Audemar Piguet’s 50th-anniversary celebrations of the Royal Oak’s debut have focused fans of haute horlogerie on the brand’s most iconic watch. And why not? It’s a modern design classic and why AP, along with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, is one of the big three of high-end watchmaking. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Royal Oak is the Swiss watchmaker’s only collection, but in 2019 it launched the Code 11.59 series, a line of watches that married classic round cases with the signature octagon of the Royal Oak. Fast forward to 2022 and AP has doubled down on this controversial collection. The new Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon brilliantly showcases this bold new architecture and is an ideal introduction to the collection.
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Despite being marketed as an exploration of purity, the Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon model is a complex watch that for the first time combines gold, ceramic and onyx into one package. The result is stunning and brings together a variety of materials, design elements and watchmaking knowledge.
The case presents two design styles, with the first featuring a traditional rounded case crafted from 18K white gold. This contrasts with an octagonal case middle honed from black ceramic, a clear nod to the Royal Oak DNA that is central to the brand. It offers a wonderful two-tone effect made possible by AP’s collaboration with the experts at Bangeter – a Swiss family-owned business that specialises in advanced ceramics.
That attention to detail and the use of third-party specialists continues with the stone dial – designed with purity and simplicity in mind. Given pride of place, the dial is fashioned from a single black onyx stone by the craftsmen of AP’s long-term partner Someco. The distinctive case and natural stone dial give the watch a refined and elegant aesthetic while retaining something of AP’s house style.
Of course, this beautiful exterior is all housing for an advanced mechanical movement that boasts a flying tourbillon complication. The tourbillon cage is visible through both the dial and the sapphire case back and the effect is hypnotizing. The watch successfully blends white gold with black onyx and graceful curves with straight lines. The minimalist dial layout gives a view of the advanced mechanics of the movement, offering another successful contrast. There’s no doubt that Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet remains a controversial collection that diverges from the Royal Oak stable. But this new addition is a treat for fans of high-end watchmaking and has to be worth a closer look.
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Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon
Case: Black Ceramic and18-Carat White Gold
Movement: Audemars Piguet Selfwinding Calibre 2950
Bracelet: Black Rubber-coated with 18-carat White Gold Clasp
Water Resistance: 20M
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