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Audemars Piguet Brings Back The Starwheel

Let’s get a couple of things about Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Starwheel collection out of the way up front. It was introduced in 2019 as a clear commercial effort by AP to be something more than the Royal Oak. Second, that initial time-only Code 11.59 was a relatively uninspired way to introduce a collection that was supposed to represent “the future of AP.”

Today, Audemars Piguet announced the latest addition to the Code 11.59 collection, the “Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Starwheel.” More than three years since that initial Code 11.59 release – and more than 30 Code 11.59 models into the collection – we’re far enough removed from that initial launch to evaluate new Code 11.59 models on their own terms. Not every release needs to be a referendum on Audemars Piguet or the Code 11.59.
That said, this might be the most interesting Code 11.59 yet.

Yes, it’s an inherently weird watch, with a complication originally designed by a couple of Roman clockmakers for a pope in the 17th century, and a brash case construction that’s as technically fascinating as it is confounding to wear. No, this particular watch isn’t the “next Royal Oak,” or even “the future of AP” – it’s just a watch, and that’s just fine.
This new Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Starwheel has a wandering hours complication inside an 18-karat white gold Code 11.59 case with a black ceramic midcase. It’s a time-only watch. The 12 wandering hour disks “wander” across the dial, with the current hour pointing to the current minute along the 120-degree minute track at the top of the dial. For example, the time in the image above is about 10:36. The next hour disk reaches the minute track at the turn of the hour. It’s actually a somewhat intuitive, elegant way of telling the time. The rotating disks are fixed on the central rotor wheel, each attaching to the rotor by a star wheel at the center of the disk. Hence the name.

It’s a little trite to call anything in watchmaking “romantic” nowadays, but I guess it’s fitting here: Not only is the wandering hour complication itself anachronistic, but so is the effect on the wearer. One could, if one wanted, wax poetic about watching each hour rise and set as it works its way across the dial, like a (just slightly) more practical moonphase. The implementation is fairly simple, too. The central rotor completes a revolution every three hours, while the hour disks make a quarter turn (90 degrees) every hour.
At $57,900, the price isn’t outlandish (well, not any more outlandish than, say, Cartier asking $44,000 for its new Pebble). Sure, it’s a lot of money, but it’s not a lot more than you’d pay for an original Audemars Piguet Starwheel from the 1990s, and there’s a hell of a lot more modern watchmaking to unpack here.

To achieve this, Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Starwheel added a wandering-hour module to its time-only caliber 4309. On the dial, black opaline disks rotate above a blue aventurine dial and a black inner bezel. The font on the hour disks and minute track is decidedly modern, and a white gold center seconds sweeps atop the whole apparatus. Meanwhile, the white gold case, with its black ceramic midcase (which we’ve seen AP use a few times now), is the type of complicated construction AP promised when it first introduced the Code 11.59, beveled edges and all.
The Starwheel complication is a callback to the Starwheel AP introduced in 1991, which is itself an implementation of the wandering hours complication that Roman clockmakers the Campani Brothers developed for a pope in the 17th century (here’s an example of the complication in one of their clocks in the British Museum). The original Starwheel had a traditional, 36mm case, a dressy watch that had more in common with AP’s ultra-thin perpetual calendar than with the Royal Oak. A wandering hours complication in a traditional profile wasn’t intended to rival the Royal Oak in 1991, nor is it in 2022.

AP produced the Starwheel in a number of variations through the early ’90s, typically in yellow gold or platinum (and eventually, in rose gold), with guilloche or Arabesque engraved dials. Rarer are gem-set examples: last year, Antiquorum sold a pair of unique Starwheels with ruby- and emerald-set bezels for more than $100,000. Like the entire made-up category of neo-vintage, appreciation for Starwheels of all types has grown: While a standard yellow-gold Starwheel could be found selling for $8,000 just four years ago, today they might sell for $30,000 to $40,000.
In 1996, Audemars Piguet discontinued this first generation of the Starwheel, along with the rest of its classic model lineup (goodbye, Starwheel; goodbye ultra-thin perpetual calendar; hello, The Beast!). But AP wasn’t finished with the Starwheel altogether: it’d bring back the complication in its short-lived John Shaeffer Collection, and then in the Millenary. The John Schaeffer Collection was inspired by a single cushion-shaped minute repeater watch from the early 1900s, commissioned by American industrialist (and watch collector) John Schaeffer.

