Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding

To say that CODE 11.59 debuted to mixed reviews is to say nothing at all. While many enthusiasts were impressed by the technical firepower on display – the collection featured a host of new movements, including AP’s first in-house self-winding chronograph movement – as well as the elaborate case construction and obviously high level of craftsmanship throughout, the dials, especially in the simpler models, were very divisive. However, the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding collection isn’t going anywhere. Audemars Piguet has committed itself to the collection for the long haul, and both as a token of that commitment and as an indication that the collection will continue to evolve, AP has just released the latest versions of the CODE 11.59 Selfwinding and Selfwinding Chronograph models. These feature five new sunburst lacquer dials, as well as a quite striking new version of the case, in white gold, with a pink gold case middle.
The manufacture of two-tone cases using two gold alloys is a relative rarity at Audemars Piguet in terms of the historical production (although, of course, we have seen a more frequent use of two-tone construction in the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore, including the reference 5402SA and the reference 15400). According to AP’s archives, of the 550 complicated watches the firm produced between 1882 and 1969 (a number whose relative minuteness bears considering; the company’s total number of employees did not exceed 30 until the year 1950, and did not exceed 100 until the 1970s), there are only eight which combined two types of gold. There were, of course, two-tone watches which combined gold and steel, including the ref. 1533 which was the basis for this year’s [Re]Master chronograph, but using two different kinds of gold was much more unusual. In AP’s entire production prior to 1970, there is only a single watch which combines white and pink gold.
When Audemars Piguet launched the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding collection in 2019, there were a total of 13 models in six families – time and date; selfwinding chronograph; perpetual calendar; flying tourbillon; openworked flying tourbillon; and a minute repeater (the latter built on the Supersonnerie principles, which were first introduced publicly in the Royal Oak Concept RD#1 in 2015, and a year later, as the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie). The two flying tourbillons are part of a very long history of wristwatch tourbillon development at AP, which goes all the way back to the first series-produced automatic tourbillon wristwatch, the caliber 2870. That watch debuted in 1986 and featured a number of technical innovations, including the use of the caseback itself as the movement plate, and an exceedingly minute titanium tourbillon cage. Notably, the first Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding tourbillons are hand-wound; however, Audemars Piguet today has announced an automatic version of the hand-wound caliber 2950, which is the caliber 2952 – and the 2952 includes a flyback chronograph as well.
The whole idea of a tourbillon chronograph is not, of course, a new one for Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding; as a matter of fact, the first tourbillon chronograph from the company was introduced back in 2003. That watch was the Royal Oak Chronograph Tourbillon Ref. 25977, with the caliber 2889, running at 21,600 vph in 28 jewels. Interestingly, the ref. 25977, while obviously not an ultra-thin watch like the 2870, did share with its predecessor a somewhat unusual v-shaped upper tourbillon bridge (it was, however, a much larger watch, at 44mm x 12.9mm).

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