From the moment Audemars Piguet’s new Code 11.59 debuted in January, it began receiving heavy criticism online. At the time we had not yet seen it, so our initial article reflected that. Now that we’ve seen it, we’ll give you our hands-on impressions.

The Le Brassus-based watch brand that’s generally loved around the world, primarily for their Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore, was perhaps a bit ambitious in their advertising, for instance, the decision to emphasize how much time and effort was needed to develop the process to apply the “Audemars Piguet” logo on some of the models.

Code 11:59 wristshot
Code 11.59 Self-Winding in pink gold wristshot

I thought the focus should have been more centered around the impressive all-new in-house movements, which feature traversing balance bridges, long power reserves, and beautiful high-end Swiss decorations such as beveled edges and Geneva stripes. Especially the integrated column-wheel and vertical clutch flyback chronograph, the company’s first ever in-house automatic chronograph.

The movements were not really the cause of the outrage, though. On Instagram especially, the attacks and criticism were aimed at the dial and case design. The side-by-side comparisons next to a Daniel Wellington – and many other very low priced watches that were being posted everywhere – were uncanny.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Steel on the wrist
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Steel on the wrist

The white dial has received the most criticism, and I’d say rightfully so as it’s arguably the ugly duckling of the thirteen new Code 11.59 references. The darker dials at least look luxurious and like something someone paying five figures might buy.

After hearing predominately negative feedback on the Code 11.59 for weeks, I finally previewed the collection at the AP boutique in New York City at the end of February. At the time, I was looking forward to seeing all the new Royal Oaks, as usual, but kind of apprehensive about the thought of seeing the alpha-numerically named monstrosity.

When I saw the much talked about watch in-person for the first time, I was neither appalled as I thought I’d be nor in awe, the way I am pretty much every time I see a Jumbo Royal Oak.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Hands-On
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 automatic in pink gold

What I saw, was a watch that clearly has the incredible finishing signature of an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Those perfectly polished lug edges and the two mirror-polished bands running horizontally along the circumference of the octagonal case middle, in particular, reminded me a lot of the Royal Oak.

And something new, instead of a Grand Tapisserie dial, there’s a glossy curved dial, with curved hands, and even curved indices. Eight of the dials in the collection, the four automatics and chronographs, are made with 8-12 layers of lacquer. Four have grand feu baked enamel dials. One has an aventurine dial. Complementing the dial is a double curve sapphire glass that protrudes above the bezel slightly and creates a very unique aesthetic.

Audemars Piguet caliber 4401 in-house chronograph movemen
Audemars Piguet caliber 4401 in-house chronograph movement

As light strikes this watch at different angles it sparkles in much the same way the Royal Oak bracelet and case do, but there’s just a little more shine, a little more bling, all while maintaining an understated appearance.

The final design element worth noting is how ergonomically comfortable the watch felt my wrist. Thanks to the curved case and well-articulated lugs, this seemingly big, heavy-looking 18K gold watch (41 mm x 13.5 mm case), did not feel too big, or look it, even with the ultra-thin bezel, which generally makes a watch appear larger than it is.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 wristshot
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 wristshot

Moreover, I immediately thought “it’s way better than the Millenary.” Although this model replaces the discontinued Jules Audemars, not the Millenary. Either way, I’ve never been a big fan of the Millenary or Jules Audemars, but I could be of this, maybe.

Ultimately, I did not get enough time with the Code 11.59 to make a definitive decision on the watch in the way I would in a full review. What I can say is that I was impressed by the finishing, the in-house mechanics, and the proportions. The latter of which work well for a larger wrist.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Chronograph
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Chronograph

I did not see the minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar, or the skeleton, although we did cover them here, and there’ll be a more formal launch coming up in the near future and we’ll plan to photograph more of the collection at that time.

Retail prices start at $26,800. Learn more at Audemars Piguet.

Audemars Piguet caliber 4302 caseback
Audemars Piguet’s new caliber 4302 seen through the caseback of the Code 11.59 – the same movement also powers the new Royal Oak 15500
Jason Pitsch
Posted by:Jason Pitsch

Editor, writer, and photographer. LinkedIn