In the 1990s, AP used the watch as inspiration to introduce a small line of mostly complicated watches. Among these were limited runs of the Starwheel, paired in a cushion case along with a minute repeater – production of these is counted in the dozens, with most variations having been produced in limited runs of ten, five, or three. Nowadays, these John Schaeffer Starwheels are some of the most coveted: The last example to publicly surface sold for $100,000 more than two years ago. Finally, in 2000, to celebrate its 125th anniversary AP introduced a limited edition of the Starwheel in the Millenary.
While AP was finished with the Starwheel by 2000, its impact on the watch industry remained: most notably, Urwerk has used the wandering hours complication in dizzying varieties since its launch in 1997. Not only that, but hardcore collectors – and even staffers inside AP, by its own admission – immediately lamented the departure of the Starwheel. To many, the original Starwheel represents an example of a large Swiss brand innovating its way beyond the Quartz Crisis.

Sure, it’s not an icon like the Royal Oak. Nor is it as important to Audemars Piguet as its ultra-thin perpetual calendar. But the Starwheel is a niche that collectors have come to enjoy, not only for its unique aesthetic and way of displaying time but also for the era of watchmaking it represents. For serious collectors, the Starwheel is something to collect in its own right. And in a world where collectors love “firsts,” the Starwheel will always have a following as the first modern wandering hours watch.

Today, the Starwheel is back where it started, with AP. Only time will tell if this new Starwheel – or really, Code 11.59 more broadly – will mean something similar to this era.
Enough of the history lesson. Let’s talk about this Code 11.59 Starwheel and how it wears. Take a look at most comment sections of our Code 11.59 coverage, and you’ll see a common sentiment shared (okay, you’ll see a few common sentiments): One is reflexive snark dating back to the original release, which by now is a tired joke. A more constructive take is that the Code 11.59 needs to be seen in person to be really understood, if not appreciated. Honestly, I think the Starwheel photographs as well as any Code 11.59 yet (maybe that’s just thanks to this ace photography from Mark Kauzlarich, though), but yes – it’s still a better experience in person.
I was chatting with an artist the other day (I know, sick brag, Tony), who explained to me how every painting, no matter how simple or how busy, needs an “entry point,” a place that pulls your eyes in first before they work their way across the rest of the painting. Now, I’m not one of those people who argues that watchmaking is art or anything like that, but I couldn’t help but think of this artist’s idea as the wandering hour disk indicating the current time naturally caught my eyes before they, well, wandered across the other disks and caught a glimpse of the aventurine underneath, before then trying to figure out what the hell was going on with that case. It made me think that maybe all the stuff going on with the Code 11.59 Starwheel actually does work together.

As Logan hypothesized after the last round of (complicated) Code 11.59 releases, perhaps this is the best use of the Code 11.59: as a home for complications. Not just complications in the traditional, mechanical watchmaking sense (after all, wandering hours aren’t that complicated, as far as such things go), but also in case making, in materials, in throwing a bunch of things together and seeing what sticks.

I already mentioned AP’s John Shaeffer Collection from the 1990s – back then, it was “innovative” for AP to stick its complicated, modern watchmaking in those traditional, cushion cases. But would it be today? Sure, it’d be a hit – just look at what Cartier’s done with its Privé collection the last few years. So-called purists gush over it, hardly mentioning the (ahem) aggressive pricing of that limited-edition Pebble. But what AP’s trying with the Code 11.59 is more challenging – more challenging to itself as a manufacturer and to us as so-called collectors. More, well, complicated.

Is the Code 11.59 Starwheel the future of AP beyond the Royal Oak? Of course not, nor does it claim to be. But if AP is to find such a future, it’s not going to be in superheroes or soundboards. It’ll be in the type of watchmaking that the Starwheel represents.

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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar 41

The hottest luxury watch on the planet is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

Ah, but which Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar? Which one is the most interesting and collectible of all the contemporary, current-production models? My nominee is the ceramic-cased Royal Oak QP.

It features everything that makes a “conventional” (if there is such a thing) Royal Oak so damn good – namely the grande tapisserie dial, the thin profile, the integrated bracelet that’s a work of art unto itself, and of course, the octagonal bezel – but the ceramic-cased RO QP pushes it all to the max. The use of state-of-the-art colored ceramic for the case and bracelet means the entire package is bolder, more recognizable, and more scratch-proof than ever before.
At the same time, inside, the ultra-thin caliber 5134 is able to balance the seemingly disparate realm of the highly technical and the supremely slim, in superlative fashion. Ben was absolutely right when, in 2017, he introduced the inaugural ceramic Royal Oak QP by saying, “I’m calling it right here and right now, this is the hottest watch of SIHH 2017.” Five years later, during the Royal Oak’s ongoing 50th anniversary, the watch is still causing temperatures to rise.
That’s because, earlier today, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar quietly unveiled another scorcher. Following 2017’s original blacked-out ceramic RO QP and the white-ceramic sequel that came two years later, AP has released a new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar (ref. 26579CS.OO.1225CS.01) via its official brand website – and this one comes in blue (!) ceramic for the very first time. Is anyone else sweating or is it just me?

