Three New Audemars Piguet Code 11.59: Experimentation Done Right?

The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 has always been a controversial release. It’s easy to understand why. What are they? Dress watches? Yeah, maybe. A sports watch? No definitely not, but then why do they have rubber coated straps? The collection has carved out its own niche, which is commendable. Experimentation is laudable, but AP aren’t ones to do something simply for the sake of it. If anything, they’ve built the Code 11.59 collection as a platform for their own experiments. Their newest additions to the collection don’t lack for experimentation either.

The Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon

The most interesting of the three new watches (at least personally speaking) is the Ref. 26396NB.OO.D002KB.01. The 41mm case on this watch might look simple, but looks can be deceiving. It isn’t steel but brushed and polished 18k white gold with black ceramic sides. But it’s the dial that really takes the cake. Made from black polished onyx, the dial looks as deep as the Mariana Trench. The pink gold appears here on the baton hands and inner-bezel numerals and it looks absolutely deluxe. A very nice partner to the deep blacks.

The Calibre 2950 features a flying tourbillon with a 3 hz 21,600vph frequency. It has a beefy 65-hour power reserve.

The black rubber-coated strap does feature an 18k white gold AP folding clasp, but something about it just doesn’t sit right. It’s the material. If the strap were leather, it might seem to obvious, but black leather would have been perfect with this dial. Perhaps that is why AP have gone for something different, to think outside the box and pair different dials with unexpected materials. In this respect, the experiment hasn’t worked.

The Tourbillon Openworked

Would you pair a rubber-coated strap with a skeletonised dial? AP would. The limited edition Ref. 26600NB.OO.D346KB.01 has a familiar (and popular) colourway. But again, instead of steel paired with blue ceramic, it’s 18k white gold.

The dial consists of the AP Calibre 2948 and, naturally, it looks fantastic. A hand-finished, skeletonised movement that features a tourbillon. To get the blue colour, AP used an Atomic Layer Deposition process. To get the floating inner bezel to match they used a CVD coating. The movement has a power reserve of 72-hours.

This is appropriately loud and, somehow, the bracelet combo here works. Despite being something ultra-luxurious in concept, it doesn’t feel that way, it feels more casual. A casual skeletonised watch? The colourway and strap combo certainly help it feel this way, despite the fact that this definitely isn’t a casual watch.  

The Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph

The third is aiming to be far more opulent than the openworked tourbillon above. The Ref. 26399NR.OO.D002KB.01 features 18k pink gold that adorns the case and dial. There’s a kind of organised chaos present on the dial. It’s the gold, black, and pink colourway that when placed in very careful sections keep the chaos at bay. In the hands of a lesser watchmaker, this might be borderline illegible, but the inclusion of silver hands adds a necessary contrast to solve this issue.

Powered by the Calibre 2952 fitted with a flying tourbillon and a flyback chronograph complication. Peeking at the movement through the sapphire display caseback is a joy. The black and gold colourway continues. Considering how much technology is present in this watch, it’s impressive that it’s only 13.8mm thick. Still the thickest of the three, but it is squeezing far more into it so that’s impressive.

VIDEO: Is the Hublot Hate Justified?

Is the hate for Hublot justified? There are complaints of poor build quality, gimmicky designs, and the use of generic parts. All fair points, but is there anything to like about Hublot? What do they do well? Experimentation, for one. But is that enough? Let’s find out.

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