Audemars Piguet’s Code 11.59 Collection

Audemars Piguet’s Code 11.59 collection was born in 2019 with a biblical-size bang. Thirteen total watches. Six different sub-collections, ranging from a three-hand with date to a minute repeater. Three brand-new in-house movements. An entirely new case. And more than 500 snark-filled comments on HODINKEE’s initial Introducing post. The bang was heard around the world, but it wasn’t entirely well-received.
There was a lot to take in that day, honestly too much to formulate an immediate coherent opinion. One of Swiss watchmaking’s most prestigious and oldest marques had launched an entirely new collection agnostic to the Royal Oak, the company’s flagship product. For better or worse, Audemars Piguet is the Royal Oak, and the Royal Oak is Audemars Piguet.So if it’s not a Royal Oak, then what exactly is the  Audemars Piguet’s Code 11.59 ?

Three years after its difficult debut, it feels like the Code 11.59 collection is finally starting to find its groove. Here are three of the steps Audemars Piguet took to get there.
So much of the negative discourse that surrounded the Code 11.59 launch was centered on the time-and-date Code 11.59, the simplest, entry-level model of the collection with a decidedly bland execution. The watch admittedly does not look much better today, but it was also never meant to be the hero of the collection.
There’s a reason AP launched Code 11.59 in so many different variants – it was to show off the flexibility of the case profile as a home for complications. Focusing on the three-hander was entirely missing the point, and by doing so, many people missed out on the biggest news of the Code 11.59 introduction (the development of a new in-house integrated automatic chronograph movement, the caliber 4400, AP’s first in-house chronograph). Yes, it’s AP’s fault for including it in the initial batch, but it’s understandable that it would have wanted to bring a more affordable execution to market.
Audemars Piguet has slowly rectified its early missteps. I can’t remember the last time it brought a new three-hander Code 11.59 reference to market, while AP has continually experimented with new complications and new formats for existing complicated models. Just look at the big news I reported on earlier this week – AP released three different Code 11.59 models that are, in my opinion, some of the best-looking examples yet.
There’s a pair of new flying tourbillon models, and they aren’t just empty tourbillon-laden vessels, they feature details such as an inky dial made of solid onyx stone and aesthetic tweaks such as no applied numerals. Don’t overlook the openworked model that highlights the insanely symmetrical movement architecture inside that’s decorated to the highest standards. (And did I mention the insane shade of blue on the bridges? Yeah. I think that’s pretty sweet.)

That same insane symmetry is found on the movement layout of the Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon Chronograph, a beast of a watch with a mirrored movement execution and flyback chronograph functionality.
There’s no  Audemars Piguet’s Code 11.59  Grande Sonnerie this time around (AP did that in 2020), but it’s amazing how much more complete these watches look compared to the somewhat pedestrian lacquer dial finish found on the first batch of Code 11.59 watches. Yes, the Flying Tourbillon and Openworked Flying Tourbillon were both included in the initial batch of Code 11.59 models from 2019 (the Tourbillon Chronograph hybrid also joined the collection in 2020), but the execution has only improved in the past three years. I mean, c’mon, how can you not drool over the wild two-tone bridges and insane depth perspective in the Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon Chronograph? If it came out of some independent workshop in the Vallée de Joux, collectors would be politely lining up around the block.
The solid onyx dial found on the newest Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon might have been the headline material out of the three references I covered last Wednesday, but the most significant material at play among all three models is ceramic. One of the benefits of the two-part Code 11.59 case design that AP made such a big deal about three years ago is the ability to use two different types of material in a single watch. All three of the new Code 11.59 references use an inner ceramic case in the shape of an octagon (Code 11.59’s sole reference to the Royal Oak) encapsulated by an 18k white or pink gold lug cage. The result is aesthetically very interesting, resulting in an unexpected take on two-tone, through the application of the extra-hard inner ceramic case that protects the movement and the precious metal bezel, lugs, and caseback.
Two of the three new Code 11.59 watches that were released last week feature a black ceramic inner case, but the Flying Tourbillon Openworked has a bright blue ceramic inner case that is the result of the same blue ceramic process found in the blue-ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar that Danny went Hands-On with last week. Colored ceramic is quite a bit more difficult to achieve than black-and-white ceramic; it wasn’t until the early 2010s that the sintering process was figured out to achieve colors such as blue, red, and green. Of course, these inner cases are hand-decorated, featuring satin-brushed central areas with polished chamfers.
Although AP does decorate the ceramic material itself, it works with a supplier to produce the material. (Which is no surprise – very, very few Swiss watch brands produce ceramic themselves. The only ones I’m aware of are Rolex and maybe Hublot.) AP works with a company called Bangerter which utilizes a proprietary process that combines zirconium oxide power with an undisclosed binding agent. The binding agent is removed before the start of the sintering process but after a five-axis CNC machine has shaped the unique octagonal shape of the inner case. The blue shade (and hardness) of the ceramic material eventually comes after it’s been heated to approximately 1,400 degrees Celsius.

