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Ahead of Its Time: The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 in 18k White Gold

Entirely new watches are a rare occurrence. It might not seem like it with the constant slew of “new watches” we see press releases for, but almost all of those are updates to existing models, reissues, or new models that are heavily inspired by old models. But a genuinely unique and original watch doesn’t come along often. That’s what Audemars Piguet set out to create with the Code 11.59. This is the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding in 18k White Gold

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Audemars Piguet spent more than half a decade working on the Code 11.59 collection and introduced not just a new watch but an entirely new line of watches with all-new in-house calibers. This white gold automatic model with its deep blue lacquered dial was apart of that inaugural collection. Introduced in January of 2019, AP wanted to release a watch that was totally original and unique, and they made it a point to call out that no one could claim this watch was derivative of any other model. I’d have to say they achieved their goal, this isn’t a wildly avant-garde piece, but it is an entirely new design. 

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Visually the watch has a lot of presence. Because this timepiece has an internal bezel, the dial appears much bigger than it’s 41mm measurement suggests. The inner bezel denotes minutes in five-minute increments and helps add some depth to the dial, as do the sizeable white gold applied numerals and indices. The typeface used for the applied numerals and on the bezel is very clean and modern. I think they come up just short of seeming futuristic, which’s a good thing. The date window is tucked nicely between four and five o’clock and doesn’t displace any other features. It appears that AP went with a slightly different typeface for the date, but it doesn’t throw you off. This is a very clean and legible design. It gives you everything you need and nothing you don’t. 

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While the dial layout itself is very legible, AP also put a special emphasis on the design of the sapphire crystal to increase legibility. The crystal has been double curved, spherically on the underside, and vertically from six to twelve on the top. Being curved this way optimizes visibility at multiple angles and allows one to adore the rich blue dial more clearly. This detail—maybe more than any other on this timepiece—showcases just how much thought went into creating this watch. 

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Like the rest of the watch, the case and lugs were totally reimagined for the Code 11.59. Looking 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 round, the mid-case is octagonal and has some beautiful alternating brushed and polished finishing that shows off all the facets and angles. This is a nice nod to AP’s history of experimenting with novel shapes in case design and takes what is often a boring angle of the watch and makes it captivating.

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There was also a very strong focus on wearability with this timepiece.  Though it’s 41mm in diameter, AP specifically does not market this or a men’s or women’s watch. It’s a watch for whoever wants to enjoy it and has been ergonomically designed to be comfortable on a wide range of wrist sizes. You’ll also notice the lugs’ unique shape and style. This is a new tension fit design with the top portion attached to a slim bezel that holds the crystal down, and the bottom rests just against the case. 

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Through the display caseback, you can see the large 32mm automatic caliber 4302. The 4302 is a new design made in house by AP specifically for this watch. It’s a time and date movement with a generous 70-hour power reserve. It has a large beautiful 22k gold winding rotor, runs at 4hz, and contains 257 total components. The movement is beautifully but conservatively finished keeping with the overall tone of the timepiece. This is the modern caliber that a forward-looking watch like this deserves. 

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The Code 11.59 collection is a bit divisive. People seem to either love it or hate it. But I think that will change. Like most things that are ahead of their time, it’s going to take a bit for people to appreciate just how well done this watch is. This timepiece’s whole design is thoroughly modern without needing any gimmicks or outlandish features, which is rare. With the watch world currently so focused on the past, we lack fresh designs to push the industry forward. This is a refreshingly original watch that stands out in a vintage heavy era.

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