The end of the year 2020 has been extremely rich in Haute Horlogerie creations for Audemars Piguet. In only a few months, the brand introduced the Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon Chronograph, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon, the full ceramic Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked and, on top of these already impressive watches, the ultra-complex Code 11.59 Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie. And there was more, as the brand also added new models to the 1:1 perfect fake Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet collection, new takes on the Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon watch with refined, more original dials to bring some character, the “Aventurine Enamel” sub-collection.
Without making the full story on the introduction of the Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet collection again, and if there was much to love in the watches, one could, however, point a certain lack of originality in the inaugural blue, white or black dials found in the time-and-date or chronograph models. Maybe too shy, too conservative from a brand that is used to be disruptive and to “break the rules.” Almost 2 years after its launch, the brand has worked hard to bring some originality with multiple new additions to the collection, including the Smoked Lacquered Dials & Two-Tone Cases seen here, or the impressive handcrafted enamel dials by master enameller Anita Porchet, part of the Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie model. Code 11.59 might the vision of a modern classic, it needed some of the boldness collectors expect from Audemars Piguet.
One of the watches that first appeared in the collection was the Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon, which again introduced a brand new movement – alongside a new time-and-date automatic and an in-house integrated automatic chronograph. First available in white gold with a smoked blue enamel dial and in rose gold with an inky black enamel dial, the brand has recently added two new models, which retains the same colour schemes but adds the shimmering beauty of aventurine to the elegance of enamel.
The base of the watch, meaning its case and movement, are identical to the editions that were presented in January 2019 at the SIHH. As such, we find back the handsome case of 41mm in diameter, with its ultra-complex architecture and multiple details to look at. Made from 18k white gold or 18k pink gold, it appears at first to be a round case… until you look closely at the sides and discover that there’s actually a lot going on with the Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet. While the almost nonexistent bezel (one of the thinnest we’ve seen) is circular, it also includes the lugs, which are themselves far from simple. The lugs are hollowed and combine brushed surfaces with polished bevels, and give great dynamism to the case. The overall execution, including the superb dual-curved sapphire crystal that creates fascinating distortions, is of impeccable quality.
The second important element is the central part of the case. As an ode to the Royal Oak, a watch that has been of great importance for quality replica Audemars Piguet, the central container has been discreetly shaped with an octagonal profile, once again with a combination of brushed and polished surfaces. Altogether, this creates a deceptively simple watch that is modern, relatively discreet, but packed with high-end details and recessed surfaces. As we said previously in our review of the chronograph, Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet – whatever the complication – is “a watch that doesn’t reveal itself entirely at first sight,” and is somehow the AP for mature collectors “who want a watch for themselves and not for others.”
The main evolution on these two new Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon is to be seen on the dial. It indeed combines the refinement of enamel with the shimmering of aventurine glass for a unique effect of a star-lit sky. The brand’s in-house dial makers “have covered the timepiece’s gold dial with a blend of crushed aventurine glass and Grand Feu enamel,” resulting in a more expressive style for this watch. The process is complex and involves multiple steps. A very thin layer of glass sand mixed with water is applied by hand on the crushed aventurine glass, before being heated at more than 800°C in a dedicated oven. The procedure is repeated multiple times to achieve remarkable transparency, depth and light. Each cooking session necessitates different temperatures and times.
As said, two models have been introduced. The first one plays on a classic combination of black and gold, with a dial made of black aventurine enamel with a uniform colour, and creating a contrasting background for the hand-finished 18k pink gold hour-markers, Arabic numerals and hands. Also, the flying tourbillon cage located at 6 o’clock is presented with a subtle pink gold-toned touch. And while the mix between a black dial and a pink gold case is almost always visually appealing, the shimmering effect adds some depth and animation to this watch.
While the model above is warm and rather classic, the second version of the Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon with aventurine enamel dial is cold and more modern. First of all, the dial is made of blue aventurine enamel with a smoked effect. This gradation is achieved by incorporating blue and black aventurine glass into the enamel. The centre of the dial thus has more colour saturation while the periphery is leading towards a black colour, thus matching the lacquered inner bezel. This colour is complemented by the use of 18k white gold for the case, as well as the hand-finished hour-markers, Arabic numerals and hands. The final touch is the rhodium-plated flying tourbillon cage.
Powering the Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon is the in-house calibre 2950, a movement that was first introduced in this collection and that combines a central rotor and a flying tourbillon. This architecture for the tourbillon was first to use in 2018 by Audemars Piguet, in a Royal Oak Concept watch since the brand only relied on a traditional tourbillon with bridges top and bottom prior to this watch. Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet represents the Manufacture’s second collection to host this complex mechanism, where the tourbillon is cantilevered from the bottom and where no bridge obstructs the view from the dial side.
This calibre 2950 is a modern movement, with solid specifications. The tourbillon beats at a 3Hz frequency and the watch can store up to 65 hours of power reserve. It is also large (30.9mm in diameter) and nicely fills the caseback. It is finished with high-end decorations, such as anglages or vertical Geneva stripes. Depending on the model, the openworked oscillating weight is made of 22k pink gold (with no further treatment) or of 22k pink gold with a rhodium plating – thus matching the case.