The new, blue Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is mostly identical to its predecessors, sharing an identical ultra-thin self-winding movement (caliber 5134) and case profile (41mm × 9.5mm), with the only major updates coming in the form of the high-tech blue ceramic case and the matching blue color of the grande tapisserie dial. But given how coveted the black and white ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars have become, this one still rates as a big deal.
Details on the new release are currently fairly scarce (in this case, what you see is what we see), but considering the high-profile nature of many of the known owners of previous ceramic RO QPS, it’s safe to say it’s a watch that will land on the wrists of many of AP’s best clients. We’ve previously spotted Draymond Green rocking his white-ceramic example, and everyone from UK rapper Stormzy, French actor Omar Sy, American comedian Kevin Hart, and Norwegian DJ Kygo have been seen with a touch of ceramic on their wrist.

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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding 37

It’s raining bling! Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henri Bennahmias isn’t holding back before his impending departure from the brand in 2023. Instead, true to his persona, he’s upping the ante for the Q4 celebrations of the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary with a flashy lineup of 20 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Rainbow pieces (10 in 41 mm and 10 in 37 mm) fully set—from the dial to the bezel to the case to the bracelet—in emeralds, rubies, tourmalines, tanzanites, tsavorites, chrysoberyls and spessartites. Unlike other “rainbow” watches, these are arranged in monochrome settings such as a fully yellow chrysoberyl-set version to one dressed in solid rubies.
Each Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Rainbow 41 mm watch is outfitted in 861 stones (between 30 and 47 carats) and each 37 mm model is accented with 790 stones (between 21 to 37 carats)—an incredible feat when you consider how hard it is to find that many stones of matching colour, clarity, quality and size. In fact, the process was such a challenge it took an entire year. The gem-setting was orchestrated by Pierre Salanitro, a longtime AP collaborator who is generally regarded as the master of his particular profession in Switzerland. Adding to the difficulty in setting the variations of stones is that each watch had to be adjusted according to the typology, hardness and other specifics according to the makeup of each type of stone. The baguette stones were also cut in 179 different sizes for the 41 mm version and 153 different sizes for the 37 mm iteration before being hand-polished. To make sure the stones covered as much surface as possible, Audemars Piguet and Salanitro arranged them in an invisible setting—a jewelry technique in which as little metal as possible is revealed around the gems to give the appearance that they are floating—on the dial and bracelet links. To achieve this, tiny grooves were cut into the 18-karat white gold cases with the stones attached inside via hidden rails mounted in the metal. This kind of setting is notoriously difficult and only 10 out of 80 artisans at Salanitro’s studio are able to complete the task. They worked for a month and a half on the setting alone for each set.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Rainbow timepieces contain the calibre 4309 for the 41 mm version—the most recent self-winding hours, minutes and seconds movement in this diameter—and the Caliber 5909 for the 37 mm model. The 5909 is based on the Caliber 5900, which first appeared this year in other Royal Oaks of the same case size. Like other 50th anniversary editions, these will also come with a 22-carat pink gold oscillating rotor that spells out “50 years.” The Audemars Piguet logo and “Swiss Made” label have been cautiously printed on the sapphire crystal so as not to interfere with the gems.

Needless to say, however, these watches are anything but discreet. You won’t need to see a logo to know that these are AP Royal Oaks from a distance and all of the added high-end adornment ensures they can be spotted quite easily from across a room. Consider hiring a bodyguard with your purchase.

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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding 41

Audemars Piguet revealed its first 41 mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding Chronograph entirely crafted in black ceramic with contrasting pink gold accents appearing on the dial. Each ceramic component is pre-polished and pre-satin-brushed prior to being finished by hand, culminating in polished chamfers juxtaposed with Audemars Piguet’s trademark satin-brushed and polished surfaces.

The black dial features a Grande Tapisserie pattern and matching counters with fine pink-gold-toned threads. Additional pink gold highlights, including applied hour-markers, Royal Oak hands and the Audemars Piguet signature, deliver eye-catching contrast.

