Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 Tourbillon SelfwindingSeptember 26, 2022
Audemars Piguet just announced three new variations of the Code 11.59 collection, demonstrating the Swiss watchmaker’s dedication to the line as it celebrates the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary. The three different just-released Code 11.59 watches all iterate aesthetically on existing Code 11.59 models in dramatically different ways.
The new Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked features a blue ceramic case that’s encompassed by an 18-karat white gold bezel, lugs
and caseback. The movement inside is the hand-wound openworked tourbillon-equipped caliber 2948, which has been comprehensively decorated in numerous shades of blue through a chemical process known as Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). It’s surrounded by an interior rehaut that’s been blued through chemical vapor deposition (CVD, rather than PVD), while the long, thin handset is made of solid 18-karat pink gold and the balance wheel is executed in a matching gold tone.
The architecture of the caliber 2948, newly executed in the bright blue hue, is completely unique and almost irresistible in its boldness. The movement measures just 3.65mm in height, which means the impressive sense of three-dimensionality the movement conveys is almost magical.
Slightly less complicated but just as visually compelling is the new Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon with a black ceramic central case, an 18-karat white gold bezel and lugs, and a rich dark dial made of solid black onyx. The big news on this model, for those who have followed the 11.59 series since its 2019 debut, is that AP decided to kill off the applied hour markers on the dial, allowing the stone dial material to move to center stage.
AP worked with the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based dial maker Someco to carve the dial out of a single black onyx stone. The dial is first cut into a thin disc, ground, sanded, and polished before ending up in the two-tone case. Each dial is naturally unique, which means that there is potentially endless room for aesthetic variation. The Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon with a black onyx dial is not a limited edition release.
Finally, the most complicated release of the day, the new Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph, is focused almost entirely on executing a comprehensive two-tone design. Featuring a combination of black ceramic and 18-karat pink gold throughout the case and (almost nonexistent) dial, the new hybrid chronograph-tourbillon watch is really, more than anything, a showcase for the powerhouse movement inside.
Opting for Audemars Piguet caliber 2952, the watch features two of the most complicated creations out there – a flying tourbillon and a flyback chronograph. The overall movement architecture features highly openworked bridges in both black and pink-gold tones, with AP’s watchmakers noting specifically that a total of 111 V-angles on the movement were sandblasted, satin-finished, and polished by hand. The entire decoration is said to have taken over 70 total hours of work to complete.
The original batch of six Code 11.59 models released by Audemars Piguet on the eve of SIHH 2019 was a touch too baroque for my personal design sensibilities, but I’ve greatly appreciated the offbeat and colorful directions the collection has gone since then. Remember the Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie? Today’s releases fall more into the latter camp: electric blue skeletons, blacked-out dials, and a highly complicated two-tone creation all are conceptually and aesthetically interesting enough to stand on their own. If I had to pick one of the three new watches for my personal collection, I think I’d have to go with the Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon Chronograph. It’s such a complicated watch, with an irresistible movement design featuring bridges galore, that I think I’d have a nearly endless amount of fun watching the flying tourbillon and flyback chronograph do what they do best. The electric-blue Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked is a close second though, simply for its intense, out-of-the-box colorway.
Stay tuned for a closer look at all three of these watches, plus an overview of the broader evolution of Audemars Piguet’s Code 11.59 collection since its initial 2019 release, later this week.