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Why I Don’t Understand The Hate For The Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet Anymore

It is time to move on, and to look at the latest models with objectivity.

| By Robin Nooy | 5 min read |

What do you do when you want to launch a new collection alongside a truly legendary range that once redefined what luxury watchmaking was? Do you tweak a design and pray it doesn’t get any banter because it looks too much like your precious icon? Or take off in a completely different direction altogether, to find new inspiration and break new grounds in terms of design? Either way, it’s a tough thing to do for sure, but Audemars Piguet took the gamble in 2019 when they introduced the Code 11.59 collection. Hugely different from the famous Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore, but somehow it didn’t capture the heart of collectors and enthusiasts. Was it really that bad? And is it still to this day, that bad? No, it wasn’t back then, and even less these days, which watches like the Code 11.59 Universelle have clearly proven. Through clever use of design, materials, colours and by now extremely complicated movements, the Code 11.59 has seriously matured. But somehow, it still gets quite a lot of hate online. Why is that? And is it justified? The short answer is no, but allow me to go a little deeper into why some prejudices towards this watch are just ridiculous and should end.

Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Starwheel 15212NB

the online demeanour

Now, before I dive a little deeper into what I think about the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59, I want to get something else off my chest. It feels to me that the Code 11.59 is singled out and victimised, making it painfully obvious how negative the online demeanour of some people is. Instead of objectively looking at the Code 11.59, it gets ridiculed and bashed left, right and centre from day 1. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that the loud minority pushes aside the silent vast majority, but still. It just baffles me. Luckily though, I feel the perception of the Code 11.59 is slowly changing and to me, it’s well deserved! And let me explain why I feel that way.

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A shaky start

Admittedly, the start of the Code 11.59 was perhaps a bit so-so. It was hyped up as the next best thing since sliced bread, but in fact, it wasn’t. The somewhat generic dials took away most of the lustre of the objectively cool and brilliantly finished case construction. As such, people made a huge effort to explain why this was never going to be an iconic collection. It was boring, it was too simple, it lacked personality, etc…

The time-and-date Code 11.59 launched in 2019; maybe too generic, too bland.

By now though, Audemars Piguet has turned the Code 11.59 around from what it was once perceived to be, into something that deserves our attention for many reasons. It’s far from boring if you look at it closely, with a complex and fascinating case design, and attention to detail and decoration that is rarely seen. It’s also not that simple anymore, as we’ve literally seen an array of innovative and complex models come forth. Heck, it’s even spawned the most complex AP in history! The brand made it clear from day 1; the Code 11.59 was the collection to house all of Audemars’ expertise in Haute Horlogerie and advanced mechanics. Minute repeater, perpetual calendar, grande sonnerie, tourbillon chronograph and now a watch with no fewer than 23 complications. It was even used to bring back the emblematic StarWheel concept.

And about that lack of a personality that was once the main issue of the collection – mostly the dials of the time-and-date models – there’s no doubt to me that AP has addressed this problem. It gets boatloads of character from the range of interesting and contrasting colours and materials, or details such as the intricate new dials in the steel models. And speaking of the steel models, have you noticed the subtle differences between these, and the ones in precious metal? Have you seen how they have different markers and hands, a new date window, and a different inner flange? I bet most haven’t, especially the nay-sayers.

Stainless Steel Code 11.59 Audemars Piguet Chronograph
The stainless steel Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Chronograph.

Blinded by the Royal Oak, but it shouldn’t

Whenever we share a story on any of the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet, one nonsensical comment is sure to pop up; “it’s not a Royal Oak.” Or something else along these lines, you get the idea. But think about this for a change. Before the Code 11.59 was introduced, we (the watch community as a whole, us included) were complaining that Audemars was a one-trick pony. There’s now a seriously impressive collection alongside the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore, and people are simply ridiculing the brand saying the Code 11.59 fails to even stand in the shadows of the Royal Oak. To me, that’s just plain daft!

I’d say it’s time we embrace the Code 11.59 for what it is, a strong and very intriguing collection of mechanical watches! It’s time to look at the latest iterations with an open mind, without prejudice or negativity. It’s time to objectively weigh up the pros and cons, or even better, check it out in person, before passing judgement and spewing negativity around. If in the end, you don’t like it, that’s all fine. But there’s absolutely no need to trash it because you don’t feel a connection with it. And most often, not having seen the watch once in the metal…

Live, and let live, I’d say. Who’s with me?

17 responses

  1. I find it is good that they released this, they have so much history, otherwise they would become a one trick pony with just Royal Oaks in their collection.
    PP is also not just the Nautilus.
    Heck AP has such a rich history, i would not mind vintage copycats for that matter.

  2. The original handset was lame: boring skinny stick hands. The newer half-skeletonized baton hands are better, but still not my favorite. The case is complex and robotic, and the original dial was sparse and midcentury which was a strange mismatch. The newer dials with the dense ripple pattern make me dizzy, and I’m still not sure that they match the style of the case.

  3. Interesting take on the 11.59. Quite frankly, I come down on the opposite side of this argument. I happen to like the simple, three handed with date version. I don’t consider those iterations as a problem. I’m more disinclined with the new versions where I find the dial cluttered with distraction.

  4. That date at 4.30 proves that all involved in creating this watch they have complete ignorance of geometry and symmetry and they also ignore a good number of possible clients who wear their watch on the right hand. Prove me wrong !!! Thank you

  5. After AP have now definitely corrected the initial design mishaps of the Code 11.59 by very substantially improving – and even perfecting – the dial texture, hands, indexes, date window and inner flange, they can now start thinking about adding a steel and/or gold bracelet that would nicely match the case shape and design. If they get the bracelet right, they might be looking at another modern icon in addition to their Royal Oak! In any case, this evolved Code 11.59 “2.0“ has now set them on a good trajectory of now having finally developed a “house style” of design that Vacheron and Patek still have not found (outside of their integrated sports watches). AP are doing a of things right at the moment and I am truly happy for them! It’s also time for them to upgrade their movement finishing on their sub-60k offerings as the mechanically executed finishing is simply not worthy of a “Holy Trinity” maison.

  6. The case is ok, although a bit chunky.
    Some dials are nice.
    I have no doubt the crystal is wonderful.
    The launch dials, 3 hander’s numerals and minutes ring, however, still look insultingly cheap to me in pictures.

  7. The case construction is clever and complex and no doubt the finishing is top notch as well.
    The problem, I feel, is the case design itself – slightly chunky, and generic-looking front on.
    Definitely not elegant imho.
    And elegance is probably what AP needs in a new collection that both pays tribute to their legacy and acts as a foil for the RO.

  8. I’m with you on don’t hate the code 11.59, what their slogan is to break the rules you must master em. so, only the eyes of master will understand this classic-not-so-classic pieces.

  9. Set aside the aesthetics of the design for a moment, the sales tactics is to be blamed. Since the unveiling of the code 11.59, intentionally or not, it has been treated like the Tuxxx of the Rolxx as a token for AP’s customers to build up their status for getting ahead in the waiting line for their dream watch, I.e. RO. Just wonder the percentage of CODE 11.59 buyers thus far, how many of them are true lovers vs. reluctant buyer?Who’s to blame?

  10. If there’s anything to “hate”, as it were, it’s the fact that AP has joined in the practice of avaricious pricing to the point of charging over $25,000 for a stainless steel, three handed with date version of the 11.59. It’s outrageous! Pricing for the wealthy to create the illusion of exclusivity so AP can stuff their pockets for the least amount of work as possible. This is the marketing strategy. Even with its mechanical finishing, this watch is worth no more than $15,000, at the most. Oh, and by the way, even though it’s not available in AP boutiques yet, you still are required to make an appointment to be seen. Yes, that’s right, you need to make an appointment to be seen for a watch they don’t have. Talk about arrogance! What a racket.

  11. This watch still has issues mainly that it tries to be a dress watch but looks like a sports watch. So you get a sporty watch with only 30m water resistance, stamped guilloche dial, and propositions that don’t make sense for a dress watch in 2023 and put the AP tax on it to boot. If you pay attention to the marketing for these AP is going after the younger crowd. These sell to move you up the funnel to a royal oak

  12. Sorry man. In my book, the APRO is ugly. The APRO Deap Sea, or pardon me, Off Shore is uglier, and the 12:59 is also uglier. There is just not a single AP watch that means anything to me, but the APRO might be the nicest thing they make. In fact, nothing the big three make can hold a candle to a simple A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin or a Breguet Classique.

    People keep hyping AP’s watches, but I feel no more than “meh”. In short: I’m afraid I can’t be with you. That said: Hating watches just seems a silly waste of energy. That would be over the top: To each his own.

    But I would not wear an AP if it was sent to me for free. It is a far cry from a Credor Eichi II.

  13. Just a ticket to buy a Royal Oak . Chunky metal on wrist. Next please

  14. I think the mistake is not the watch, which I for one have liked from day one, but the way they launched it. FHB wanted a big impressive launch, he wanted to tout AP’s ability to roll out three new movements and an entire new line all at the same time. But that caused a broad entirely new offering to fall onto promises that had been made purely by the marketing and PR department in the hopes of generating broad appreciation in the public. Instead, they should have released the more complex ones step by step, establishing them as these unobtainable amazing things and getting people used to the line. Then after a few years, they could have launched even the simple three handers they did initially and folks would have gone as crazy as they did when Rolex released the steel Sky Dweller, by virtue of finally being able to afford a version of that amazing out of reach thing that had been dangled before their noses for about 5 years. This opportunity was missed, and so AP will now have to do it the hard way, over time. But the substance is there, and if they carry over the changes from the new steel models into the gold collection, I am quite confident they will eventually overcome the image damage they did by botching the marketing strategy in the beginning. I for one remain convinced by this watch and actually bought one just a few days ago.

  15. I own this watch as well in Burgundy and it is by far my favorite in a collection of other fine watches. Personally, I think the Patek Aquanaut and AP RO are hideous and not worthy of the hype. Keep hating the Code 11.59. I was able to get a pre owned for a hefty discount.

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