To celebrate the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary, this new 41 mm Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph housed in black ceramic features the collection’s new evolutionary dial design. The artisans have harmonized the size of the luminescent facetted hour-markers and the hands while preserving their aesthetics. The logo has been reworked. A gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding signature endowed with a unique topography now replaces the applied AP monogram and the printed “AUDEMARS PIGUET” at 12 o’clock. The embossed signature decorating the new Royal Oak “anniversary” models is made of thin layers of 24-carat gold. Each letter is connected with links approximately the size of a hair and placed on the dial by hand with tiny legs almost invisible to the naked eye.

By increasing the size of the small seconds display, all three counters feature the same diameter, augmenting readability. The central sweep seconds hand features a new style of counterweight encompassing a new trapezoidal openworked profile.

The pins connecting the links to the studs of the black ceramic bracelet are no longer visible on the sides, but fitted directly into the studs.

This new version of the 41 mm Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph is fitted with a dedicated anniversary openworked oscillating weight in blackened 22-carat gold, which features the “50-years” logo and the engraved Audemars Piguet signature. The oscillating weight has been darkened in order to match the color of the case.

At the heart of each reference is the Manufacture’s latest generation chronograph movement, the selfwinding Calibre 4401. It is fully integrated and features a column wheel and a flyback function. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding flyback function allows the wearer to stop, reset and start the chronograph in one simple action. The column wheel works in collaboration with a vertical clutch system. When starting or stopping the chronograph, the hands respond accordingly without any jumping. The push-pieces feel smooth when pressed. A patented zero resetting mechanism ensures that each one of the counter hands instantaneously resets to zero.

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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph 41 Ceramic

Today, silently without any press release, Audemars Piguet adds up a black full ceramic Royal Oak Chrono ref. 26240CE.OO.1225CE.01. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph has seen many iterations and facelifts since its launch in 1997-1998 under reference 25860. Perhaps the most significant up until now took place in 2016 when the Royal Oak Chrono reference 26300 went from a 39 mm case to a 41 mm as reference 26320. A few months ago, Audemars Piguet presented a new lineup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak.
This all-black 41 mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph fully crafted in black ceramic and contrasted with subtle pink gold accents is endowed with the collection’s latest design evolution and “50-year” anniversary oscillating weight. The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph 50th Anniversary ref. 26240CE in black ceramic is powered by the latest generation in-house chronograph movement, the automatic Calibre 4401, visible through the watch’s sapphire case back.

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Audemars Piguet Just Dropped 5 Exciting New Tourbillon Watches

Evidently, not this month. Just when we thought maybe the good folks at AP would lay back, take a breather, have a nice glass of Bordeaux—whatever—they drop five more new models. With picks from the CODE 11.59 and Royal Oak collections, there’s something for everyone…so long as you like your watches complicated. Like, highly complicated, with calendars and chronographs and tourbillons and and GMTs and all manner of fun horological stuff.
If this isn’t one of the coolest expressions of the AP CODE 11.59 collection since its 2019 debut, I will eat my hat. (I don’t actually own a hat so joke’s on you, but you get it.) What we have here is a highly sophisticated flying tourbillon counterbalanced with an understated case and dial — a very, very chic dial. The 41mm case itself is 18K white gold with a black ceramic midcase; a thin bezel and a double-curved sapphire crystal frame a black onyx face devoid of conventional hour markers. Instead, a printed, pink gold-toned minute track graces the inner bezel, while pink gold hands and a laser cut, pink gold “Audemars Piguet” signature join the tourbillon case, which showcases the pulsating balance wheel within. Powering the watch is the automatic Calibre 2950 with 65 hours of power reserve.
In keeping with the gold-and-ceramic theme, check this out: A pink gold and black ceramic automatic chronograph with tourbillon. Housed in a 41mm 18K pink gold case with a black ceramic midcase, this 50-piece limited edition’s bi-color livery is complemented by a black outer minute track, a skeletonized dial, a dual-register chronograph with 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers, and a tourbillon at 6 o’clock. The automatic Calibre 2952 with its 40 jewels and mind-boggling 479 components is a thing of stunning beauty, boasting a pink gold oscillating weight and flyback functionality. Contrasting white gold hands maintain legibility, but truthfully, if you’re rocking this thing, you’re probably a masked superhero fighting crime by day and attending fundraisers at night. And at that point — who cares what time it is?
Prefer something a bit more avant-garde in your tourbillons? Ok, we get that. How about this new Flying Tourbillon Openworked with an insane, bright blue 41mm ceramic and 18K white gold case housing a hand-wound, skeletonized movement? Limited to just 50 pieces, this wildly cool reference features a blue ceramic midcase, a blue minute track, and a blue, rubber-coated strip lined with calfskin leather. 18K pink gold hands and pink gold accents on the movement add small burst of contrast, but the Calibre 2948 is the real star of the show: Composed of several layers, it features an openworked mainplate and bridges, multiple finishes, and 196 different parts. Feel like showing off a bit, but not in a gaudy way? This is the watch to do it with.
A new 37 mm version of the 39 mm “Jumbo” AP Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin RD#3, which debuted earlier this year, has been released in a snazzy purple dial, in case you need extra emphasis that you own one. This marks the first time a flying tourbillon has been introduced in a smaller millimeter size thanks to the ultra-thin Caliber 2968, which took five years to develop and measures 3.4 mm thick. The new sizing and color (the 39 mm version comes in a Navy dial) will appeal to an entirely new audience—both those with smaller wrist sizes and those who simply prefer watches that wear a touch smaller. Rest assured, these won’t be available for long.
Speaking of superheroes, the Royal Oak Concept actually is a superhero’s watch; AP partnered with Marvel on the AP Black Panther edition of its futuristic tourbillon timepiece back in April of 2021. The latest version, however, is somewhat more subdued, featuring a green ceramic bezel, crown, and pushers paired to a green rubber strap. The 44mm titanium case architecture, with its contemporary, sandblasted aesthetic and highly faceted design, remains, while the black, hand-wound Calibre 2954 provides a GMT complication in addition to a tourbillon, plus a function selector and an impressive 10-day power reserve via twin barrels. Looking like a military watch from the future, the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT is a complicated masterwork from a maison that’s constantly pushing the design envelope.

