The Swiss Haute Horologerie manufacturer’s latest collection, Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet, launched at the beginning of the year, presents a case composed of contrasting features speaking to the watch’s beauty and technical intricacy. Its multifaceted and curved architecture which required the use of dedicated tools and pushed hand finishing techniques to new heights is complemented by more details than meet the eye. Check the review of the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding Chronograph here.
As Michael Friedman, Head of Complications at Audemars Piguet explains, “Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet gives the polishers a canvas to create.”
Let’s take a closer look at the savoir-faire that enabled the creation of this complex case — a marriage of advanced technology and time-honoured tradition.
PUSHING THE LIMITS OF GEOMETRICAL COMPLEXITY
Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet is endowed with a contemporary architecture that unites an octagonal middle case with a round extra-thin bezel and stylised arched lugs. The case’s multiple geometries and ergonomic curvature made the conception, manufacturing and decoration of each component particularly intricate. Complex programming, dedicated tools and highly specialised human talents had to be combined for the industrialisation and hand-finishing of the components.
CONTEMPORARY DOUBLE CURVE
The geometry of the extra-thin bezel was designed to integrate the complex double-curved glare-proofed sapphire crystal that the Manufacture specifically conceived for the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection. The glass’s internal surface is shaped like a dome, while its external surface is vertically curved from 6 to 12 o’clock. Playing with depth, perspective and light, the crystal provides a unique visual experience while enhancing the detailed work on the dial.
CUTTING-EDGE HAND-FINISHED LUGS
To complement the case’s multifaceted architecture, it was decided on open-worked lugs endowed with a complex curved geometry combining five different axes. Audemars Piguet engineers welded the lugs to the upper bezel in order to leave the octagonal middle case unobstructed from view and push further the hand finishing on this piece. In other words, the upper lugs are soldered to the extra-thin bezel, while the bottom lugs lean delicately against the caseback in perfect alignment.
New processes challenging traditional production standards were developed to solder the lugs to this extra-thin surface. Each lug is individually soldered to the bezel with a soldering paste applied by hand. To conclude, their resistance to tear is tested in a machine specifically conceived for Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet.
Once the bezel’s diameter is adjusted by hand to compensate for the deformation caused by heating, an expert polisher delicately polishes the welded junction of the lugs and bezel to hide the soldering paste with a subtle finishing touch – a detail invisible once the watch is fully assembled.
DELICATE ALTERNATION OF SATIN-BRUSHED AND POLISHED SURFACES
The challenge and intricacy of Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet lies in the immaculate and perfectly aligned alternation of satin-brushed and polished surfaces around the case. This level of aesthetic complexity is only achievable by hand.
The interweaving of polishing and satin brushing is one of Audemars Piguet’s trademarks. While rendered more prominent with the launch of the Royal Oak in 1972, this combination has adorned many of the Manufacture’s wristwatches throughout the 20th century.
Although keeping with Audemars Piguet’s traditions, Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet has pushed hand-finishing techniques to new heights. The case’s multiplicity of angular and rounded surfaces has presented a real challenge to the manufacturer’s finishing experts—a highly specialised team comprised of 6 polishers and 5 satin-brushing specialists.
HAND-FINISHED TO THE SLIGHTEST DETAIL
Each component of the case has been pre-polished and pre-satin-brushed after machining before being decorated to the slightest detail by hand. The polisher delicately chamfers the angular surfaces of each component, adding a smooth and mirror finish. The difficulty lies in polishing the smallest details without altering their forms and compromising the piece’s alignment. The polished chamfers adorning the lugs’ internal and external surfaces, as well as the hidden face leaning against the caseback, testify to the technical and aesthetic complexity of Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet. The screw openings on the lugs also present polished bevels barely visible to the eye. Precision lies in the tiniest details. Each component is then carefully finished with traits-tirés—a technique which requires dexterity, patience and perfect alignment.
From its conception to the final touch, the case of Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet has been conceived to surprise with its myriads of contrasting details which give life to this multifaceted piece—a harmonious marriage of cutting-edge technology and ancestral savoir-faire.
“To break the rules, you must first master them.”
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About Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet is the oldest fine watchmaking manufacturer still in the hands of its founding families (Audemars and Piguet). Since 1875, the company has written some of the finest chapters in the history of Haute Horlogerie, including a number of world firsts. In the Vallée de Joux, at the heart of the Swiss Jura, numerous masterpieces are created in limited series embodying a remarkable degree of horological perfection, including daring sporty models, classic and traditional timepieces, splendid ladies’ jewellery-watches, as well as one-of-a-kind creations.