To Challenge, Own, Dare and Evolve, before the start of a new day. And, some updates to the evergreen.
One of the most-discussed topics post-SIHH 2019 is undoubtedly Audemars Piguet’s new collection presentation in Geneva. Also one of the biggest surprises at this year’s SIHH, the independent watchmaking maison chose to debut an entirely new collection for its final year of participation at the fair.
A controversial new collection to be admired up-close
Pre-SIHH, Audemars Piguet released some official press images of the soon-to-be-launched collection. They were definitely not what most people were expecting; “Have you seen the new AP watch?” was consequently a question that was buzzing throughout the fair.
With more than 5 years of planning, research and development, this collection is to be the brand’s biggest product launch since 1972 (the year the iconic Royal Oak was born).
13 references, 6 models and 3 new calibres make up the debut offerings from CODE 11.59 (CODE being acronym for Challenge, Own, Dare and Evolve). And 11.59, defined by CEO François-Henry Bennahmias as ‘the minute before a new day’, to represent how Audemars Piguet always strives to be ahead of the game.
Press reviews of the CODE 11.59 collection have been divided. It is controversial, or should I say there is more than meets the eye. Undeniably, examining the watches up-close made all the difference. The collection most certainly speaks a completely different design language than the rest of its siblings in the Audemars Piguet family.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the CODE 11.59 watch design, is its double-curve sapphire crystal. Rimming the watch is a very thin bezel, the surface of the crystal is curved from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock, while its underside is slightly domed. The result? A literally crystal-clear dial that is legible from all angles.
The case architecture is interestingly unique too. Optically at first glance, the case appears round, but the case-band profile is that of an octagon of both mirror and satin-brushed finishing. The lugs are only attached to the case from the bezel, the construction reminding me somewhat of a tension ring.
The Audemars Piguet logo was also given an update through the usage galvanic growth technique, where thin layers of 24K gold are built-up using a chemical process. Notably, this marks the first time the technique is applied with 24K gold. Each letter of the raised logo is connected by a link as thin as a strand of hair. Dials are in solid colours, made of either lacquer, enamel or aventurine glass.
The key highlights of CODE 11.59 that watch aficionados would want to pay attention to, are the 3 new calibres specially designed for this collection.
Headlining the movement conversation is the brand’s first in-house automatic chronograph movement, Calibre 4401. A fully integrated, self-winding flyback column wheel chronograph movement with a vertical clutch, it offers 70 hours of power reserve and an instantaneous jumping date. This movement took Audemars Piguet at least 5 years to create, and you can enjoy the beauty of it all through the openworked gold rotor.
The second being Calibre 2950, an automatic flying tourbillon movement with a central rotor and 65-hour power reserve. And the third, Calibre 4302, a self-winding time-date movement with a 70-hour power reserve. All 3 movements are beautifully and meticulously finished.
The Code 11.59 collection also presented an Openworked Tourbillon, a Perpetual Calendar model with an aventurine dial and a Supersonnerie minute repeater, all equipped with existing in-house movements.
Beautiful updates to the Royal Oak family
For brand loyalists who are not ready for Code 11.59, there is comfort in a selection of new Royal Oaks being presented during the fair. Two favourites:
The new Royal Oak Self-winding 41mm (ref. 15500)
The model was given significant updates:
- the date window is moved closer to the edge of the dial;
- luminous hour indexes are slightly wider, with white minute markers printed on the periphery of the dial, outside the textured Grand Tapisserie pattern.
- this updated version also houses a new in-house movement: Calibre 4302 which is also used in the Code 11.59 Self-winding model.
This new Royal Oak Self-winding 41mm (reference 15500) will replace all the older versions, and released in 5 variations including a steel version with either blue, grey or black dial; or a pink gold version with a black dial on gold bracelet or leather straps.
The Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ Extra Thin with a Salmon Dial (ref. 15202BC)
Salmon-dials first appeared in the Royal Oak family in 1992, on the limited edition Royal Oak Jubilee. This year’s version is made special, by both the dial colour and the distinctive white gold case and bracelet. Apart from the fact that white gold is hardly used for Royal Oak models, this dial-case colour combination is extremely rare. That said, I wouldn’t exactly describe the dial colour as ‘salmon’, in fact it is of a more yellowish shade of the usual salmon hue we are familiar with. On close examination, the tiny date disc is probably of a more ‘accurate’ tone of salmon.
Regardless, this is a handsome and elegant watch that has received many good reviews thus far. 75 pieces will be produced annually from 2019, and available exclusively at Audemar Piguet boutiques.
Images courtesy of Audemars Piguet, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.