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Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Minute Repeater

Though frequently alluded to, the history of chiming watches at Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Minute Repeater is a subject that’s well worth restating. The family of Jules Audemars – including the eponymous co-founder’s father and grandfather – had substantial experience working on these complications: so much so that during the 19th century, historians estimate around half the watches at AP were commissioned with minute repeaters.
Initially, as was then customary for most emerging manufactures in the Vallée de Joux, AP crafted chiming watches for an assortment of commercial clients. In 1892, the brand famously created the world’s first ever minute-repeating wristwatch at the behest of Louis Brand & Frère (today, better known as Omega). AP’s business of wholesaling chiming watches – invaluable in the years before widespread adoption of electricity – continued until 1925, at which time the company released its first self-branded minute repeater.
Understandably, in the years following and immediately prior to WWII, development of chiming watches at AP went through a spate of inactivity. In a wry twist several decades later, it was the impact of the Quartz Crisis that encouraged the company to redouble its focus on striking watches – one of the few areas in traditional horology where quartz technology held no advantage. Today, the fruit borne from this brave gamble (to double down on chiming complications) can be gleaned in segment-leading models like the Royal Oak Supersonnerie.

The 1990s proved to be a pivotal time, as AP labored obsessively to perfect its (already considerable) acumen in the design and manufacture of striking mechanisms. During that era, the company’s watchmakers successfully miniaturized the repeater enough for it to be combined with the perpetual calendar and chronograph; and in 1992, consolidated that knowledge by acquiring the specialist manufacturer Renaud & Papi. The latter’s expertise in advanced movement engineering paved the way for new watches of unprecedented complexity – including a grande sonnerie and minute repeater in the flagship Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Minute Repeater collection.
Our pick today owes as much to the Jules Audemars models of the 1990s as it does heritage watchmaking at AP. Ostensibly an “homage” to the company’s inaugural minute repeating wristwatch (released in 1892) this Ref. 26356 could more aptly be described as a comprehensive ‘rethink’: showcasing an openworked architecture that has been built from the ground up to accommodate an additional ‘jumping hour’ complication.
Despite being a design most of us would comfortably categorize as ‘neo-vintage’ (originally released in 2007) the 26356 reconciles two schools of aesthetic thinking that you don’t often see portrayed side-by-side at AP in modern day. Traditionally, the watches of the Jules Audemars collection were all about classicism: channelling orthodox good looks through the prism of high horology in a package that wouldn’t look out of place during the eponymous founder’s heyday.
When the collection began to gel together in the 1990s, all of the major design elements were unerringly traditional: cases were round, bezels were smooth, and dials were often decorated in a manner that recalled the brand’s pocket watches. The genius of this particular model is in how it manages to preserve those aesthetic hallmarks, whilst incorporating a movement that feels reminiscent of AP’s modern skeletonized offering.
The Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Minute Repeater watch’s form factor is very much in keeping with its age: featuring a 43mm case of platinum that recalls the public’s widespread fixation during the late 2000s with large, undeniably impactful watches. Other details – ergo the minute hand, railway-style tracks and baroque typeface – will appear familiar to enthusiasts of heritage watchmaking, yet none of these detract from the very graphic punchiness of the movement: a kind of vast, whirring diorama that reminded me of other powerhouses famed for the artfulness with which they approach movement construction. In that regard, I’d have no problem placing the Calibre 2907 on the same pedestal as the work of Journe or Stephen Forsey.
Even by today’s standards, many of the choices employed in the manufacturing and decoration of this movement (the cal. 2907) feel relevant – a considerable achievement when you remember this was a non-Royal Oak reference, a relic from the decade better known for siring the original iPhone. The movement’s dial-facing side displays a level of finishing that would be rare in any context: consisting of 9 spur-like bridges – every single one polished and bevelled – which, when taken together, suggest the image of petals. Meanwhile, the heure sautante (‘jumping hours’) disc is machined from sapphire: a technique now widely adopted among high-end watchmakers which imbues the numerals (applied on top) with the appearance of levitation. Imagine if you will – and I apologize for butchering my metaphors – peering into a grand old Georgian townhouse and finding it populated with the intricate panels of Jack Kirby – gaze at this watch for even a handful of seconds, and that’s the sensation you’ll get.

