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AP Goes Ultra-Complication With The Code 11.59 Universelle And Its 23 Complications

AP has packed everything it could into the new Calibre 1000, with 40 functions, 23 complications, a surprisingly compact case size, and a price to match the feat.

| By Brice Goulard | 8 min read |
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication RD4 - AP's most complicated wristwatch

The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime and the Reference 6300, the Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4, the Vacheron Constantin Celestia or the Superbia Humanitatis by Piguet/Muller/Gerber… Many watches have claimed the title of the most complicated wristwatch, and all were undoubtedly wonders of miniaturisation and exceptional horological developments. Audemars Piguet is familiar with the concept, with multiple Grande Complication wristwatches in the collection. Today, the brand goes much further with the Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication, also known as RD#4. Equipped with 23 complications, 40 functions, a new Calibre 1000 with no fewer than 1,155 parts… All served up in a surprisingly reasonable 42mm case size and a price to match the feat. Meet AP’s most complex wristwatch to date. 

The name of this new watch, the Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication, pays tribute to a historically important model for the brand, the L’Universelle pocket watch, one of the most complicated watches ever crafted by the manufacture, with 19 classic complications, including a Grande Sonnerie Carillon, a perpetual calendar, a split- seconds, jumping-second and deadbeat-second chronograph. It sits right there, on the top rung with the 1933 Patek Henry Graves Supercomplication, the 1802 Breguet Marie Antoinette or the 2019 Vacheron Constantin 57260. Audemars Piguet is no stranger to building hyper-complicated movements, and this year’s new Code 11.59 Universelle brings back the concept in the shape of a wristwatch packed with technology.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication RD4

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The project of the Universelle and its Calibre 1000 started in 2016 with “the goal of developing a highly complicated wristwatch fit for everyday use that would strike the right balance between complexity, ergonomics and aesthetics“. As part of the RD collection, it incorporates some elements of the three previous watches: the Supersonnerie of the RD#1, the ultra-thin perpetual calendar of the RD#2 and the oscillator with increased amplitude premiered on the RD#3. Seven years later, the new Calibre 1000 sees the light of day in the Code 11.59 Universelle, a contemporary take on the ultra-complicated wristwatch with 23 complications (as always, the complication count must be taken with precaution) and a surprisingly ergonomic and user-friendly approach.

The Complications of the Code 11.59 Universelle

With the launch of this new Ultra-Complication model, Audemars Piguet announces a total of 23 complications, 40 functions and 17 technical devices… Here’s the list of all 23 complications, at least according to what Audemars deems a complication:

  • Chronograph
  • Split-seconds
  • Minutes counter (semi-instantaneous)
  • Hours counter (dragging)
  • Flyback function
  • Minute repeater (by pressing a pusher)
  • Grande Sonnerie (mode)
  • Petite Sonnerie (mode)
  • Silence (mode)
  • Quarters silence (regularisation of the silence between the hours and minutes)
  • Locking of automatic and manual activation when the barrel is insufficiently wound
  • Automatic winding of the Grande Sonnerie barrel Supersonnerie
  • Perpetual Calendar
  • Date Display
  • Day display (by discs or aperture)
  • Month display (by discs or aperture)
  • Moon phase display
  • Year display
  • Semi-Gregorian (automatic calendar until 2400)
  • Accurate astronomical moon
  • Tourbillon
  • Automatic winding

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication RD4 - calibre 1000

Quick note. These complication counts are always rather debatable. I personally have a problem naming an automatic winding or a minutes counter a complication. Is the “23” number claimed by AP relevant? No, it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that the manufacture has managed to fit a Grande Sonnerie, a minute repeater, a perpetual calendar, a split-seconds flyback chronograph and a flying tourbillon (making it, by definition, a Grande Complication in the strict sense of the term) into a watch that is barely larger than its classic automatic chronograph: the Code 11.59 Selfwinding Chronograph is 41mm in diameter, this new Code 11.59 Universelle is 42mm. It is a feat of engineering, miniaturisation and fine watchmaking tradition. As far as the numbers go… I don’t really care.

Familiar Code 11.59 design

Before we move to the technical details, let’s talk about design. The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle is a member of the brand’s latest collection, and it reminds us that, from the beginning, AP said that the Code 11.59 would become its vessel for all sorts of complications. The case has all the familiar traits of the collection, with the openworked lugs, the double-curved top surface and its complex crystal, the slim bezel and the octagonal case middle that creates the connection with AP’s star watch, the Royal Oak. As you’d expect, the case is far more complex due to countless pushers and crowns, all fairly well integrated.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication RD4 - AP's most complicated wristwatch

The left side features a pusher to start the minute repeater and two correctors for the moon and day indications. Three crowns on the right side with coaxial pushers allow the wearer to wind the watch, set the time and date with the central crown and select the chiming mode (Grande Sonnerie, Petite Sonnerie or silence mode). The flyback chronograph can be started and stopped with the supercrown at 2 o’clock and reset with the other supercrown at 4 o’clock. The 4 o’clock crown also corrects the month in sync with the year.

