Audemars Piguet is known for its history in creating watch cases unique to its time. Its most well-known success is the iconic Royal Oak, with the all familiar octagon bezel which is also carried over to the 11.59 design. We examine the AP Code 11.59 Self-Winding.
The Code 11.59 is a new collection which is rife with controversy, be it in the handling of its press release to the way in which a full collection with multiple models and calibers were launched at the same time. But to say the least, the watch rose to ‘critical acclaim’ for its otherwise uninspired design — in the eyes of many internet watch fans.
The AP Code 11.59 Self-Winding
The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Self-Winding comes either in 18k pink gold (with white or black lacquered dial) or in 18k white gold (with blue or black lacquered dial). We take a closer look at the 18k pink gold version with the white lacquer dial.
Some say that the watch looks more like a lazy upgrade to a run-off-the-mill Fossil watch, while others were unimpressed due to the lack of ingenuity in the design.
The case, dial and hands
The case measures some 41mm, the 11.59 embeds the octagonal middle case within a round case of 18 K rose gold. We find the criticism leveled at the casework is perhaps unwarranted. The casework and finishing is exemplary, as expected of a watch in the price range. It is a mixture of satin and polished surfaces, with the thin bezel with a bright polish, and the top lug as well as center-case brushed.
The crystal is a complex double curved glareproofed sapphire. The glass’s internal surface is shaped like a dome, while its external surface is vertically curved from 6 to 12 o’clock. Its shape integrates the extra- thin bezel and extends from edge to edge.
The polished chamfer all around the glass adds the finishing touch, while echoing the perfect finish of the bezel, lugs and case. The extra-thin bezel brings forward the artistry of the smooth lacquered dial.
With its optimum curved ergonomics, the case has been conceived to adjust to different wrist sizes, making it comfortable for all to wear despite its 41 mm in diameter.
The dial is a two step design with a raised outer edge. The entire dial is a white lacquer surface which we feel is rather pedestrian, and perhaps the source of the accusations of being unglamorous and some say even ugly. Especially in a watch with ambitions this lofty. The black lacquer version is even more ordinary looking.
The outer ring is printed with black numerals marking each 5 minute interval, and an inner track of dots and dashes mark the minutes. The hands are long, rather slender hands with sharpened ends.
Of interest is the production method of the Audemars Piguet signature on the dial. It measures 12.5 mm in length in a unique topography. Made of thin layers of 24-carat gold, it is achieved through a chemical process akin to 3-D printing known as galvanic growth. Each letter is connected with links approximately the size of a hair and placed by hand on the dial with tiny legs almost invisible to the eye.
Galvanic growth, which derives from micro-electronics, enables to reach micrometric precision. Although used in horology for movements, this technique is used for the first time with 24-carat gold. Going against initial warnings regarding the feasibility of such a logo, Audemars Piguet engineers followed their firm convictions.
In addition to the 3-D Audemars Piguet signature being made by galvanic growth, the curved gold indexes and Arabic numerals also take advantage of this technology.
The movement: AP caliber 4302
This watch is powered by a new self-winding movement, calibre 4302, that features a dedicated 22-carat gold oscillating weight. This caliber is also used in the Royal Oak Ref. 15500. (Edited for accuracy as the 4302 was introduced in 2019 simultaneously in the Code 11.59 Self-Winding and the RO 1550)
The visual impact of the rotor is rather pleasing, and the movement is judged to be sufficiently well finished at this price level.
The movement is a also little small for a watch case this size, as it measures a mere 32mm. In the 41mm case, this mandates the use of a thick bezel to cover the movement ring which no doubt is used within.
The watch in and of itself is not as offensive as how many made it to sound. But it is by now, only accepted as the ‘just ok’ design that Audemars Piguet raised. Given the iconic status AP has in design and also its traditional place as among the Trinity, this is disappointing.
The major issue lies with the product positioning; and a confusing neo-classical watch category. The dial layout looks primarily classic, but its raised rehaut reminds wearers of a diver style inner bezel design. Its case however, is well-executed. Put together, the watch made a shot to notoriety and while not for the best reasons, have become a well-known, widely talked about classic sports watch.
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Self-Winding Technical Data
41 mm diameter
18-carat pink gold case
Glareproofed sapphire crystal and caseback Water-resistant to 30 m
Movement Technical Data
Selfwinding Manufacture calibre 4302
Total diameter: 32 mm (14 lignes)
Total thickness: 4.80 mm
Number of jewels: 32
Number of parts: 257
Minimal guaranteed power reserve: 70 h Frequency of balance wheel:
4 Hz (= 28,800 vibrations/hour)
Lacquered white or black dial
18-carat pink gold applied hour-markers
24-carat pink gold applied logo in galvanic growth Lacquered white or black inner bezel
Hand-stitched “large square scale” brown or black alligator strap with 18-carat pink gold pin buckle