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Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding

A new line of AP watches is making waves and for good reasons. Let’s get up-close-and-personal with the new Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 Selfwinding 41mm in this detailed review. Today we will look at a striking new collection of AP watches that is getting many watch enthusiasts excited. Piece-by-piece we will analyze it and give it a detailed and honest review. We’ll begin with the most looked-at feature of the watch which is the dial. Let’s get started, shall we?
This model has a striking lacquered smoked grey gradient dial that has a fine radial brush sunburst pattern. The dial has an inner bezel that has a black lacquered finish. On this inner bezel, each of the 5-minute intervals uses a small white printed font for the numerals on the minutes’ track and is separated by finely printed index-style second markers. On the inner dial, the polished applied hour markers are in bold Arabic-styled font for the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. These four appliqué numerals are separated by applied and beveled index hour markers. A date aperture is located between the 4 and 5 o’clock position.

On the watch model depicted here, the hands are made of the same polished rose gold as the numerals and hour markers, as is the Audemars Piguet logo at the 12 o’clock position. The topography of the dial is something for which Audemars Piguet is famous. Their logo, for example, uses a chemical process known as galvanic growth which uses many thin layers of gold to achieve what appears to be similar to a 3-D printed logo in solid gold. The dial is covered by a unique double glare-proofed curved sapphire crystal that allows for enhanced visibility and clarity. It is arched with a specific profile shape to create a unique optical experience that combines, perspective, depth, and light.
The model featured here has a unique two-tone sandwich construction and design that combines 18kt white gold and 18kt rose gold. The case combines brushed and polished finishing on the outer and inner layers of the sandwich case. A polished and chamfered edge of the dial, brushed reverse side, curved lugs, and sides. What makes CODE 11.59 unique is the combinations of different geometric shapes together in its construction. The outer white gold layer has a round shape while the inner pink gold layer has a polygonal shape reminiscent of the case of AP’s famous and iconic Royal Oak watches. The diameter is 41mm, the thickness is 10.7mm and it has a water resistance rating of 30m/100ft. A polished and brushed winding crown can be found on the right side of the case and it is notched to allow for an enhanced grip with the AP logo engraved on the flat brushed edge of the crown.
A polished finish is used on the bevel around the chamfered edge of the case back and the screw holes on the caseback which has a flat profile with a brushed finish. The edge of the clear case back is decorated with numerous inscriptions that include an engraving of the CODE 11.59 logo, the words “by Audemars Piguet”, the serial number, and a few additional smaller symbols.
The self-winding Audemars Piguet Calibre 4302 that powers this watch is a self-winding movement with a 22-carat gold oscillating weighted winding rotor. The 32-jewel movement has 257 components has a frequency of 4Hz or 28,800 vibrations per hour and provides an impressive power reserve of 70 hours on a full wind. The 4302 also features an instantaneous jumping date.

The movement is beautifully finished starting with the intricately decorated, embossed, and engraved rose gold rotor. The other visible plates that appear through the transparent sapphire case back use Geneva striping with a polished beveled edge. Certain inscriptions and engravings can be found in rose gold on the AP 4302 movement including the logo, the words ‘Swiss Made’, the number of jewels.
The luxurious leather strap uses large square scale alligator leather which is stitched by hand. The strap is fastened to the watch with a brushed 18kt white gold pin buckle.
The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding watch collection is filled with great promise for the future. The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Automatic 41mm watch featured in this article uses a new movement, one of the 6 next-generation AP movements in fact. In this new family of watches, you will find time-only calibers as well as more complex mechanical marvels. These include high complications with the Calibre 2948 that has an openworked flying tourbillon, the Calibre 5134 which features a perpetual calendar that automatically adjusts for shorter months and adds a day to the month of February every time that it’s a leap year, and last but not least, the Calibre 2953 which features a minute repeater Supersonnerie that chimes louder when it’s on the wrist rather than off the wrist.