As for the looks, the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication is released in four different editions. All share the same 42mm x 15.5mm case (which is not ultra-thin, of course, but no thicker than many Valjoux-based chronographs… and now it is impressive), available either in 18k white or pink gold. The three white gold models either have a closed black dial with silver contrast, a closed beige dial with black contrast and gold accents or an openworked dial with a rhodium-plated movement and black/grey counters. The pink gold model is also openworked and features a tone-on-tone movement with black and grey counters and background. All are worn on a black alligator strap with a folding clasp, with an additional black textured rubber-coated calfskin strap also included.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication RD4

The functions of the Calibre 1000

As explained, the movement comprises multiple complications and functions. Starting with a series of chiming functions combined with the brand’s patented Supersonnerie technology – a series of innovations that enhance the loudness, richness, musicality and clarity of the sound produced by the chimes. The Calibre 1000 is equipped with a Grande Sonnerie, striking the hours and every quarter hour by passing. In the Petite Sonnerie position, the watch chimes the hours only, while the automatic chiming is deactivated in the silent mode. Additionally, the wearer can activate the minute repeater mechanism at any time via the dedicated push-piece located at 10 o’clock. The functions are fed by a dedicated barrel wound by the wrist’s movement, alternately with the main barrel.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication RD4 - AP's most complicated wristwatch

The back of the watch not only displays the classic resonance chamber of the Supersonnerie technology but it has been updated so the wearer can now see the Calibre 1000. It comes with a “secret” extra-thin cover and a new soundboard, just 0.6 mm thick, entirely crafted in sapphire crystal, on which the gongs are mounted. And it is now hinged and can be opened thanks to a discreet lever located just under the crown.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication RD4 - AP's most complex wristwatch

Next comes the calendar functions, with a semi-Gregorian perpetual calendar mechanism. In order to save space, it uses the single-layer technology of the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin (a.k.a the RD#2). However, to bring more clarity to the display, the Code 11.59 Universelle relies on discs and apertures to indicate the calendar data. Calendar indications have been dissociated from the chronograph counters, and the date is now indicated by a two-disc module at 12 o’clock. Finally, the Calibre 1000 is more advanced than traditional perpetual calendars, as it takes into account the 100-year correction normally required in traditional Gregorian perpetual calendars. No manual adjustment is, therefore, required before the year 2400. Finally, it includes an instant-jump astronomical moon with two concentric discs.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication RD4

Then we move to the chronograph functions. The Calibre 1000 in the Code 11.59 Universelle is equipped with a split-seconds flyback chronograph. The flyback chronograph allows you to reset and restart the chronograph with a single touch of the pusher at 4 o’clock, while the split-seconds mechanism measures intermediate time intervals thanks to the dedicated push-piece into the crown at 3 o’clock. Controlled by column wheels, the chronograph mechanism has been remodelled to save space, with the split-seconds mechanism integrated into the centre of the rotor’s ball bearing – while usually superposed, thus saving more than 1 millimetre.

Finally, the movement is regulated by a flying tourbillon – not a requirement in a Grande Complication watch, but another feat to be added to the list. The one-minute tourbillon is held in place on one side only (flying architecture) and features a new oscillator with increased amplitude (found in RD#3)

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Universelle Ultra-Complication RD4 - calibre 1000

The movement itself is composed of no fewer than 1,140 components and measures 34.3mm x 8.8mm. A large and thick movement, but considering the number of parts, it is surely impressive, and reveals the work of miniaturisation done by the brand’s R&D team. The movement is automatic, which is rare in Grande Complications, and stores a comfortable 60h power reserve, depending on whether the functions are activated or not. The tourbillon beats at a classic pace of 3Hz. And, as you’d expect, the movement is finished and decorated with traditional Haute Horlogerie flourishes.

Availability & Price

The four editions of the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle presented here will be produced in very low numbers. The price is announced upon request, but it is expected to be around CHF 1,600,000 (excl. taxes). A heavy price, but we’re talking heavy watchmaking too.

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4 responses

  1. A complicated timepiece for sure. If I was AP, I would make sure I could tell the time first and foremost. IMO, putting the date or any other indication at 12 is a mistake. It just draws attention away from time telling. Same goes for that PP alarm watch. This AP is just not much to look at – all of the good stuff is under the dial (and their video promoting the timepiece is purely unrealistic).

  2. Imagine forgetting to wear it for a couple days and you have to reset everything. Then again if you can afford this watch just get the butler’s to do it.


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