The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet represents one of the most complex pieces created by the manufacturer with its double-curved sapphire crystal, extra-thin bezel, octagonal case middle and round caseback that houses Calibre 1000
Not every timepiece launched becomes an instant success; some like the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet took a while for watch aficionados to warm up to it. That was back in 2019, four years later the award-winning timepiece has been gaining popularity with a huge fan base.
The Swiss haute horlogerie manufacturer launches Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4. With this, Audemars Piguet elevates its savoir-faire capabilities that mark a culmination of three generations of R&D innovations that incorporates 40 functions, including 23 complications such as a Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie, a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, split-seconds flyback chronograph and flying tourbillon.
Since 2016, the manufacturer’s main aim was to develop a highly complicated watch that is suitable for everyday use. One that would strike the right balance between complexity, ergonomics and aesthetics. Here’s the evolution: The Supersonnerie technology was unveiled in 2015 (RD#1), the ultra-thin perpetual calendar movement was launched in 2018 (RD#2) and the oscillator with increased amplitude premiered on the two Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin RD#3 models that were released in 2022. This year sees the culmination of the previous versions with the completion of RD#4 and the creation of a timepiece that is powered by an ultra-complicated self-winding movement. All components are protected in a new case that measures 42mm in diameter (instead of 41mm) and 15.55mm in thickness.
Other technical achievements include simplifying the functions with just three crowns and three push-pieces. The discreet push-pieces are integrated into the case’s left side, while the top one starts the minute repeater function, the two pushers respectively serve to correct the moon and day indications — a system where corrections can be done without the need to use sharp tools.
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On the right side of the case are three crowns with coaxial pushers that allow the wearer to wind the watch, set the time and date with the central crown and select the chiming mode (Grande Sonnerie, Petite Sonnerie, or silence mode). The flyback chronograph can be activated with the supercrown at two o’clock and reset with the other supercrown at four o'clock. While the pusher actuates the flyback chronograph’s zero resetting mechanism, the crown enables the forward or backward correction of the month.
In addition, the crown automatically returns to its neutral position after rotating it (up to 70°) in either direction. This ease of use hides highly technical mechanical devices located in both the crown and the movement, as well as a complex security system preventing misuse. Small intuitive symbols engraved on each crown and push-piece remind the wearer of their respective functions.
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The Grande Sonnerie timepiece strikes the hours and every quarter hour by passing (repeating the hour before the quarter every time). In the Petite Sonnerie position, the watch chimes the hours only, while the automatic chiming is deactivated in the silent mode. Additionally, the wearer can activate the minute repeater mechanism at any time via the dedicated push-piece located at 10 o’clock. To optimise energy management and distribution, the timepiece’s chiming functions are fed by a dedicated barrel that is wound by the movement of the wrist, alternately with the main barrel.
On the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4 are two concentric discs, on which six different moon positions are printed, combine to form ten images faithfully representing the transitory waxing and waning stages between the New and Full Moon, as the satellite orbits around the Earth in an average of 29.53 days. As for other astronomical moons, this new moon image requires manual correction every 122 years, a treasure you can pass on to the next generation and well after.
While the flyback chronograph allows to reset and restart the chronograph without having to stop it first, the split-seconds mechanism measures intermediate time intervals thanks to the addition of a split-seconds hand that can be stopped independently of the centre chronograph hand when the dedicated pusher is activated. When the push-piece is pressed again, it catches up to the running hand to continue the journey together around the dial. The timepiece has a dedicated swivel clutch that prevents the chronograph centre hands from stumbling when the mechanism is started.
The architecture of the chronograph mechanism was further remodelled to save space and showcase components usually hidden from view on the caseback side. One of the major developments entailed integrating the split-seconds mechanism within the thickness of the central rotor’s ball bearing. By merging two systems usually superposed, Audemars Piguet engineers reduced the movement’s thickness by 1.1 mm, while revealing the beauty of the split-seconds mechanism when the user opens the watch’s “secret” cover.
To enhance the readability of the chronograph functions, the hour and minute counters have been enlarged and slightly decentred from the three and nine o’clock axis to sit further away from the flying tourbillon cage at six o’clock.
The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4 has a flying tourbillon at six o’clock that completes a revolution every minute to correct the effect of gravity on the watch’s accuracy. This pulsating cage reveals part of the ultra-complicated timepiece’s beating heart, including its large amplitude oscillator.