It seems, then, that Audemars Piguet and Bangerter are able to withstand the heat.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph 41 Ceramic

The hottest luxury watch on the planet is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

Ah, but which Royal Oak? Which one is the most interesting and collectible of all the contemporary, current-production models? My nominee is the ceramic-cased Royal Oak QP.

It features everything that makes a “conventional” (if there is such a thing) Royal Oak so damn good – namely the grande tapisserie dial, the thin profile, the integrated bracelet that’s a work of art unto itself, and of course, the octagonal bezel – but the ceramic-cased RO QP pushes it all to the max. The use of state-of-the-art colored ceramic for the case and bracelet means the entire package is bolder, more recognizable, and more scratch-proof than ever before.

At the same time, inside, the ultra-thin caliber 5134 is able to balance the seemingly disparate realm of the highly technical and the supremely slim, in superlative fashion. Ben was absolutely right when, in 2017, he introduced the inaugural ceramic Royal Oak QP by saying, “I’m calling it right here and right now, this is the hottest watch of SIHH 2017.” Five years later, during the Royal Oak’s ongoing 50th anniversary, the watch is still causing temperatures to rise.
That’s because, earlier today, Audemars Piguet quietly unveiled another scorcher. Following 2017’s original blacked-out ceramic RO QP and the white-ceramic sequel that came two years later, AP has released a new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar (ref. 26579CS.OO.1225CS.01) via its official brand website – and this one comes in blue (!) ceramic for the very first time. Is anyone else sweating or is it just me?

The new, blue Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is mostly identical to its predecessors, sharing an identical ultra-thin self-winding movement (caliber 5134) and case profile (41mm × 9.5mm), with the only major updates coming in the form of the high-tech blue ceramic case and the matching blue color of the grande tapisserie dial. But given how coveted the black and white ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars have become, this one still rates as a big deal.
Details on the new release are currently fairly scarce (in this case, what you see is what we see), but considering the high-profile nature of many of the known owners of previous ceramic RO QPS, it’s safe to say it’s a watch that will land on the wrists of many of AP’s best clients. We’ve previously spotted Draymond Green rocking his white-ceramic example, and everyone from UK rapper Stormzy, French actor Omar Sy, American comedian Kevin Hart, and Norwegian DJ Kygo have been seen with a touch of ceramic on their wrist.
The Royal Oak turns 50 this year, and we’ve already had one hell of a party. Remember the new “Jumbo,” ref. 16202? That was only announced to the world in January of this year. Karl Lagerfeld’s Royal Oak came up for auction, and so did Gérald Genta’s. We took a close look at the Royal Oak A2, the oldest known example of the original 15202 reference, and then we went ahead and broke open the entire history of the watch in the latest episode of Reference Points. There’ve already been so many memorable moments dedicated to the Royal Oak this year, and yet today’s announcement might just be my favorite.
The Royal Oak has always been controversial. The original 1972 design was just so incredibly, inherently subversive for its era, and somehow a half-century later I find that it continues to stand alone in the luxury sport-watch segment, surrounded by a sea of pretenders. In my view, not a single competitor has come close to channeling both virility and elegance in the same package to the same degree. And the blue-ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar brings out the best of both of those qualities, combining the ultra-hard ceramic material and aggressive styling with the same high-grade movement and the same delicate brushing and polishing of the case and bracelet that Royal Oak collectors expect.

It’s hard not to see a watch like this as a certain type of pinnacle for the Royal Oak anniversary. There’s a futuristic material that’s incredible difficult to work, now combined with one of the most traditional and elaborate complications, all inside of a genuinely iconic package.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph

Audemars Piguet just announced three new variations of the Code 11.59 collection, demonstrating the Swiss watchmaker’s dedication to the line as it celebrates the Royal Oak’s 50th anniversary. The three different just-released Code 11.59 watches all iterate aesthetically on existing Code 11.59 models in dramatically different ways.

The new Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked features a blue ceramic case that’s encompassed by an 18-karat white gold bezel, lugs
and caseback. The movement inside is the hand-wound openworked tourbillon-equipped caliber 2948, which has been comprehensively decorated in numerous shades of blue through a chemical process known as Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). It’s surrounded by an interior rehaut that’s been blued through chemical vapor deposition (CVD, rather than PVD), while the long, thin handset is made of solid 18-karat pink gold and the balance wheel is executed in a matching gold tone.
The architecture of the caliber 2948, newly executed in the bright blue hue, is completely unique and almost irresistible in its boldness. The movement measures just 3.65mm in height, which means the impressive sense of three-dimensionality the movement conveys is almost magical.

Slightly less complicated but just as visually compelling is the new Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon with a black ceramic central case, an 18-karat white gold bezel and lugs, and a rich dark dial made of solid black onyx. The big news on this model, for those who have followed the 11.59 series since its 2019 debut, is that AP decided to kill off the applied hour markers on the dial, allowing the stone dial material to move to center stage.

AP worked with the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based dial maker Someco to carve the dial out of a single black onyx stone. The dial is first cut into a thin disc, ground, sanded, and polished before ending up in the two-tone case. Each dial is naturally unique, which means that there is potentially endless room for aesthetic variation. The Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon with a black onyx dial is not a limited edition release.
Finally, the most complicated release of the day, the new Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph, is focused almost entirely on executing a comprehensive two-tone design. Featuring a combination of black ceramic and 18-karat pink gold throughout the case and (almost nonexistent) dial, the new hybrid chronograph-tourbillon watch is really, more than anything, a showcase for the powerhouse movement inside.

Opting for Audemars Piguet caliber 2952, the watch features two of the most complicated creations out there – a flying tourbillon and a flyback chronograph. The overall movement architecture features highly openworked bridges in both black and pink-gold tones, with AP’s watchmakers noting specifically that a total of 111 V-angles on the movement were sandblasted, satin-finished, and polished by hand. The entire decoration is said to have taken over 70 total hours of work to complete.
The original batch of six Code 11.59 models released by Audemars Piguet on the eve of SIHH 2019 was a touch too baroque for my personal design sensibilities, but I’ve greatly appreciated the offbeat and colorful directions the collection has gone since then. Remember the Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie? Today’s releases fall more into the latter camp: electric blue skeletons, blacked-out dials, and a highly complicated two-tone creation all are conceptually and aesthetically interesting enough to stand on their own.
If I had to pick one of the three new watches for my personal collection, I think I’d have to go with the Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon Chronograph. It’s such a complicated watch, with an irresistible movement design featuring bridges galore, that I think I’d have a nearly endless amount of fun watching the flying tourbillon and flyback chronograph do what they do best. The electric-blue Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked is a close second though, simply for its intense, out-of-the-box colorway.

Stay tuned for a closer look at all three of these watches, plus an overview of the broader evolution of Audemars Piguet’s Code 11.59 collection since its initial 2019 release, later this week.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT Goes Green

Announced in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak Concept line, this is the latest expression of one of Audemars Piguet’s most wild watches, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT. Never one to skip the chance to celebrate an anniversary, the Concept line was created as a special project to mark the Royal Oak’s 30th birthday in 2002. Since then, the Concept line has operated as the most avant-garde branch of the Royal Oak family tree, offering very limited production of equally bold and decidedly tech-forward modern Royal Oaks.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT debuted in 2018, but the general format dates back to the non-flying Concept GMT Tourbillon of 2011. This model, complete with a flying tourbillon surrounded by green ceramic and pink gold accents, uses a 44mm case that is 16.1mm thick and has been fitted with sapphire crystals front and back to show off its remarkable movement.
While this is essentially a new color for an existing model range (AP last offered this model with bright blue accents in 2020), it is also a good opportunity to revisit this model’s functionality, all thanks to the remarkable AP caliber 2954 movement.

The 2954 is something extra special and the flying tourbillon is only the start. With some 348 parts, the 2954 is hand wound and, get this, offers a maximum power reserve of 237 hours. Or about 10 days. Ticking at 3 Hz, the movement also supports a second time zone via a clever pair of stacked discs positioned at three o’clock on the dial.

The top disc is made of sapphire and has a transparent background, showing the hours 1-12 and thus rotating once every 12 hours. You can advance the indicated hour – to quickly track another time zone – by pressing the green ceramic pusher located just below the crown on the case flank. Beneath the sapphire hour disc is a second disc (this time made of brass) that manages an indication of day/night by only rotating once every 24 hours. Very clever and rather subtle.
Finally, the movement also features a function indicator that shows what function the crown is currently controlling. “H” for time setting, “R” for winding up the power reserve, and “N” for neutral. All of this complexity comes together in a skeletonized movement with, for this reference, green and pink gold accents tucked into black PVD-treated bridges.

While production of this CHF 198,900 travel watch is not specifically limited to a numbered edition, AP is not planning to make very many.
As something of a nerd for GMT watches – up to, and most certainly including those I will never be able to afford – I love that a Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT even exists. It’s a truly wild design that does a great job of modernizing the Royal Oak while still connecting to both the original Genta design and Audemars Piguet’s longstanding talent for complicated watchmaking.

Sure it’s big, costs more than my first house, and is likely destined only for serious AP collections, but the Concept line managed to do something new and special back in 2002 and I’d argue – green or otherwise – the whole concept (wink) is aging rather well.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept GMT Tourbillon Titanium

Twenty years ago, Audemars Piguet introduced the first Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept, an extreme-looking watch (both then and today) made of Alacrite 602 and titanium. Alacrite is a lightweight alloy mainly used in the aeronautical industry. Not only was the design extreme, but the movement inside was also rather special. Besides a tourbillon, the Royal Oak Concept from 2002 also featured a Dymograph. The Dymograph indicates the torque of the mainspring at that particular moment.

That watch still looks impressive today. To my delight, Audemars Piguet let me try on its most recent descendant the other day when I was visiting the brand’s museum in Le Brassus. This new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT is unmistakably related to its 20-year-old brother. The similarities are obvious but no less impactful. Over the years, Audemars Piguet has introduced several Royal Oak Concept watches, including the incredibly impressive Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher. With the Royal Oak Concept watches, Audemars Piguet has introduced technical and aesthetically groundbreaking designs. Today, the manufacture from Le Brassus introduces the latest addition, the 44mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT .

The large and complex case is made of titanium, but this time, it is enrichened by a beautiful green ceramic bezel. Camo-style green can also be found on the dial, but more about the movement and skeletonized dial later. What makes the use of ceramic so incredibly nice on this Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT (but also on the recently introduced blue Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ref. 26579CS that we wrote about here) is that the finishing is identical to that of the steel and precious-metal Royal Oak models. It’s all finished by hand, something that perhaps contrasts a bit with the use of “modern” material like ceramic. The green ceramic (ZrO2) consists of secret ingredients, but AP lets us know that the ceramic components only get this deep green color once they have been sintered at more than 1,400°C. Getting the right color and consistently doing so is not an easy task. The secret composition of the materials and the specific sintering temperatures are of the essence here. Caliber 2954 at the heart of the watch can be admired from both sides thanks to the skeletonized dial. The movement has been designed with black PVD-treated bridges and green-colored inserts, which are achieved through a Chemical Vapor Deposition process that adds a thin green layer to the parts. The green components of the dial match nicely with the green ceramic bezel and, of course, the green rubber strap. The hand-wound AP caliber 2954 features a flying tourbillon and a second-timezone (GMT) function. At 6 o’clock on the dial, you will find the letters H (setting the time), N (neutral), and R (winding the movement). We’ve seen this before (including on watches from other brands like Grönefeld), but it remains a useful and attractive feature. With the green pusher at 4 o’clock, you advance the hour hand. At 3 o’clock, you will find the second-timezone display that consists of two discs. One is sapphire with the numerals for the hours, and it rotates once every 12 hours. An additional day/night disc rotates every 24 hours, indicating daytime in white and nighttime in green. Lastly, the AP caliber 2954 has two barrels that give the watch a power reserve of approximately ten days. There’s a very clever mechanism behind this, providing a constant force for 237 hours of autonomy. The gear train gets its energy from the double barrels at exactly the same time using a clever mechanism. This solution reduces pressure in the gearing and friction in the barrels and increases precision, power reserve, and reliability.

To complement the green and black design elements of the watch and movement, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT decided to use pink gold for the hands, the applied AP logo at 12 o’clock, and the flying tourbillon cage. The green crown has a pink gold insert as well. Although the name might suggest otherwise, AP’s Royal Oak Concept watches are available to customers. They come at a high price point, but that’s what you have to accept when you want to be at the forefront of groundbreaking watches, I guess. Over the last 20 years, I have come across a handful of Royal Oak Concept watches “in the flesh”, and they always made a lasting impression on me. They are so out of the ordinary that you won’t quickly forget about these special Audemars Piguet watches.

The New Ceramic AP Perpetual Calendar

The hottest luxury watch on the planet is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

Ah, but which Royal Oak? Which one is the most interesting and collectible of all the contemporary, current-production models? My nominee is the ceramic-cased Royal Oak QP.

It features everything that makes a “conventional” (if there is such a thing) Royal Oak so damn good – namely the grande tapisserie dial, the thin profile, the integrated bracelet that’s a work of art unto itself, and of course, the octagonal bezel – but the ceramic-cased RO QP pushes it all to the max. The use of state-of-the-art colored ceramic for the case and bracelet means the entire package is bolder, more recognizable, and more scratch-proof than ever before.
At the same time, inside, the ultra-thin caliber 5134 is able to balance the seemingly disparate realm of the highly technical and the supremely slim, in superlative fashion. Ben was absolutely right when, in 2017, he introduced the inaugural ceramic Royal Oak QP by saying, “I’m calling it right here and right now, this is the hottest watch of SIHH 2017.” Five years later, during the Royal Oak’s ongoing 50th anniversary, the watch is still causing temperatures to rise.
That’s because, earlier today, Audemars Piguet quietly unveiled another scorcher. Following 2017’s original blacked-out ceramic RO QP and the white-ceramic sequel that came two years later, AP has released a new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar (ref. 26579CS.OO.1225CS.01) via its official brand website – and this one comes in blue (!) ceramic for the very first time. Is anyone else sweating or is it just me?

The new, blue Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is mostly identical to its predecessors, sharing an identical ultra-thin self-winding movement (caliber 5134) and case profile (41mm × 9.5mm), with the only major updates coming in the form of the high-tech blue ceramic case and the matching blue color of the grande tapisserie dial. But given how coveted the black and white ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars have become, this one still rates as a big deal.
Details on the new release are currently fairly scarce (in this case, what you see is what we see), but considering the high-profile nature of many of the known owners of previous ceramic RO QPS, it’s safe to say it’s a watch that will land on the wrists of many of AP’s best clients. We’ve previously spotted Draymond Green rocking his white-ceramic example, and everyone from UK rapper Stormzy, French actor Omar Sy, American comedian Kevin Hart, and Norwegian DJ Kygo have been seen with a touch of ceramic on their wrist.
The Royal Oak turns 50 this year, and we’ve already had one hell of a party. Remember the new “Jumbo,” ref. 16202? That was only announced to the world in January of this year. Karl Lagerfeld’s Royal Oak came up for auction, and so did Gérald Genta’s. We took a close look at the Royal Oak A2, the oldest known example of the original 15202 reference, and then we went ahead and broke open the entire history of the watch in the latest episode of Reference Points. There’ve already been so many memorable moments dedicated to the Royal Oak this year, and yet today’s announcement might just be my favorite.
The Royal Oak has always been controversial. The original 1972 design was just so incredibly, inherently subversive for its era, and somehow a half-century later I find that it continues to stand alone in the luxury sport-watch segment, surrounded by a sea of pretenders. In my view, not a single competitor has come close to channeling both virility and elegance in the same package to the same degree. And the blue-ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar brings out the best of both of those qualities, combining the ultra-hard ceramic material and aggressive styling with the same high-grade movement and the same delicate brushing and polishing of the case and bracelet that Royal Oak collectors expect.

It’s hard not to see a watch like this as a certain type of pinnacle for the Royal Oak anniversary. There’s a futuristic material that’s incredible difficult to work, now combined with one of the most traditional and elaborate complications, all inside of a genuinely iconic package.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding Flying Tourbillon Titanium

Audemars Piguet is starting the new month with a new Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon. The latest entry in the company’s ongoing 50th-anniversary blowout of the iconic stainless steel sport watch, today’s new release is particularly eye-catching, featuring a blue-green dial in customary “Grande Tapisserie” fashion, a 41mm × 10.7mm titanium case, and the swanky, spinning action of the flying tourbillon at six o’clock. This new version of the Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 41mm joins a trio of releases that were introduced in January during the first flurry of Royal Oak anniversary releases this year. As we pointed out in our initial Introducing coverage, AP went through a process of refinement when working out the case of the new Flying Tourbillon family. Despite ending up with identical dimensions to the existing pre-2022 Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon models, the new case on these watches has been subtly reworked, with more expansive bevels on the case and bracelet, a thinner first link of the bracelet, a slightly sunken sapphire crystal for the caseback, and updated hour markers and hands. Other elements that carry over to today’s release include the three-dimensional Audemars Piguet wordmark on the dial, created using high-tech galvanic growth, and the use of the self-winding caliber 2950 inside. This is the same self-winding movement that AP debuted in 2019, as part of the original CODE 11:59 launch, and it features a solid suite of specs in the form of 65 hours of running autonomy, a 3 Hz rate, a one-minute rotation, a three-arm rhodium-toned cage, and a free-sprung balance set with visible poising and timing screws. And because it’s a so-called “flying tourbillon,” there’s zero upper bridge on the tourbillon cage, affording a glimpse inside the rest of the caliber 2950 below. However, one difference worth noting is that even though it’s considered an official part of the Royal Oak’s half-century anniversary celebration, the festive “50 Years” logo found on the oscillating weight of January’s inaugural releases is now absent. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon ref. 26730TI.OO.1320TI.04, in titanium with a blue-green dial, is a limited edition of 50 pieces.
I really hope Coolio’s 1996 single “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” is on repeat these days at AP’s headquarters in Le Brassus.

We’ve seen a lot of Royal Oaks this year. There’s no doubt about that. And you might be reading this story, looking at the lovely images shot by the one-and-only Kasia Milton, and gearing up to comment something like, “But, Logan, all Royal Oaks look the same.” Well, bah humbug to you, too. I mean, c’mon, that criticism is about as old as the Royal Oak itself. My response is simple: Why would we want a Royal Oak to look like anything other than a Royal Oak? It’s an incredible watch. Although the parade of Royal Oaks makes me a bit sad as none will ever end up on my wrist, I’d be even sadder if AP threw the whole darn playbook away. More than anything, I’m just happy these watches exist, and I really do think today’s release is a looker.

I also think it’s interesting how heavily Audemars Piguet has focused on the tourbillon during the Royal Oak’s anniversary celebration, compared to, say, the Royal Oak Chronograph. So far this year, we’ve seen four Royal Oak Selfwinding Tourbillons (including today’s release), the first-ever openworked example of a Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon, and then the top-tier, hard-hitting Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin RD#3. What’s the big deal? The first tourbillon to join the Royal Oak lineup came in 1997 – the same year as the first Royal Oak Chronograph, ahem – but the first flying tourbillon didn’t join the ranks of the Royal Oak until a 2018 Royal Oak Concept release. Although, speaking of internet comment etiquette, you might remember it best from 2021’s Royal Oak Concept Black Panther. But maybe we don’t need reasons for watches other than them being badass and beautiful. And I can’t think of a better pair of words to describe the combination of the Royal Oak form factor, the flying tourbillon of AP caliber 2950, and that sweet, sweet smoked blue-green dial.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar 41 Blue Ceramic

The hottest luxury watch on the planet is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Ah, but which Royal Oak? Which one is the most interesting and collectible of all the contemporary, current-production models? My nominee is the ceramic-cased Royal Oak QP. 
It features everything that makes a “conventional” (if there is such a thing) Royal Oak so damn good – namely the grande tapisserie dial, the thin profile, the integrated bracelet that’s a work of art unto itself, and of course, the octagonal bezel – but the ceramic-cased RO QP pushes it all to the max. The use of state-of-the-art colored ceramic for the case and bracelet means the entire package is bolder, more recognizable, and more scratch-proof than ever before. 
At the same time, inside, the ultra-thin caliber 5134 is able to balance the seemingly disparate realm of the highly technical and the supremely slim, in superlative fashion. Ben was absolutely right when, in 2017, he introduced the inaugural ceramic Royal Oak QP by saying, “I’m calling it right here and right now, this is the hottest watch of SIHH 2017.” Five years later, during the Royal Oak’s ongoing 50th anniversary, the watch is still causing temperatures to rise.

