As we all know, the Code 11.59 collection has generated a great deal of comment following its presentation at SIHH 2019. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge and the situation is now much calmer. I think we need to analyze the situation from a pragmatic point of view. Even though obviously the Code 11.59 collection is not as popular as the various Royal Oak references, my sixth sense tells me that it still works better than what I've been told. Let's not lose sight of the fact that Audemars Piguet's goal was to make its business performance less dependent on Royal Oak alone. I don't know the exact contribution of the Code 11.59 Collection to total revenue, but if I combine sales of this collection with those of the Millenary collection (which is finding interesting growth thanks to its feminine clientele) and with those of Fine Jewelry, I am convinced that the share thus obtained is far from negligible.
One of my favorite Code 11.59 watches, the new chronograph with burgundy dial:
Moreover, Audemars Piguet did not remain inactive, and the brand decided to evolve its Code 11.59 collection one year after its introduction. This is a purely aesthetic evolution, and it's quite logical: no one disputed the mechanical interest of these watches, particularly in the context of the three hands and chronograph powered by a brand new generation of automatic calibers such as the 4302 and 4401 movements.
The criticisms were focused on the dial. On a personal note, having had the opportunity to wear the automatic Code 11.59 with a white dial for several weeks, I found the watch very well made with an efficient movement and an attractive case but the dial seemed too quiet to me because of its empty zones. The size of the numerals and the simplicity of the stick hands gave the feeling that the aesthetic approach was too uniform and consensual despite the shape of the flange which created a relief and decreased the opening of the dial. The good news is that Audemars Piguet worked on these specific points and gave much more energy to its dials while retaining the numerals, indexes and hands.
The versions with grey dials (light or dark) have a two-tone case:
I can easily understand why Audemars Piguet chose not to modify them. The collection was introduced last year, its identity is being forged, and changing such elements would have been an admission of failure and would have been confusing, especially for customers who acquired a Code 11.59 a year ago. But when a difficulty arose, Audemars Piguet seized the opportunity. A few weeks ago, the brand presented a dozen references of new models featuring lacquered dials with a sunburst pattern in smoky tones and a broader range of bold, vivid colors.
The formula works very well. The colors were very well chosen (light gray, dark gray, blue, burgundy and purple) because they represent a good mix between rather classic and traditional shades and other more unexpected ones. It is the automatic Code 11.59 that takes the best advantage of these new colors: the dial becomes much more animated thanks to the multiple gradations and reflections and the simplicity of the hands is here an asset. Moreover, the grey dial references are accompanied by two-tone cases that also contribute to this more dynamic and refined style. Two colors have my preference: the dark gray dial which ideally matches the two-tone case and the burgundy dial, available with a white gold case, which is truly seductive. The version with the light grey dial seemed to me to be a rather feminine watch. As for the versions with purple and blue dials, they are certainly the most spectacular and their pink gold case makes them more warm and precious. However, I would be more afraid to get bored of these versions than of the one with the burgundy dial.
The 4302 caliber:
The same combinations are found with the Code 11.59 Chronograph. So I keep similar feelings and my favorite dials are the same. In any case, even if the dial was originally much fuller, the aesthetic evolution proves to be convincing here too.
For the rest, the technical specificities of the watches remain the same. For three-hand watches, the diameter is 41mm for a thickness of 10.7mm. The size is rather important but the lugs are drawn with care and the case fits well on the wrist. The 4302 caliber offers interesting performances with a power reserve of 70 hours for a frequency of 4hz and an instant jump date. Its large size (32mm) and the quality of its presentation, magnified by the beautiful winding mass make it attractive when we look at it from the back of the watch. It is a movement that I appreciate and which is distinguished by a better controlled winding efficiency than the 3120, which tended to wind up very quickly.
The 4401 caliber and its more open oscillating weight:
Concerning the Chronograph watches, the diameter is also 41mm for a thickness of 12.6mm. The 4401 caliber also has a power reserve of 70 hours for a frequency of 4hz and the instant jump date. Note that the chronograph is flyback which is a plus. The presentation of the movement is attractive with nice depth effects, a successful integration of the column wheel and a more open oscillating weight.
In any case, Audemars Piguet has been able to revitalize its Code 11.59 collection thanks to this aesthetic approach. The watches gain in energy and leave aside their overly consensual and controlled style for a more engaged, more clinging style that is ultimately more exciting. The Code 11.59 collection gains a lot through this risk-taking, which does not surprise me. I would also like to remind you that difficult contexts such as the ones we are going through are conducive to daring approaches: in times of crisis, customers, more than ever, want to have fun and enjoy themselves with dynamic and exciting watches. If watches cause boredom, why buy them? That's why I salute Audemars Piguet's attitude of listening and responsiveness.
The blue dial is available with a pink gold case:
The Code 11.59 Automatic is available at a price of 28,900 euros and the Code 11.59 Chronograph at a price of 45,600 euros in France.