The company’s CEO François-Henry Bennahmias called it “the biggest launch since 1972”, when Audemars Piguet presented the first Royal Oak.
The importance of the presentation of the new CODE 11.59 collection by Audemars Piguet, the ‘big news’ of SIHH 2019, is quite evident. Today strongly associated with its iconic product, the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore, the brand clearly aims to break away from this single-product business model and create a new pillar in its portfolio.
Unveiled with a major event in Le Brassus last Saturday, just before the start of SIHH, and already strongly discussed, the CODE 11.59 will complement the Royal Oak, Offshore and Millenary collections. The line, result of more than half a decade of research and development of movements – there are three totally new calibers -, design of the case and dial and strategic decisions, consists of 13 references across 6 models.
The name chosen for the collection, CODE 11.59 by Audemars Piguet, is also an acronym to describe the timepiece:
The CODE 11.59 has a contemporary design, “consciously thought for both men and women”. The most distinctive element is certainly the case.
At first glance, and in the photographs of the product published in the media, it looks round with a thin bezel, but in fact it is a set of juxtaposed geometries. The octagon, an essential part of the brand’s DNA, has been embedded in the middle case. The lugs are openworked and welded to the bezel and not to the central container. The double curved, domed, glare-proof sapphire crystal looks like an extension of the case. The finishing of the case is also impressive, with alternating brushed and polished surfaces.
All models are available in a diameter of 41 mm, a rather versatile size that fits most wrists.
The ultra-thin bezel is designed to highlight the details on the lacquered dial. The raised Audemars Piguet logo is particularly complex to craft by hand: made of thin layers of gold, it is achieved through a chemical process akin to 3-D printing known as galvanic growth. Each letter is connected with links approximately the size of a hair and placed by hand on the dial with tiny legs almost invisible to the eye.
Looking at each of the six models, the CODE 11.59 Self-winding is the purest expression of this new concept, highlighting the elaborate construction of the case. The transparent caseback reveals a new self-winding movement, the calibre 4302 with hour, minute, second and date functions, water-resistant to 30 m. The model is available in 18-carat pink gold (with white or black lacquered dial) or 18-carat white gold (with blue or black lacquered dial) at a price of €27,700.
Long awaited, the in-house integrated Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 Chronograph features a modern, high-performance construction with column-wheel and vertical clutch. With a frequency of 4 Hz and up to 70 hours of power reserve, this self-winding 4401 calibre with flyback function is finished with straight and circular satin finish, Cotes de Genève and perlage. The bridges feature diamond polished chamfers. The 22k gold rotor is openworked with the AP logo, which offers a superb view of the mechanism. The chrono is available in 18-carat pink gold or 18-carat white gold, with a black or blue lacquered dial, alligator strap and pin buckle at a price of €43,800.
Powered by the self-winding 5134 calibre with perpetual calendar, moon phases, hours and minutes, the CODE 11.59 Perpetual Calendar in pink gold features a fascinating dark blue aventurine dial reminiscent of a starry sky. Water-resistant to 20 m, it has a price of 77,000€.
The self-winding Tourbillon CODE 11.59 houses the 2950 calibre, the third new movement in the line. It is a finely hand-finished, self-winding flying tourbillon. The dial is in Grand Feu enamel, the case in white or pink gold (CHF 129,000).
The collection also includes an Openworked Tourbillon, with a hand-wound 2948 calibre finished with a contemporary touch with dark bridges and plate and a pink gold case (CHF 175,000).
Finally, the CODE 11.59 Supersonnerie incorporates a complication, the minute repeater, successfully introduced a few years ago by Audemars Piguet. This wristwatch has the sound power of a pocket watch, thanks to its acoustic performance obtained with patented gongs that are not attached to the main plate, but to a new device acting as a soundboard and improving the efficiency of sound transmission. The striking regulator eliminates unwanted noise thanks to its more flexible anchor system. The dial is in smoky blue enamel, the case in white gold and the hand-wound calibre (CHF 295,000).
Although controversial in terms of feedback, this launch represents an important step for AP, that we believe demonstrated great mastery in case design, movement manufacture and attention to detail. Creating an icon is a very complicated mission: certainly in 1972 many people criticised the Royal Oak – which has since become a universal and lasting success. Only time will tell whether the CODE 11.59 will be able to match its great predecessor.
By Valeria Garavaglia