This Audemars Piguet Watch Was a Century in the Making. It Was Worth the Wait
Watches tend to be ranked in terms of prestige by their number of complications. There are many other factors—weight; case size; precious metals; proprietary movements; heritage—but, in the main, a watch with a tourbillon or a perpetual calendar will have an altogether higher appeal than one without (but lower than one with both). Not only are such timepieces progressively harder to engineer, but finding space for more complications is like trying to fit a car with a second engine. But, as Audemars Piguet's new Code 11.59 Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4 attests, more is always possible.
The highlight of a series of barnstorming 2023 releases from the sought-after Swiss brand, this new watch is AP's first 'ultra-complicated' automatic watch in its 147-year history. In total, it offers 23 complications inside a 42mm case, plus 17 'technical devices', taking the grand total of functions to 40.
First and foremost, of course, it tells the time, but beyond that the mind starts to boggle. There is a split-seconds flyback chronograph; a moonphase; a flying tourbillon; a perpetual calendar; and most befuddling of all, a "Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie", which chimes out the time—hours and quarter-hours—automatically. (You can set the watch to chime just the hours, or even put it into 'silent' mode, but where's the fun in that?)
This technology is normally obscured from vision by the rest of the movement, but for this watch, AP developed a double caseback system comprising a "secret" extra-thin cover (which you can open!) and a soundboard, crafted from super-thin sapphire crystal. The soundboard alone took three years to develop.
"This watch was the ultimate challenge for our development team," explains Lucas Raggi, who is the research and development director at AP. "The level of miniaturization achieved is a true milestone for Audemars Piguet and paves the way for the next generation of
The watch has three crowns on the right and three very subtle pushers on the left—marked with explanatory icons—which means each manages just under seven functions each, on average. Like an iPhone that's made of cogs and levers and never needs charging, the watch is AP's "quest to the Holy Grail" says CEO François-Henry Bennahmias. "We dreamed about it for 100 years, thought about it for 20 years, and took seven years to bring it to life."
From: Esquire UK