As was the case last year, Audemars Piguet’s 2020 CODE 11.59 line broke countless boundaries, but everyone knows that when it comes to Audemars Piguet, this line is still not the star of the show. But does this mean that it cannot become an iconic part of the future watchmaker’s product portfolio?
Audemars Piguet has a long history. It is one of the earlier players in the game and has been in the watchmaking industry since 1875. Over the years, the watch company has been committed to experimentation and innovation, and has made achievements such as the world’s first minute repeater movement. Used in wrist watches (1892).
Followed by the extremely complex Universelle model (1899), it has a split-second chronograph, jumping and non-jumping seconds, a general strike, a minute repeater, an alarm clock and a perpetual calendar. AP also developed the world’s first skeleton watch (1934) and the world’s first perpetual calendar watch (1955) with leap year display, day of the week, peripheral date, month and moon phase display functions.
However, around the 1970s, the brand began to insist on selling certain successful, more sporty product lines that were still leading the way in the 21st century. This brings us to Audemars Piguet’s 2020 CODE 11.59. First launched last year, these watches are part of a very classic collection compared to the watch manufacturer’s recent best-selling products. The renewed focus on classic formal watches and the large investment in the still very young series raise a question-is Audemars Piguet’s CODE 11.59 likely to become another decisive work in Le Brassus’ strong manufacturing history?
Why did Audemars Piguet release CODE 11.59?
In the past ten years, Audemars Piguet’s popularity has increased year by year. According to François-Henry Bennahmias, the CEO we interviewed last year, Audemars Piguet’s global watch sales in every market may be 50% more than the actual sales (currently 40,000). In this sense, Audemars Piguet focuses its strategy on exclusivity. “The volume guides everything we do,” Bennahmias said. “If we control the quantity, we can control the completeness and quality of the delivery.”
For this reason, the Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 dial supplier was surprised when they ordered 4,000 pieces last year, compared with 2,000 pieces the previous year. However, this is not wrong-this year, Audemars Piguet doubled the number of its CODE 11.59 watches. This development reflects the brand’s decision to increase production to 45,000 watches in 2020-in addition, this means that 2,000 of the additional 5,000 watches will be Audemars Piguet’s CODE 11.59.
According to Bennahmias, “The main reason why Audemars Piguet launched CODE 11.59 is to showcase the history of the brand.” This not only includes reviewing the details of past creations, but also aims to highlight its innovative capabilities-AP has accumulated a wealth of wealth in the past 145 years. Experience. For example, during the quartz crisis, with the collapse of many watchmakers, Audemars Piguet calmly produced the world’s thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar.
However, creativity does not stop at complexity. In past designs, from asymmetrical cases to octagonal diamond-encrusted bracelet watches, they are also embodied in aesthetics. The CODE 11.59 series aims to represent this relentless pursuit of innovation in any form-while keeping in mind that the series must be timeless.
The CODE 11.59 watch took no less than 700 years to create a concept. This shows the depth and consideration behind the watch design. As Bennahmias told us, these timepieces are designed to impress people: “We want people to look at Audemars Piguet’s CODE 11.59 from the perspective of watchmaking and say: ‘respect’”.
Perhaps the most important thing is the meaning behind the name of the series, which shows the strategic thinking behind the perfect watch:
Challenge-Challenge the limits of craftsmanship
Ownership-our roots and heritage
Dare to follow firm beliefs
11.59-The last minute before the new day
The collection itself: from 2019 to 2020
As mentioned earlier, Audemars Piguet’s CODE 11.59 series did not come out until last year, when it was exhibited at the “SIHH 2019” and received undeniable mixed reviews. Six watches of 13 models were exhibited: including two self-winding and self-winding chronographs, a perpetual calendar, and two watches with tourbillons-skeleton tourbillon and self-winding flying tourbillon The flywheel, and most importantly the minute repeater Supersonnerie. The automatic, chronograph and tourbillon versions also marked the launch of three new movements.
This year, the brand launched five new self-winding watches and five new self-winding chronographs. It is not yet known whether we can expect to see more complex models, but if we do, can this help us gauge the acceptance of other CODE 11.59 versions last year?
2020: new version, new design?
Frankly speaking, 2020 CODE 11.59 watches are not significant, unlike their predecessors 2019. However, the new dial color and case material are definitely worth seeing. The smoky lacquer dial is decorated with sunburst patterns in blue, burgundy and purple, as well as light gray or dark gray.
