Brand new cheap watches are rare. The “new watches” we see constantly appearing in press releases may not look like much, but almost all of them are updates to existing models, reissues, or new models that are heavily inspired by older models. But truly unique original watches don’t come around very often. That’s what Audemars Piguet set out to create with Code 11.59. This is the 18k White Gold Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Self-Winding Watch.
Audemars Piguet has spent more than five years working on the Code 11.59 collection, launching not only a new watch, but a whole new line of watches featuring a new in-house movement. This white gold automatic watch with a dark blue lacquered dial is part of the collection. Launched in January 2019, The Associated Press wanted to release a watch that was completely original and unique, and they specifically pointed out that no one can claim that the watch is a derivative of any other model. I have to say they achieved their goal, it’s not a very edgy piece, but it’s a whole new design.
Visually, the watch has a lot of presence. Because this timepiece has an inner bezel, the dial looks much larger than the 41mm measurement. The inner bezel shows minutes in five-minute increments, helping to add depth to the dial, as do the large white gold-applied numerals and indexes. The font used to apply the numbers and on the bezel is very clean and modern. I think it’s a good thing that they don’t appear futuristic. The date window is nicely tucked in between four and five o’clock and doesn’t replace any other features. It looks like the AP date font is slightly different, but it won’t disappoint. It’s a very clean and readable design. It gives you everything you need and you don’t.
While the dial layout itself is very clear and easy to read, AP also places special emphasis on the design of the sapphire crystal to increase legibility. The crystals are hyperbolic, spherical at the bottom and vertical from six to twelve at the top. Bending in this way optimizes visibility from multiple angles and allows people to appreciate the rich blue dial more clearly. This detail—perhaps more than any other detail on this timepiece—shows the idea behind the creation of this watch.
Like the rest of the watch, the case and lugs have been completely redesigned to comply with Code 11.59. From above, the case and lugs look relatively standard, nothing to write home about. But from the side, you can see how complex they are. While the top and bottom of the case are rounded, the middle case is octagonal and has some nice alternating brushed and polished finishes that showcase all the facets and angles. It’s a nice nod to the AP’s history of experimenting with novel shapes in case design, and taking the often boring angles of watches and making them charming.
This timepiece also has a strong focus on wearability. Although it is 41mm in diameter, AP specifically does not sell this or men’s or women’s watches. It’s a watch for those who want to enjoy it, and it’s ergonomically designed to fit every wrist size. You’ll also notice the unique shape and style of the lugs. It’s a new tension-fit design, with the top attached to an elongated bezel that presses the crystal down and the bottom against the case.
Through the display case back, you can see the large 32mm self-winding calibre 4302. The 4302 is a new design specially created by AP for this watch. This is a time and date movement with a 70-hour power reserve. It has a nice large 22k gold wound rotor that runs at 4hz and contains a total of 257 components. The movement is beautifully but conservatively finished in keeping with the overall tone of the timepiece. This is the modern movement that a forward-looking watch should have.
The Code 11.59 set is a bit split. People seem to either love it or hate it. But I think that will change. Like most things ahead of their time, it takes a little time for people to appreciate how good this watch is. The overall design of this timepiece is very modern and doesn’t require any gimmicks or quirky features, which are rare. With the watch world currently so focused on the past, we lack new designs to move the industry forward. This is a refreshingly original watch that stands out in a retro-heavy era.