Audemars Piguet launched the Code 11.59 last year in a spectacular burst of abundance—13 references, including time/date, chronograph, perpetual calendar, automatic flying tourbillon, openworked tourbillon, and Supersonnerie minute repeater models made up the collection. Now 10 new variations have been added to Code 11.59. The new models include a two-tone in 18-karat white and rose gold, rather than the traditional steel and gold combination, along with new fume dials in several colors, including deep red, purple and grey. Two-tone gold cases are extremely rare in the history of Audemars Piguet wristwatches. Out of the 550 wristwatches produced and sold between 1882 and 1969, only eight examples combined two types of gold. The blend of white and pink gold was particularly rare, with only one such wristwatch recorded in the company’s archives before 1978.
Some of the initial online response to the Code 11.59 from the collector community last year was negative, possibly because the watch was so hard to define, and so different from the Royal Oak, the brand’s flagship model. It has, however, been a big seller for the brand and last year the Supersonnerie minute repeater version won the Men’s Complication prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the Oscars of watchmaking. The release of 10 new references is either a testament to its popularity or a sign that AP is digging in its heels to make it a memorable, or at least prolific reference.
The 11.59 is a unique design that was difficult for some to place within the pantheon of watch genre categories. It is sportier and edgier than traditional dress watches, yet on the dressy side of the Royal Oak. The very narrow bezel makes the case look larger than its 41 mm size, and gives a wide expanse to the dial, resulting in an open, minimalist look, even with multiple functions. This spare look is emphasized by super-skinny hands and indexes, while the Arabic font is derived from one used on an AP minute repeater from the 1940s. The case is unique and architectural without being too wild or out of round. The bezel is round, so that’s how it looks from the top, but the case band is octagonal, giving it a more angular profile, mirroring the shape of the Royal Oak’s bezel and hexagonal screws. Those same screws, by the way, are used on the lugs of the 11.59. The buttress-style skeletonized lugs add to the architectural dimension of the design.
The two-tone model really enhances the contrasting geometry of the case design, particularly so with the combination of polished and brushed finishing. And the new colored-dial models are a testament to the versatility of the complex design of the 11.59. They look almost like completely different models than the two-tone gold. The colored dials are lacquered in the fume style, which means they go from light to dark from the center to the outside of the case, a detail popular on watch dials of the 1970s. The colors give the watch a feminine feel, despite the 41mm width, which for most women is a little on the big side, but the watch has always been billed as gender neutral. “It’s not a men’s watch, and it’s not a woman’s watch. It’s a watch,” said Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias when it was launched.
Of the 10 new models, there are five self-winding date, hour, minute and second references and five new self-winding chronograph models all with double curved glare-proof sapphire crystals and hand-stitched large-square scale alligator straps matching the dial’s color. The hour, minute, and seconds model in rose or white gold is priced at $26,800. The chronograph in rose or white gold is $42,400. The three-hand, two-tone is priced at $26,800, and the two-tone chronograph is $42,400.