The inner bezel is black or gray, adding a layer of depth to the already colorful dial. In some versions, such as purple or a certain degree of wine red, the sunburst has almost disappeared due to the deep color of the dial. However, on other versions, such as the blue dial version, light blue and dark blue look very beautiful in the sun. At the same time, the gray dial shows the sunburst pattern particularly well, but at first glance it seems whiter than gray-arguably a more feminine choice.
At this point, the new color is definitely beneficial to the brand’s unisex design—Bennahmias described Audemars Piguet’s CODE 11.59 as “not a men’s watch, nor a women’s watch, it’s a watch.” Observe the bold purple, It will be interesting whether silver and burgundy watches are more popular among women or men. After all, this series marks the first time the brand has consciously created a line for men and women.
Unlike last year’s CODE 11.59 watch, some new versions confuse things by combining a vivid dial with a two-tone gold case. The four light gray and dark gray dial models combine an 18-carat pink gold middle case and an 18-carat white gold bezel, lugs and back cover. Interestingly, the applied time scales and hands match the material of the middle case rather than the bezel, which undoubtedly highlights the two-tone aspect of the watch from all angles. Whether this combination is really effective can be said to be a matter of taste. It should also be noted that although Audemars Piguet confidently calls this line “eternal”, there is no doubt that two-tone watches will fall out of favor sooner or later.
More importantly, it is important to look at the two-color box from the collector’s point of view. Two-tone gold cases are extremely rare in the history of Audemars Piguet best quality watches-for example, of the 550 watches produced and sold between 1882 and 1969, only eight watches combined two types of gold-white gold and rose gold The combination is particularly unusual. In other words, they are gradually becoming more and more common, and it seems that watch companies are now preparing to use two-tone gold combinations more frequently.
Interestingly, there were actually two CODE 11.59 released last year-platinum and rose gold Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked Only Watch Edition. Its price is no less than one million Swiss francs. Second, the highly acclaimed [Re]master01 self-winding chronograph released earlier this year uses an unusual combination of rose gold and stainless steel. These two AP watches are likely to be the key factors for the two-color CODE 11.59 model this year.
At the same time, the remaining six watches use only one case material-otherwise it will cause confusion, because the dial color is bright and bold. The burgundy dial watch uses an 18-carat white gold case, while the purple and blue versions have an 18-carat pink gold case. The applied hour markers and hands match the material of the case. At this point-Arabic numerals are inspired by the minute repeater of the 1940s-pay tribute to the roots of the brand.
CODE 11.59: Highlights
As mentioned earlier, Audemars Piguet claims to have launched the CODE 11.59 series, hoping to show the manufacturer’s long tradition in designing experiments. Perhaps this is why this watch took more than five years to create. The wholesale watch explored a variety of new innovative watchmaking methods, from its unique case shape to the unusual layering method used for dial markings.
Case: “Natural classic, unconventional design”
In the case of Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59, with its juxtaposition geometry, it is the defining characteristic of the watch by Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59. According to Bennahmias, the team went through about 25 different designs, plus many different interior and exterior designers, before finally finalizing the design of the “round” case.
The three-piece case of Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59-the easiest to see in the two-color version-is all watchmaking; push the boundaries and don’t be afraid to try. The 41mm case integrates an octagonal middle case-which may be a tribute to the brand’s first octagonal watch in 1917-with a round ultra-thin bezel and stylized arched lugs. As mentioned earlier, the two-color version will definitely attract people’s attention to this unusual design, which may be missed at first glance.
The lugs of the watch case need a new production process, getting rid of the traditional watch case manufacturing process. Hollow lugs, hand-soldered with solder paste, combine a total of five different shafts. First, they are welded to the upper bezel to give a clear view of the octagonal middle case. Second, the upper lug is welded to the ultra-thin bezel, while the bottom lug just rests on the bottom cover. In order to understand what this measurement looks like in real life: it leaves enough space for a piece of paper to slide into the gap between the case and the lugs, basically letting the lugs float in the air.
Unusually, the case material is used alternately between beveled, satin-finished and polished parts. Due to the angular shape of the case and the variety of round surfaces, this is no easy task. Therefore, Audemars Piguet uses a highly professional team of six polishers and five satin drawing experts. More importantly, due to the details of the case itself, the job of the polisher becomes more complicated-the parts cannot even be changed slightly, as this will affect the alignment of the Popular watch.
All in all, the unusual combination of round cases, somehow octagonal at the same time, is not only unique, but also a key factor in how CODE 11.59 will become a work with its own identity in the future. It is also designed as a practical watch case-it is designed to fit any wrist size through its curved design.