The Code 11.59 col­lec­tion is an ex­er­cise in sub­tlety, and ex­presses a dif­fer­ent side of Aude­mars Piguet

Singapore Tatler Jewels & Time - - CONTENTS - Text Nicolette Wong

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.

MIS­SION POS­SI­BLE Will Aude­mars Piguet be able to court a new au­di­ence with the in­ter­est­ing Code 11.59 col­lec­tion that some­how goes against the brand’s usual sporty and bold aes­thet­ics? Only time will tell

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