Is this model the best of all the models that we’ve seen this year? That’s hard to say. There have been many nice limited edition watches that may come before this one. However, for the price, the available features, and the design, it’s certainly a great watch from one of the most prestigious brands and it will certainly show your great taste in watchmakers and watch syle.

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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph

While it’s safe to say that Audemars Piguet’s SIHH was somewhat tumultuous, it wasn’t without its more crowd-pleasing fare. Among a handful of new Royal Oak expressions, we find what might be the most well balanced and sweet-on-wrist of the lot, the new 38mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph. While perhaps not a surprise offering from the house of the Royal Oak, this all-new model retains the charm of the standard Royal Oak while adding an automatic chronograph in a trio of colorways that sing on wrist.
I think that, provided you’re into the general vibe of a Royal Oak, these new 38mm chronographs are really really good. Offered in pink gold with a silver-white dial or steel in either a silver-on-grey dial or a blue-on-white/white panda dial, the three combinations offer something a bit sporty, a bit more reserved, or a bit more boss (ok, a lot more boss).

At 38mm across with screw-down pushers, 50m water resistance, and an automatic movement, the case is only 11mm thick and the whole package feels solid, thoughtful, and undeniably fun. Also available in a 41mm version that has been around for some time, while 41mm isn’t exactly large in the modern watch game, these new models err closer to the Royal Oak’s spiritual home of 39mm and, for my wrist and eyes, feel better proportioned than the larger version.
Despite dropping those three millimeters, the new 38mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph still employs the same movement that is used in the larger RO chronograph (and also many past models), the Selfwinding Caliber 2385. Based on the Frédéric Piguet 1185, this column-wheel chronograph movement features an integrated design, a rate of 3 Hz, and 40 hours of power reserve.
For those reading this and finding it hard to see the appeal, there is something so special, so right, about a Royal Oak on wrist. If you can, swing by an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph boutique and try on a few examples. I honestly didn’t fully understand the draw until I tried on a solid gold 5402 (now it’s a grail). And while I’m not at all a chronograph guy, the chrono display nestles so nicely into the “Grande Tapisserie” dial on these 38mm chronographs that I almost don’t mind the date at 4:30. Almost.
The grey/silver is low key, the blue on white/silver is sporty and really good, but you know your boy is all about the solid pink gold version with the white/silver dial. Priced at $23,800 in steel and $52,700 in gold, the new Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph is little more than a re-working of the Royal Oak proportions but it’s a strong example of less being more (even in solid gold).

