Audemars Piguet Code 11:59 selfwinding chronograph

When the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet timepieces first came out in 2019, enthusiasts and collectors were equal parts confused and intrigued. The collection boldly tackled a new design language and the floating open lugs and unique case architecture divided opinions.

Audemars Piguet CEO Francois-Henry Bennahmias called it “the biggest launch [of the brand] since 1972” – the year it unveiled the Royal Oak. It was also certainly one of the largest with a whopping 13 timepieces in the original line-up.

A closer look at the black ceramic middle case of the Selfwinding Chronograph.
A closer look at the black ceramic middle case of the Selfwinding Chronograph.

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Forging A Path Of Its Own

Two years on, the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection is coming into its own and garnering dedicated fans along the way. Its latest is the two-tone Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm in an 18K pink or white gold caseback with a stunning octagonal black ceramic middle case.

To produce this, the team had to push the limits of watchmaking to combine the middle case with a gold bezel, caseback and lugs. Perfecting the case also called for the watchmaker to work with Bangerter, a Swiss family-owned company specialising in super hard materials.

Creating the case is an industrial masterclass. First, the watchmaker combined zirconium oxide with a secret binder content before shaping the blend with a CNC (computer numerical control) machine. Once this is complete, the binder is removed and the remaining component is sintered at about 1,400 deg C. As sintering shrinks the ceramic material by a quarter, the team has to be precise with the measurements. From there, precision diamond tools hard-machine the component. In the last step, experts finish the case by hand.

This task is made more complicated by the difficulty of matching the smoky dark grey dial’s vertical satin finish with the satin brushing on the middle case. Throw in the rounded gold components and you have a bit of a watchmaker’s nightmare.

But Audemars Piguet rose to the challenge, creating a timepiece that combines bold aesthetics with uncompromising craftsmanship.

(Related: Meet the winner of the fifth Audemars Piguet Art Commission, Phoebe Hui)

The Calibre 4401 that powers the Selfwinding Chronograph.
The Calibre 4401 that powers the Selfwinding Chronograph.

The new Calibre 4401, which boasts a power reserve of 70 hours and 30m water resistance, powers the timepiece. A matching black rubber-coated strap with a textured motif complements the finish of that black middle case.

The Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm showcases a myriad of possibilities for a watchmaker that ventures beyond its comfort zone and continues pushing boundaries despite naysayers. This takes a lot of guts and Audemars Piguet certainly has a lot of that.

The Royal Oak drew a lot of detractors when it was first launched before becoming a classic. We believe that Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet might just follow the same trajectory. Discover more here.

(Related: Watch collector and entrepreneur Alfred Chua shares his passion for all things Audemars Piguet)