Audemars Piguet has learned a lesson or two since the launch of Code 11.59 in 2019 and repeats the success story of its 2020 models with gorgeous smoked dials. Although the smoked blue dials appeared in 2020 inside pink gold cases, this is the first time this smoked blue sunburst lacquered dial is married to a white gold case. Available in automatic time-and-date and chronograph versions with identical tech specs to former editions, the combination of white gold and intense gradient blue is gorgeous.
Audemars Piguet has a history of provoking extreme reactions, starting with the 1972 Royal Oak, continuing with the high-testosterone 1993 Royal Oak Offshore and then in 2019, Code 11.59. However, once the dust had settled and aficionados had time to digest the novel proposal of the Royal Oak and its beefy brother, the ROO, the models would soon become some of the most coveted watches on the market. Having basically relied on the Royal Oak – and its offshoots – as its leading product since 1972, AP decided it needed to strike out in a new direction and come up with a brand-new line of watches. The result was Code 11.59, a bold move marking the brand’s biggest product and movement launch in 20 years. The Code 11.59 has been around for three years and, like its RO siblings, gaining traction and admirers by the day. Last year, the chronograph and automatic time-and-date models of the Code 11.59 collection added some much-needed pizzazz with beautiful smoked sunburst lacquered dials in vivid colours and two-tone cases.
The Complex Case of Code 11.59
The complex architecture of the Code 11.59 case, with its octagonal middle case sandwiched between a thin bezel and round caseback, is home to both white gold models. The most salient feature of the 41mm case is the octagonal central container that pays homage to the iconic octagonal bezel of the Royal Oak. Viewed from the side, you can how the floating lugs are hollowed and welded to the bezel module. Impeccably crafted, the surfaces of the case display satin-brushed, chamfered and polished finishings.
From Ocean Blue to pitch black
Gradient dials, also known as fumé or smoked dials, are all the rage these days, with lighter colour saturation in the centre of the dial intensifying to a darker shade on the periphery. The blue chosen for the dials changes from a light sky-blue colour in the centre to an almost blue-black tone on the inner bezel (the 60-minute track on the time-and-date and the tachymetre scale on the chronograph.) Furthermore, the smoked blue lacquer – obtained with up to eight layers of glossy lacquer and polished to a high shine – is enhanced with a refined sunburst finishing on its base, provoking ever-changing plays of light, like sun rays seen from under the water.
The execution of the 18k white gold polished baton hands and rounded and applied gold hour markers, and Arabic numerals is exquisite. Continuing with the Midas touch, the AP signature on the dial is also gold but made using a chemical process known as galvanic growth. Like a 3D printer, the process stacks layer after layer of 24k white gold to create the miniature letters. Connected with links no thicker than the width of a human hair, the letters are applied to the dial by hand and fixed with tiny feet.
Like everything about Code 11.59, the devil is in the details. Protecting the beautiful dial is a double glare-proofed sapphire crystal that is shaped like a dome on the underside and vertically curved on the external surface from 6 to 12 o’clock. This complex double curvature provides a unique visual experience and even has a polished chamfer.
While the combination of case metal and dial colour is new, there is no evolution regarding the movements. Remember that Code 11.59 was also a milestone for AP in watchmaking terms heralding brand new in-house movements, especially the long-awaited integrated chronograph calibre 4401 with column wheel and flyback function.
The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding time-and-date is powered by the calibre 4302, an automatic movement with a large 32mm diameter. It includes modern solutions like the transversal balance bridges and traditional decoration with polished bevels and Geneva stripes.
Quick facts: 41mm x 10.7mm white gold case – water-resistant to 30m – smoked blue lacquered dial with sunburst finishing – self-winding calibre 4302 – hours, minutes, seconds and date – black rubber-coated strap and white gold pin buckle – ref. 15210BC.OO.A002KB.01 – EUR 30,400
The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding Chronograph is powered by the calibre 4401, an integrated chronograph movement with a vertical clutch and column wheel. This movement, as we described in detail here, is a state-of-the-art modern chronograph. It is very pleasant in terms of layout and decoration, as well as powerful with a 70-hour power reserve. Both calibres have a dedicated 22k pink gold openworked rotor and a sapphire caseback to admire the finishings.
Quick facts: 41mm x 12.6mm white gold – water-resistant to 30m – smoked blue lacquered dial with sunburst finishing – self-winding calibre 4302 – flyback chronograph, hours, minutes, small seconds and date – black rubber-coated strap and white gold pin buckle – ref. 26393BC.OO.A002KB.01 – EUR 48,000
More information at Audemars Piguet.