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25 October 2023
The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection sees a radical evolution this year with the introduction of a new case size for the smaller wrists, its first models in stainless steel and a new signature dial design.
All teams involved had to push their savoir-faire to the limit to give life to these new timepieces seamlessly blending technical complexity with ergonomics and aesthetic beauty.
Audemars Piguet has launched a new 38 mm diameter in the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection, with two 18-carat pink gold timepieces in ivory or purple hues. Merging creativity with technical complexity, this new case size has been designed to sit comfortably on the smaller wrists.
Featuring a multifaceted curved architecture composed of stylised lugs, an extra-thin bezel, an octagonal case middle and a round caseback, the case of the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet is one of the most complicated ever made by the Manufacture.
The proportions of this intricate three-part case had to be entirely revisited to give life to this smaller diameter, while retaining its aesthetic harmony. The proportions of the double curved sapphire crystal was also rethought. This complex glass, whose internal surface is shaped like a dome, while its external surface is vertically curved from 6 to 12 o'clock, offers a unique optical experience onto the dial.
The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection welcomes its first 41 mm models in stainless steel, a contemporary material far less malleable than gold. The Manufacture was able to draw upon its machining and finishing expertise to design and produce the complex architecture of the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet case in this new material.
Combining cutting-edge technology and ancestral traditions, the industrialisation of the case and the hand-finishing of its components require arduous programming, dedicated tools and highly specialised human skills. The designers, engineers and artisans have therefore pushed the limits of their know-how even further in order to create these steel elements. Four months were necessary for the development of the stainless steel bezel and stylised arched lugs which combine five different axes. The upper part of the steel lugs is welded to the extra-thin bezel with a soldering paste applied by hand, while the lower part leans delicately against the caseback in perfect alignment once the case is assembled.
In keeping with Audemars Piguet tradition, the stainless steel components alternate between polished and satin-finished surfaces, playing with the light and providing captivating visual effects. These meticulous finishing operations account for two and a half hours of work for the bezel and lugs alone.
The arrival of steel in the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection is part of the natural steps to establish this line for the future.
CEO Audemars Piguet
The general aesthetic of the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet has evolved this year to emphasise both ergonomics and legibility, while furthering the collection's interweaving of technical modernity and ancestral craftsmanship.
The steel stamping die used to craft the embossed dial of the new Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet models was hand-engraved by Swiss guilloché craftsman Yann van Kaenel.
The three-sided hands are diamond polished and filled with luminescent coating.
Some 30 operations were necessary to produce the ergonomic black ceramic crown seen on some of the new Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet models.
The Manufacture designed a new embossed dial made up of concentric circles moving outwards from the centre of the dial to provide a unique and textured ripple pattern enhancing plays of light. To create this unique motif, the Manufacture turned to Swiss guilloché craftsman Yann von Kaenel, who undertook the complex and meticulous task of creating the steel stamping die, which has been engraved by hand. Stamped onto the brass dial plate, this pattern of waves is decorated with hundreds of tiny holes toying with the light. With its myriad of raised and hollow details, this decoration pays tribute to the age-old craftsmanship perpetuated by this talented artisan. Each dial takes approximately 1.5 month to produce from stamping to colouring.
Audemars Piguet's design team also revisited the collection's hour-markers and hands to emphasise readability, while enhancing visual appeal. New elongated three-sided gold hour-markers replace the Arabic numerals that have been present in the collection since its launch. Both the hour-markers and hands are flattened, faceted and diamond-polished, creating a visual contrast with the new dial pattern. Furthermore, they have been filled with luminescent coating to enhance legibility in the dark. Hour-markers and hands are then fitted onto the dial by hand — a meticulous task taking approximately 45 minutes per dial.
The ergonomic design evolution seen on the new Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet models extends to the case with the introduction of a new rounder crown with shallower, yet more pronounced indentations for a better feel and a more elegant aesthetic. 100 hours of development were necessary to conceive this tiny component in black ceramic to complement the black ceramic case middle seen on the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Starwheel and on some of the newest Selfwinding and Selfwinding Chronograph models. While the exact composition of ceramic remains a well-kept secret, it is made of Zirconium Oxide powder (ZrO2) that is combined with special binding content. Its homogeneous colour reveals itself after 87 hours of debinding and 60 hours of sintering at more than 1000°C. The ceramic crown goes then through several finishing operations to reach the Manufacture's emblematic alternation of satin-brushed and polished surfaces.