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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin RD#3, reference 26670ST.OO.1240ST.01 (if you can keep 20-character alphanumeric reference numbers in short- and long-term memory, bless you, because I can’t) landed with maybe a little less impact than it deserved when it launched last April. There are probably several reasons why. First of all, I think a lot of us were still suffering from a bit of Royal Oak overload from the announcement of the ref. 16202 Jumbo when it launched in January, along with several other models (including a non-Jumbo flying tourbillon). Secondly, the Jumbo Tourbillon RD#3 appeared in the context of a larger world in which Bulgari more or less owns the community mindshare of ultra-thin self-winding tourbillons.
As astonishing as that might have been a couple of decades ago, there is little doubt that in 2022, it’s tough to make a splash with an ultra-thin tourbillon unless you have managed to unseat Bulgari. And not only is no brand challenging them, nobody even seems inclined to try. It’s telling, though, that to set their record, Bulgari had to unseat Audemars Piguet, and moreover, an AP watch that dropped back in 1986: The AP caliber 2870 self-winding tourbillon, which reigned as the undisputed champion of ultra-thin automatic tourbillons for over three decades until Bulgari came out with the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, in 2018. While there’s no gainsaying Bulgari’s technical achievements, AP’s new Royal Oak Tourbillon does represent what is probably the single longest lineage in horology of automatic tourbillon wristwatches.
For many years, Audemars Piguet has been using basically the same tourbillon – that is, the same cage, balance, and escapement, as well as the same upper tourbillon bridge – in all of its tourbillon watches. The bridge has a distinctive, inverted “V” shape, and the cage has three arms, with a free sprung balance fitted with poising and timing screws on its outer edge. Minus the upper bridge, this is the same tourbillon used as recently as the Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon 26730, launched in January of this year. It’s also the tourbillon used in the Code 11.59 collection’s automatic flying tourbillon chronograph.
The new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin RD#3, on the other hand, uses a new configuration for its tourbillon, and moreover places a flying tourbillon, for the first time, in a Jumbo case. The RD#3 has exactly the same dimensions as the Jumbo – 39mm x 8.1mm.
To get a flying tourbillon into the Jumbo case, AP had to develop a new tourbillon movement. The Royal Oak Flying Tourbillons introduced earlier this year use the AP caliber 2950, which is 31.5mm x 6.24mm, and it has a larger case than RD#3, at 41mm x 10.6mm. The RD#3, on the other hand, uses the caliber 2968 – a smaller movement, at 29.6mm x 3.4mm, which is considerably flatter than the 2950. For comparison, Bulgari’s caliber BVL 288, used in the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, is 1.95mm thick, but it’s also larger in diameter than AP’s caliber 2968, at 36.60mm which is getting into smaller pocket watch caliber territory. It’s sort of like squishing a jelly donut – you can flatten it but it’s going to spread out at the same time. This means that Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic has to be a little larger in diameter, at 41mm.
The AP caliber 2968 isn’t the flattest automatic tourbillon in the world, but you do have to bear in mind that unlike the BVL 288, it’s not a peripheral rotor caliber. Instead, it’s a full rotor movement, and it’s almost exactly the same size as the caliber 7121 used in the new 16202 Royal Oak, which is 29.6mm x 3.2mm. In fact, the caliber 2968 looks quite a lot like a re-engineered 7121, including the arrangement of the automatic winding train and the position and configuration of the mainspring barrel.
In order to fit the tourbillon cage into a Jumbo case, AP had to change several elements of the tourbillon cage from the classic version used in the caliber 2950 in the standard Royal Oak Selfwinding tourbillons. The caliber 2950 has an overcoil balance spring, while the newer caliber 2968 has a flat balance spring (most ultra-thin watches don’t have overcoil balance springs as the overcoil adds height). The balance in the 2968 has timing weights on the inside of the balance rim (in the 2950 they’re traditional weights on the outside of the rim) set flush with the rim. The balance arms have steps milled into them, which form a sort of recess that lets the balance spring sit closer to the balance – another height-saving measure.
One other notable difference is that while the 2950 uses conventional screws to fix the upper part of the tourbillon cage in place, the 2968 uses spline bolts, which usually take up less room than screws (although I’m not sure if this is the purpose here as I don’t have the dimensions for the bolts vs. the screws available). There are also cut-outs in the pillars of the tourbillon cage, which provide extra clearance for the balance rim, allowing AP to use a larger balance (this is also one of the benefits of the internal flat-rim weights). Finally, the tourbillon cage is driven via gear teeth on its outer edge. This is a so-called peripherally driven tourbillon. A traditional tourbillon carriage is driven via a pinion on the underside of the cage. Driving the cage directly from its edge produces a savings in height as well. As we’ve said, the caliber 2968 is not the world’s flattest automatic tourbillon, but at 3.4mm thick, it’s pretty damned flat for a full rotor automatic tourbillon – to get any thinner than that you have to start using either a micro-rotor or a peripheral rotor. Before Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo automatic tourbillon came along, the thinnest automatic tourbillon (after the AP 2870) was the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Thin Automatic 5377, whose movement has a peripheral rotor and is 3mm thick (and again, it’s very wide at 36.10mm). Looked at in context, AP’s ability to make a full rotor automatic flying tourbillon which is only 0.4mm thicker than a much wider recent record-holder with a peripheral rotor starts to look a lot more interesting.
And aesthetically? What can I tell you, it’s a Jumbo, 39mm x 8.1mm, with that lovely Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 dial. The only classic Jumbo element missing from the RD#3 Jumbo Tourbillon is the AP logo at six o’clock, but it seems a reasonable thing to lose if you’re going to have an open dial flying tourbillon. If you like the Jumbo, you’re probably going to like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin RD#3, unless the idea of an open dial flying tourbillon is just not your brand of vodka. Comparing ultra-thin automatic tourbillons can be a little tricky – it helps to know the history of the complication and it also helps to understand that a full rotor movement compared to a peripheral rotor movement is fair on one hand, but on the other hand it’s also a little bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison. Seen from that perspective, RD#3 is a beautiful, very well-thought-out piece of contemporary watchmaking.