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A Timepiece That Subverts the History of Forms in Watchmaking

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore

Courtesy of Audemars PiguetAudemars Piguet Code 11:59 watch.

21st-century watchmaking is often a reflection of horology’s respectful obsession with its historical milestones — whether in terms of mechanical virtuosity or design engineering. Today’s boom in vintage watches, as well as new models paying tribute to its classic timepieces, has exacerbated the industry’s tendency to repeat its history. But consider Audemars Piguet’s Code 11.59 collection.

Since introducing the Royal Oak collection, the brand has rose to an important position in modern watchmaking, transforming an unpopular shape into an iconic design — the watch bezel fashioned into an octagonal shape held down by eight hexagonal screws. To balance the name weight of the “Royal Oak” or the “Royal Oak Offshore” from the brand, Audemars Piguet launched its Code 11.59 collection in 2019, a contrasting lithesome watch which invited polarising reviews at first.

The watch, however, is a technical marvel upon closer observation, featuring a host of new movements, including Audemars Piguet’s first in-house self-winding movement. This year, the Swiss luxury house affirms its commitment to its Code 11:59 collection by releasing face-lifted versions of the watch models. The clutter-free watches are treated with the increasingly popular smoked, gradient dials. Except, Audemars Piguet is offering five different colours (light grey, dark grey, burgundy, purple, and blue) with a radially brush finish in enamel, which is a crafting ingenuity given the galvanic effects of the base metal dial.

The new collection that comes with self-winding and self-winding chronograph versions paid subtle tribute to the Audemars Piguet’s iconic geometric form with an octagonal case sandwiched between its rounded bezel. As a brand that has been reimagining the classic codes of watchmaking since the aughts, the Code 11.59 model represents a new body of its contemporary spirit, tastefully hidden in the details.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 watch, price on request.