Five years ago, at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (aka SIHH, the predecessor to Watches and Wonders), Audemars Piguet shocked the watch world. When “AP” launched the all-new Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet collection, the reception was lukewarm at best, but most reactions were straight-up negative. In particular, the dial design got a proper beating. To be fair, I didn’t care much for it either. The 41mm Selfwinding’s lacquered dial with its three Arabic numerals didn’t seem to fit a Haute Horlogerie watch with a ditto price tag. But now it’s 2024, and AP has presented two Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet Selfwinding models that show progress. I decided to show the 41mm and 38mm models some love when I got the chance to meet them in the metal in the AP House in Amsterdam.

It has never been about the case of the Code 11.59 collection, has it? Its distinctive sandwich construction with an octagonal middle was impressive from the start, but that’s never the focus because the dial has always been the talking point. Well, since the collection’s debut, AP launched different variations of the watch, including steel models, various sizes, plenty of colors, and some complications too. However, none of them captivated me that much. Neither did the 38mm variant of the Selfwinding that debuted last year in pink gold with either a purple or an ivory-colored dial. But this year, that 38mm Selfwinding also comes in the combination of pink gold and “Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50,” the most iconic AP dial color you can’t dislike if you have a heart for watches. Could this smaller dark blue version be the perfect modern dress watch?

Code 11.59

Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet Selfwinding 41mm (15210OR.OO.A348KB.01)

Love and attention for the Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet Selfwinding

I regard the Selfwinding model in the Code 11.59 collection as a watch that fits the zeitgeist perfectly. The watch is aimed at a clientele that has money to spend and doesn’t suffer too much from things like inflation. It’s also a target audience that doesn’t wear suits and ties to the office. COVID lockdowns accelerated the unstoppable process of “deformalization” in our society, and that shows itself in casual-chic fashion. The Code 11.59 is also a casual-chic watch. It has the “Loro Piana loafers and Bruno Cuccinelli suede jacket” vibe. Those who know and can afford brands like this also don’t feel their hearts sink when hearing about the €30K+ price of the Code 11.59 Selfwinding. But is the new 38mm iteration in dark blue even better as a “dress watch 2.0” than its 3mm-bigger sibling?

Audemars Piguet

Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet Selfwinding 38mm (77410OR.OO.A342CR.01)

Is 38mm the perfect size for a dress watch 2.0?

During the presentation of the 2024 novelties, I was convinced that the 38 × 9.6mm Code 11.59 Selfwinding with its dark blue attire (77410OR.OO.A342CR.01) and €34,400 price was the perfect watch to please both traditionalists and dedicated followers of fashion. The combination of a classic case size and a can’t-go-wrong “Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50” dial would get the job done. And speaking of the dial, gone is the plain lacquer of the watches that debuted five years ago. Now the dial shows a dynamic pattern that you could mistake for guilloché. Instead, it’s a stamped dial with a ripple pattern. “Stamped” sounds less luxurious than “guilloché,” but the stamped pattern designed by Yann von Kaenel, an independent engine-turning specialist, does look rich and luscious without being gaudy.

Pink gold applied indexes replace the unloved Arabic numerals, and the hands with Super-LumiNova are also done in rose gold. This combination of dial, indexes, and hands works for me. There’s also a nice feeling of depth thanks to the elevated flange indicating the minutes in a small font — yes, the Arabic numerals are in the right place this time.

Code 11.59

Too small after all?

On the screen, the watch looks perfect. In the metal, though, I developed second thoughts. The size is nice, yes, but it may be a little too small for its design. It looked way better on the wrist of the lady sitting across the table. On my wrist, it looked rather small. I also didn’t care much for the pearly dark blue large-square-scale alligator strap that tapers from 20 to 18mm. However, I do applaud AP’s choice of an elegant and simple pink gold pin buckle instead of a folding clasp.

Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet

Before passing final judgment, I took the watch off, flipped it over, and looked at the automatic caliber 5900 inside. This 26.2 × 3.9mm, 188-part, 4Hz movement first appeared in 2022 and is made for AP by Vaucher. It also powers some of the 37mm Royal Oak references and has a decent power reserve of 60 hours.

With my eyes back on the dial side of the watch, I concluded that the new light blue shade of the 77410OR.OO.A344CR.01 fits the proportions of the watch better. A softer-looking dial, such as the ivory and purple ones from last year, accentuates the size and elegance better than the more robust-looking and traditional dark blue.

Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet

Sizing up with the 41mm Code 11.59 Selfwinding

Could the 41 × 50 × 10.7mm version (15210OR.OO.A348KB.01) with a €35,600 price steal my heart instead? You might think that this new pink gold model uses the same “Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50” dial as the 38mm version. Well, it does, but it doesn’t. There’s a difference. And that difference makes all the, uh, difference.

Code 11.59

Look closely, and you will indeed see the same dark blue base and pink gold applied indexes and hands with luminescent coating. But there’s also something the 38mm version doesn’t have. It’s the gray inner bezel. And that differently colored detail changes the face of the watch. The extra visual element creates a livelier look. It’s a bit like combining gray flannel pants with a dark blue shirt; it’s a classic pairing that just works.

Business and smart casual

The matching rubber-coated strap, which tapers from 22 to 20mm, also significantly affects the watch’s appearance and character. It suits the watch in both color and spirit. The textured strap looks informal and sporty but also chic; this is what they mean when the invitation to an event reads “business casual.”

The 41mm Code 11.59 looks strong, sophisticated, and confident. It’s refined and stylish but also casual and nonchalant. The 41mm is a great “dress watch 2.0” that understands the difference between “business casual” and “smart casual” and feels at home in both categories. Yes, it’s bigger than a traditional dress watch that went well with a three-piece suit, but you’re wearing a Kashmir turtleneck now, and a 41mm watch matches that look perfectly.

There’s also business in the back. Inside the 41mm model beats the 257-part automatic caliber 4302. This in-house 4Hz movement measures 32 × 4.9mm, displays the hours, minutes, central seconds, and date, and offers a 70-hour power reserve.

Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet

Thank you, Daniel Day-Lewis

Finally, let me explain why I didn’t comment on the €30K+ prices of both new Code 11.59 watches. When checking them out, I went into method-acting mode. I tried on and looked at these watches as a person who reads but doesn’t care about inflation, rising prices, and all that other bad stuff. Thank you, Daniel Day-Lewis, for the inspiration. Now let me know what you think, not of my acting performance but of the new 38mm and 41mm Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet Selfwinding models with their “Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50” dials.

Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet