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The Code 11.59 collection is an exercise in subtlety, and expresses a different side of Audemars Piguet
The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 collection is a work of subtlety
Audemars Piguet is one of the few luxury watch brands that enjoy widespread popularity, counting its admirers among horology connoisseurs and neophytes alike. This is in a large part due to its flagship watch—the Royal Oak— being an icon that has become one of the most sought-after timepieces today, resulting in an exceedingly long waiting list. But, as with all successes, there’s bound to be some form of compromise—for Audemars Piguet, this gigantic hit has inevitably overshadowed its other lines of watches, which are certainly just as meritorious even though they may be less recognisable. This was the situation that Audemars Piguet faced when it began to create its new Code 11.59 watch a few years back.
At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) this year, the Code 11.59 was indisputably the subject on
everyone’s lips—but, not all the comments were flattering. Many were underwhelmed by the initial images of the watch, and felt that it did not represent the bold, dynamic Audemars Piguet that most people knew. As the watch fair progressed, however, sentiments began to change. Insiders who got to see the watch in the metal were surprised by its quiet elegance. Unlike Audemars Piguet’s hit icons, the Code 11.59 is an exercise in subtlety—bearing details that truly make the watch shine on a closer look.
The case, for instance, is a beauty to behold. The watch is round when viewed from its front or back, but tilt it a little, and it is immediately clear that the profile of the case is octagonal. Formed via bevelling, as well as alternating brushed and polished finishes, these “facets” go all round the perimeter of the case, framing a curved bezel and sapphire crystal that give the watch a unique shape. And while the V-shaped lugs may seem conventional at first, viewing the watch from its side will reveal that they are in fact only attached to the case’s bezel. The lower parts of the lugs rest against the caseback and are not actually attached, making them look as if they are suspended in air—an illusion that gives the watch a modern edge.
That attention to detail also extends to the dial details. Take, for instance, the Audemars Piguet logo, which is usually printed. Instead, it is rendered in three-dimensional 24K gold. To create the tiny hour indices, Audemars Piguet employed galvanic growth, a new chemical process that allows the numerals to be 3D-printed, using layers of gold with micrometric precision. Although the technology has been used on metals used in movement parts, this is the first time it is utilised for 24K gold. Each sharp-edged numeral is then applied carefully by hand. The final touch is seen in the glare-proof, double-curved sapphire glass. The internal surface of the glass is shaped like a dome, while the external surface is vertically curved from 6 to 12 o’clock. This double curve acts as a form of optical lensing.
There are six models in the Code 11.59 collection. Each of these pieces is equipped with one of six in-house calibres, of which three are completely new: a self-winding integrated column wheel flyback chronograph (significant because it is Audemars Piguet’s first-ever integrated chronograph movement); a self-winding calibre with date and small seconds indications; and a self-winding flying tourbillon.
The other three models include a perpetual calendar, an openworked tourbillon, and a minute repeater supersonnerie.
Truth be told, it is unlikely that the Code 11.59 will be the watch of choice for someone who likes the Royal
Oak or Royal Oak Offshore, or any other timepiece with an immediately impressive presence. In choosing to create a round watch with elegant and subtle detailing, Audemars Piguet is probably seeking out a new audience that would appreciate a more minimal aesthetic. Whether the Code 11.59 will succeed or not remains to be seen, but it has certainly broken a significant barrier by representing an interesting development of the Audemars Piguet brand identity.
Insiders who got to see the Code 11.59 watches in the metal were surprised by its quiet elegance.