Automatic for the People: Audemars Piguet Impresses with Four New Self-Winding Watches
The brand’s additions to the Royal Oak family and the new Code 11.59 focus on luxury and comfort (perhaps the greatest luxury of all).
Earlier today, Le Brassus-based brand Audemars Piguet unveiled its latest novelties. And while they are all enticing in their own way (and we will take a closer look at AP’s other innovations in a separate story), we felt the self-winding editions deserved extra attention.
Why? Because these new models focus on ergonomics, with the brand tweaking case sizes and overall architecture to create timepieces that feel fully integrated with the wrist. And even though many of these watches are visually bold, the idea is that they should feel easy to wear.
And keeping that goal in mind, what is more carefree than an automatic movement? The answer is Audemars Piguet’s self-winding calibres that have been updated to suit smaller case sizes without sacrificing precision.
Here’s a roundup of our favorite AP automatics of 2023 (so far).
Royal Oak with Deep Blue Smoked Dial
Winding your watch by hand is not the most strenuous of tasks, but the ability to power it with an effortless gesture makes it more elegant. And to make it look glamorous at the same time? That’s one of Audemars Piguet’s superpowers.
These three new Royal Oak timepieces are endowed with the maison’s most recent ergonomic design. These changes include enlarging the bevels adorning the top and bottom of the case to allow for more play of light between the satin-finished and polished surfaces. Plus, the caseback is more fully integrated into the case middle so that the watch sits comfortably on the wrist.
The quest for comfort continues with the integrated bracelet. The first four links now have a trapezoidal shape resulting in a slimmer silhouette. The links are also thinner, making the bracelet lighter overall.
These three editions, available in 34mm, 37mm, and a chronograph in 38mm, also mark a design evolution. They feature elegant smoked blue Grande Tapisserie dials and baguette diamond indices and bezels that further reflect light. And did we mention that all three versions come in 18k white gold? There’s something about the feeling of gold against the skin that can’t compare to steel.
Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph in Black Ceramic & Yellow Gold
For larger wrists, Audemars Piguet is introducing a version of its 43mm Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph made from black ceramic with yellow gold accents.
This impressive timepiece is also a celebration of the Royal Oak Offshore’s 30th anniversary. And its use of black ceramic and yellow gold accents is a visual representation of the world the Offshore was born into and reflect materials preferred by enthusiasts today.
Encased in black ceramic with contrasting yellow gold elements on the dial, push-piece guards, studs, and buckle, each component of the case requires a multi-stage manufacturing process and the use of several artisanal hand-finishing techniques. This marriage of high-tech and traditional skills has resulted in decorations adorning the yellow gold caseback, push-piece guards, and studs that engage with lightness and light.
This two-tone 43mm Chronograph also features a redesigned ergonomic case with polished chamfers on the edges and a slightly curved bezel, screw-locked crown, and chronograph pushers. A lovely detail you won’t find on the spec sheets: The ceramic bezel gently arcs from 6 to 12 o’clock to reflect the profile of the sapphire crystal and is dotted with eight screws.
Below the black Méga Tapisserie dial is the brand’s latest chronograph movement, the self-winding Calibre 4401. It is fully integrated and features a column wheel and a flyback function. To further support the ease-of-use theme, this function also allows the wearer to start, stop, and reset the chronograph with one action.
And for added versatility, this Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph is presented on a supple black alligator strap with an 18K yellow gold pin buckle and an additional black rubber strap. Part of AP’s interchangeable strap system, the wearer can easily switch to another strap or bracelet without the need for tools.
Royal Oak Selfwinding Yellow Gold with Natural Turquoise Dial
Visually the boldest of Audemars Piguet’s 2023 offerings, this bright blue timepiece uses a mixture of semi-precious (natural turquoise) and precious materials (18K yellow gold) to create a new way of looking at the Royal Oak’s design codes.
Instead of the collection’s signature Tapisserie dial, this edition features a slender turquoise disc that has been ground, sandblasted, and polished before being integrated into a gilded brass outer casing. Each dial is unique because each turquoise disc possesses its own natural composition, texture, and color.
It’s also the first 37 mm Royal Oak encased in yellow gold since 2018. The combination of the warmth of the gold case, bezel, and integrated bracelet brings out an otherworldly intensity in the turquoise. Plus, the smooth dial allows the wearer to reflect on the brand’s trademark hand-finished details, such as the alternating polished and satin-brushed surfaces, yellow gold hands and hour-markers with luminescent coating, and applied “Audemars Piguet” signature. Another nice touch is the turquoise-toned date window.
This new reference also employs the brand’s latest in-house self-winding hour, minute, seconds, and date movement – the Manufacture Calibre 5900. This movement combines a slim 3.9 mm thickness, a high 4Hz frequency, and a 60-hour power reserve. Moreover, the mechanism is visible through the sapphire caseback, revealing the 22K pink gold oscillating weight along with the refined decorations adorning the components, such as the polished angles, vertical satin brushing, Côtes de Genève, circular graining, and chamfering.
Code 11.59 Selfwinding 41mm in Stainless Steel
Although the Code 11.59 collection debuted only four years ago, Audemars Piguet is introducing an updated aesthetic for 2023 with four new models made entirely in steel (a first) and two that combine a black ceramic case middle with an ultra-thin steel bezel, lugs, and caseback.
For visual impact, AP’s designers have smoothed the bevel and reduced the steepness of the angle of the inner bezel. Of course, these changes don’t radically alter the signature look of the original Code 11.59, but they do dramatically improve the aesthetics and ergonomics.
That said, the six new 41mm references also emphasize legibility with a new stamped dial pattern specially created for the collection. Made up of concentric circles to create a unique ripple pattern (a texture unique to the Code 11.59), AP developed this pattern in collaboration with Swiss guilloche craftsman Yann von Kaenel. Moreover, these updated dials will also be available in three colorways: “Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50” (borrowed from the Royal Oak line), an almost khaki green, and a light beige-to-black ombre. This combination of glowing colors and shiny steel lends the collection a sportier, more nonchalant feeling than previous editions of the Code 11.59.
Because it’s still early days for the Code 11.59 collection, Audemars Piguet’s latest-generation movements can grow up alongside the collection’s design. Accordingly, these new automatics come equipped with the maison’s most recent technology.
The date models are powered by the Manufacture Calibre 4302. Meanwhile, the two chronographs run on the Calibre 4401, an integrated self-winding chronograph movement with a column wheel, flyback function, and a vertical gear train to prevent the hands from jumping when the chronograph is activated or stopped. However, both calibres contain a patented mechanism that provides stability and precision when setting the watch.
Stay tuned to Watchonista for more news on Audemars Piguet’s 2023 releases!
(Images © Audemars Piguet)