When Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet was released in 2019, it was heralded as the brand’s most important launch in decades. But the gender-neutral timepiece was wildly polarising. It wasn’t just the cryptic name — an allusion to the minute before midnight and the optimism of a brand new day. The watch itself was a horological curve ball, both round and octagonal, traditional yet avant-garde. The complex design offered plenty to process: here was a Code that needed deciphering.
But rather than a gentle courtship, AP advanced straight to the “meet the family” stage. Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet hit the market as part of a 13-reference collection that contained everything from an open worked tour billon to a minute repeater and featured several new in-house calibres to boot. In short, Audemars Piguet was making a very ambitious play.
And the new watches keep coming. In 2020, Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet’s ranks were bolstered by the release of 10 additional references across two of the models: the automatic three-hander and the self-winding chronograph. A standout feature of these new pieces is their bold lacquered dials, released in a palette of perky colours. Evoked in a smoked sunburst pattern, dials in purple, blue and burgundy come with matching alligator straps, a look that feels contemporary and fresh.
As the buzz surrounding the launch subsided, the craftsmanship of the watches started to get recognition. The range’s latest release is a case in point. The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding Chronograph is a fusion of tradition and technology that combines 18-karat white or pink gold with black ceramic, revitalising the two-tone look a fiercely modern edge.
As with the brand’s coveted Royal Oak model, the ultra-thin round bezel is wedged onto an octagonal middle case with curved corners and openworked lugs. But this time, the middle case is made from black ceramic that highlights the architectural intricacy of the multifaceted case and brings out the lustre of the precious metal. The 41-millimetre smoked grey dial, which is finished with vertical brushing, delivers a similar effect, providing a moody backdrop on which the multiple gold elements shine, from the hands to the applied markers. Meanwhile, the inky black of the counters imbue the face with added depth.
The watch is hand-finished to showcase Audemars Piguet’s renowned skill in polished and satin-brushed chamfering. Aside from making the piece catch every glint of light, this process also serves to meld the rounded and angular surfaces of the watch’s two materials in flawless alignment. It is powered by an in-house movement, Calibre 4401, and decorated with refined finishes, such as Côtes de Genève, which can be admired through the sapphire caseback. Even the strap feels like a synthesis of old and new, with black rubber layered over a calfskin leather lining.
The result is a display of both technical mastery and Audemars Piguet’s happy refusal to play things safe. It’s an audacity fuelled by conviction and know-how, the kind of confidence that comes from being the world’s oldest Swiss watchmaker still in the hands of the founding families. As the company’s slogan emphasises, this is a true heritage brand: “Born in Le Brassus, raised around the world.”