That’s because, earlier today, Audemars Piguet quietly unveiled another scorcher. Following 2017’s original blacked-out ceramic RO QP and the white-ceramic sequel that came two years later, AP has released a new  Audemars Piguet Royal Oak  Perpetual Calendar (ref. 26579CS.OO.1225CS.01) via its official brand website – and this one comes in blue (!) ceramic for the very first time. Is anyone else sweating or is it just me?
The new, blue Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is mostly identical to its predecessors, sharing an identical ultra-thin self-winding movement (caliber 5134) and case profile (41mm × 9.5mm), with the only major updates coming in the form of the high-tech blue ceramic case and the matching blue color of the grande tapisserie dial. But given how coveted the black and white ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendars have become, this one still rates as a big deal. 
Details on the new release are currently fairly scarce (in this case, what you see is what we see), but considering the high-profile nature of many of the known owners of previous ceramic RO QPS, it’s safe to say it’s a watch that will land on the wrists of many of AP’s best clients. We’ve previously spotted Draymond Green rocking his white-ceramic example, and everyone from UK rapper Stormzy, French actor Omar Sy, American comedian Kevin Hart, and Norwegian DJ Kygo have been seen with a touch of ceramic on their wrist. 

If Tobias Fünke were still around, he’d undoubtedly be first in line for the new one.
The Royal Oak turns 50 this year, and we’ve already had one hell of a party. Remember the new “Jumbo,” ref. 16202? That was only announced to the world in January of this year. Karl Lagerfeld’s Royal Oak came up for auction, and so did Gérald Genta’s. We took a close look at the Royal Oak A2, the oldest known example of the original 15202 reference, and then we went ahead and broke open the entire history of the watch in the latest episode of Reference Points. There’ve already been so many memorable moments dedicated to the Royal Oak this year, and yet today’s announcement might just be my favorite. 

The  Audemars Piguet Royal Oak  has always been controversial. The original 1972 design was just so incredibly, inherently subversive for its era, and somehow a half-century later I find that it continues to stand alone in the luxury sport-watch segment, surrounded by a sea of pretenders. In my view, not a single competitor has come close to channeling both virility and elegance in the same package to the same degree. And the blue-ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar brings out the best of both of those qualities, combining the ultra-hard ceramic material and aggressive styling with the same high-grade movement and the same delicate brushing and polishing of the case and bracelet that Royal Oak collectors expect.
It’s hard not to see a watch like this as a certain type of pinnacle for the Royal Oak anniversary. There’s a futuristic material that’s incredible difficult to work, now combined with one of the most traditional and elaborate complications, all inside of a genuinely iconic package.

Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Minute Repeater Tourbillon Chronograph

When we first covered the watch that would later be known as the Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Minute Repeater Tourbillon Chronograph Supersonnerie, back in 2014, it was as a concept watch that AP hadn’t yet demonstrated a desire to sell to collectors. The team in Le Brassus’s ostensible goal was to push the boundaries of chiming watch acoustics and to provide tangible evidence that the quest for continuous improvement in minute repeaters was as alive as ever.
The next year, at SIHH 2015, AP set up a sound-proof booth in which they could demonstrate the superlative tonality and volume of the new concept watch. I won’t forget hearing this minute repeater for the first time, and that’s no hyperbole. The paradox of a minute repeater that chimes louder and clearer on the wrist than off was lost on no one. I wanted to know exactly how it worked – and I don’t think I was the only one. Luckily, Jack went in-depth on the subject back in 2016, writing the best explanation out there of how Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Minute Repeater Tourbillon Chronograph developed the Supersonnerie and why it’s such a unique repeater. But the story doesn’t stop there. Earlier this year, Audemars Piguet presented the coolest watch that you possibly haven’t heard of yet. On the outside, it’s a platinum Jules Audemars dress watch with a smokey blue enamel dial and white gold hands. But inside, it’s every bit the triple-patented Supersonnerie we know and love. Acoustically, can the new Jules Audemars Minute repeater match the funky concept watch that preceded it? Considering that it has a platinum case and enamel dial, you’d expect some loss of sound quality from the original, since it was built purely for optimum tonality. However, after hearing this watch in a crowded booth at SIHH, I can confirm that it is much louder than your typical minute repeater, and, just like the concept watch, it’s louder on the wrist than off.

Commercially, this watch makes perfect sense. It looks like your typical minute repeater, and chances are it’s the kind of design most collectors have in mind when they plunk down six figures for a chiming watch. Sure, the case is large, at 43mm in diameter and 13.15mm thick; but, then again, it’s not unusual for a conventional minute repeater to tip the scales in terms of size. These are not complications typically known for their slimness. Flipping the Jules Audemars Minute Repeater over, you’ll notice a nice relief engraving of a watchmaker at his bench. You’ll also see a series of perforations surrounding this engraving. This minor concession to the watch’s otherwise classical design is, you guessed it, part of the Supersonnerie construction. Not that anyone would ever dream of getting a watch like this wet, but it’s depth rating, according to AP, is still 20 meters, even with those openings. The Jules Audemars Minute Repeater is not a limited edition, but unsurprisingly AP says that very few will be made. The $325,000 price tag isn’t for the faint of heart, but when one considers that this timepiece has one of the loudest and purest sounding minute repeater mechanisms available and comes cased in platinum, it’s hardly unfair.

Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked

For 2022, Swiss Audemars Piguet has spent a lot of time tweaking and adding to its still-fresh Code 11.59 family of watches. This newest Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph (reference 26399BC.OO.D321CR.01) watch debuted today is a highly exclusive limited edition that focuses on using the Code 11.59 case to promote an elegantly handcrafted, complex haute horology movement. For years, Audemars Piguet was urged by fans to diversify its appeal away from the Royal Oak collection. In a move to appeal to younger buyers who grew up in a novel world, the Code 11.59 family is Audemars Piguet area in which to experiment and play — which the brand has always done marvelously when price isn’t a limitation.
The Code 11.59 case for this model is 41mm wide (water resistant to 30 meters) produced in 18k white gold. The case as always is very nicely finished – and openworked around the lugs – with mostly brushed surfaces that are enhanced by carefully polished angles. This same aesthetic concept has been adopted onto the movement, which according to Audemars Piguet has over 100 hands-polished surfaces. While not technically part of the watch’s title, the in-house made caliber 2952 automatic movement is “Openworked” (Audemars Piguet’s preferred way of saying “skeletonized”) in a manner which creates an eye-pleasing symmetrical dial motif.
The movement is produced from 479 distinct parts and operates at 3Hz with 65 hours of power reserve. The automatic (self-winding) movement offers the time, a 30-minute chronograph with a flyback complication (a first in a tourbillon movement from the brand) as a flying tourbillon positioned above 6 o’clock. Until now there have been Code 11.59 Tourbillon watches, andCode 11.59 Chronograph watches, but no other Tourbillon Chronograph watches like the novel reference 26399BC.OO.D321CR.01.

Royal blue lacquer color is used to decorate the dial’s flange ring as well as the flange rings on the chronograph subdials. Blue is still a very popular color in watchmaking, which allows this first version of the Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph to be fashionably trendy. I anticipate that Audemars Piguet will render this same case, dial, and movement combination in additional gold or precious metal cases, and with different dial colors. Legibility might be a challenge given the blue hands on an open dial can be tough to spot in some lighting conditions (and come to think of it, the hands could have been a tad bit longer), though at least the flange ring has complete minute and hour markers.
There are more new Code 11.59 watches for 2021, including this particularly attractive (and high) skeletonized tourbillon version. What is the most immediately distinctive about the novel reference 26600CR.OO.D009KB.01 Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked is the two-tone case, which makes use of both 18k white and pink gold. Audemars Piguet was always clear that the Code 11.59 case was meant to be modular, and thus rendered in different ways, with different materials. This is to be expected, but watches at this price point (for whatever reason) have rarely offered a two-tone gold approach. It’s actually quite refreshing.

This particular Code 11.59 dial is one of my favorites given the symmetrical beauty and hand-finishing of the in-house-made caliber 2948 manually wound tourbillon movement. The intricate case with its skeletonized lugs is still an interesting modern take on the round case classic. The 41mm-wide main case (just 10.7mm-thick) is done in 18k white gold, while the middle section of the case is done in 18k pink gold. We see this same juxtaposition of hues on the movement between the silver-toned movement and the 18k pink gold hands and balance wheel. It’s really a great use of these colors for fashion purposes. More so, the watch does not have all the same colors from the same angles. Look at the Code 11.59 Tourbillon Open Worked head-on, and it mostly looks like a white gold watch. Look at it from the side and the color mixture changes dramatically.
The skeletonized movement is really rather simple from an engineering perspective, and here is all about elegance in construction and decoration. Audemars Piguet made especially sure that the curving, circular lines of the movement bridges follow the major round shape of the mainspring barrel as well as the spinning tourbillon assembly. The movement is made up of 196 parts and operates at 3Hz with 72 hours of power reserve. Audemars Piguet does have a lot more sophisticated tourbillon-based movements, but this version of the Code 11.59 is more of a modern dress watch so a more simple, decorative movement suits it. Legibility isn’t bad, though the hands appear a bit on the short side and feel a bit far from the peripheral minute/hour indicator ring that sits above the skeletonized movement display.