Audemars Piguet Introduces the Code 11.59 with Smoked Dials

Gradient-finish dials and two-tone cases.

When it was launched in 2019, the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet became the most-talked-about new releases of the year, and also of the most panned, largely for the way it was hyped before launch and the perceived plainness of the design.

But Audemars Piguet is undeterred and affirmed its commitment to the new collection with the launch of a face-lifted Code 11.59 Selfwinding and Chronograph, featuring new dials with a smoked, graduated-colour finish, along with a variant in a two-colour gold case.

The new Code 11.59 Selfwinding

Initial thoughts

The most frequent criticism against the Code 11.59 had to do with the rather bland dials of the base models. In contrast, the pricey, complicated models were the standouts of the collection, having fired enamel dials with a smoked finish (for the minute repeater and the flying tourbillon) or aventurine glass (for the perpetual calendar).

Audemars Piguet doubtlessly realised the appeal of the smoked enamel dial, and followed up with the Code 11.59 Bolshoi Limited Edition, which featured the same graduated, dark blue dial in enamel, but on a time-only watch. The downside of the enamel dial on the base model is a massive price premium of over 55%, or a bit over US$14,000.

Evidence that Audemars Piguet is receptive to feedback, the new dials for the Code 11.59 show how a slight tweak can completely change the visual impact of a watch. It’s highly probable that if the Code 11.59 had been launched with smoked dials in the first place, the reception would have been warmer.

The dials of the new versions possess pretty much the same look – they look far more compelling than the first generation – but are more affordable than the complicated models.

The 18k pink gold case with a regal, smoked purple dial

Same watch, new look

The new dials capitalise on the increasing popularity of gradient-finish dials, which were popularised by H. Moser & Cie. with its fumè dial finishes. Though Moser didn’t invent the smoked or degradè, it started the current fad for the look, which has become the brand’s signature.

Now Audemars Piguet is doing the same, with both the Code 11.59 Selfwinding and Selfwinding Chronograph models being offered in light grey, dark grey, burgundy, purple, and blue dials with a graduated finish that darkens to black towards the periphery, plus an additional reference with a pale-grey dial. Because the dials are metal with a galvanic finish, they also have a radially-brushed finish that is not possible with an enamel dial.

The time-and-date Selfwinding model benefits the most from the smoked finish with its expansive dial free of clutter, giving it maximum visual oomph.

The 18k white gold case highlights the richness of the smoked burgundy lacquer dial

Dial aside, the rest of the watch remains identical, with the multi-part, sandwich construction that’s a key feature of the Code 11.59.

Both the Selfwinding and Chronograph models are 41 mm, with the case drawing heavily from the Royal Oak, albeit in a subtle manner – the case middle is an octagon , in between the back and bezel. And the case is finished with a combination of brushed- and mirror-polish surfaces, echoing the finishes and geometric forms of Audemars Piguet’s most famous design. Notably, the lugs are only attached to the bezel, with the lower segment of the lug floating against the case back.

Case-wise, the most notable feature of the new variants is the two-tone case in white and pink gold. Available only with the versions having dark- or light-grey dials, the two-tone case was first seen in the Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked Only Watch made for the eponymous charity auction.

As with the Only Watch edition, the tasteful use of two-tone highlights the complexity of the case, something that is somewhat lost in the uniform case colour of the other versions.

A white gold bezel and case back matched with a pink gold case middle shows off the complex case architecture

Mechanically the new variants are unchanged, powered by the brand’s latest generation in-house movements. The Selfwinding is powered by the cal. 4302, while the the Selfwinding Chronograph contains the cal. 4401, both featuring a smart, robust construction as well as a 70-hour power reserve.

Key facts and price

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding
Ref. 15210CR.OO.A002CR.01 (smoked grey dial, two-tone case)
Ref. 15210CR.OO.A009CR.01 (grey dial, two-tone case)
Ref. 15210BC.OO.A068CR.01 (smoked burgundy dial, white gold case)
Ref. 15210OR.OO.A616CR.01 (smoked purple dial, pink gold case)
Ref. 15210OR.OO.A028CR.01 (smoked blue dial, pink gold case)

Case diameter: 41 mm
Height: 10.7 mm
Material: 18k gold
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 4302
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle

Availability: Only at Audemars Piguet boutiques
Price: 27,000 Swiss francs; or 39,900 Singapore dollars

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding Chronograph
Ref. 26393CR.OO.A002CR.01 (smoked grey dial, two-tone case)
Ref. 26393CR.OO.A009CR.01 (grey dial, two-tone case)
Ref. 26393BC.OO.A068CR.01 (smoked burgundy dial, white gold case)
Ref. 26393OR.OO.A616CR.01 (smoked purple dial, pink gold case)
Ref. 26393OR.OO.A028CR.01 (smoked blue dial, pink gold case)

Case diameter: 41 mm
Height: 12.6 mm
Material: 18k gold
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 4401
Functions: Flyback chronograph, hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle

Availability: Only at Audemars Piguet boutiques
Price: 42,600 Swiss francs; or 63,000 Singapore dollars

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Correction July 8, 2020: The Swiss franc prices in an earlier version of the story were incorrect and have been corrected.

Correction July 10, 2020: The dial options include light as well as dark grey, and not only dark grey as stated earlier.

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