyback chronograph movement – which we explained in detail in this technical article. This movement, inaugurated in Code 11.59, is a state-of-the-art modern chronograph with all the latest technical solutions. The large 32mm diameter Calibre 4409, features a column wheel and vertical clutch, the latter enabling precise starts and stops. Specific to this movement are the three twin hammers and hammer springs. The hammers are responsible for resetting the hands. The three hammer springs are almost identical and positioned one next to the other. Not only is the function smooth and complete but it is really cool to see these in action one next to the other, which is superbly highlighted by the architecture of the movement.
Also important to note is that Calibre 4409 is a flyback chronograph, which means it can be returned to zero and restarted instantly with a single push of the button. The power reserve is very comfortable, at 70 hours, and the movement runs at a modern frequency – 28,800 vibrations/hours or 4Hz. The decoration includes straight and circular satin brushing, Geneva stripes and perlage – on both sides of the bridges, even in the hidden areas. The bridges feature large chamfers, perfectly diamond polished. Engravings are gold toned. The 22K gold rotor is decorated with a guilloché pattern.
The Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph is worn on a light brown, hand-stitched calf leather strap with a steel pin buckle. A brown alligator strap is also included.
Price and availability
The Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph (ref. 26595SR-OO-A032VE-01) will be limited to 500 pieces and priced at CHF 49,500 (before taxes).