A recent thread about unpopular watches inspired me to write this one about Audemars Piguet's Code 11.59 watch because I am dumbfounded by that watch's unpopularity.
I think the Code is awesome! I liked it the instant I saw it because its styling read to me as at once sporty and dressy without being a "porthole" watch. The RO aligns with the feeling I get wearing a sport jacket and wing collar shirt to smarten jeans, whereas the Code is like toning down a tuxedo by wearing a necktie, or by going open-collar as one might at a late night cocktail get together after a formal affair.
The fundamental essence of jeans is casual, but they can be dressed up. A tuxedo is irrevocably a dress outfit, but its formality can be attenuated. The latter is what I see in the Code.
The Code is clearly a dress watch, yet the raised "chapter ring" evokes dive watch design language. The case's bands of satin and polished impart casualness to what is otherwise a dress watch, doing so in exactly the opposite way of the Royal Oak (and Nautilus, for that matter). Its brushed surfaces making it feel a little laid back; the RO's polished highlights dress it up. The skeletonized lugs do the same thing again; moreover, they create interest and lighten the overall look.
Then there is the Code's ability to what few watches can: wow me as a skeleton watch. When I look at the Jules Audemar, RO and Millenary skeleton watches, along with nearly every other skeleton watch I've seen, I see a mass of parts that do little but make the watch harder to read. I'm reminded of exposed guts of flayed frogs in 9th grade biology class.
Those watches look like AP basically just didn't install the dial and called it done, though admittedly they did decorate much of the exposed guts. That said, that decoration yet seems like "porcine lipstick."
The Code openwork watch is, in contrast, gorgeous. It's clear that watch was designed from the ground up to be skeletonized and look good as such. That's the only way to obtain the symmetry that watch has.
Yes, it's still hard to read, but the bones distracting my eye are artfully arranged instead of looking like the watch designer channeled Jackson Pollack or spilled all of his boxes of watch parts, and, with outstanding luck, they ended up inside a watch case and happening to fit together and function as a watch.
I love too that it's a modern design that borrows some RO design ethos and some JA ethos and combines them in a fresh package. The watch truly is the "love child" of the JA and RO, born of them, similar to them, yet having it's own personality.
And then there's the double-domed crystal...the more fact that there's more to say about it than note its material and shape is notewothy. It enigmatically makes the dial appeanoteworthy. I think the optical illusion is cool. It's a subtle surprise.
In the end, I think the Code is a great amalgam of dress and sport themes that evolves a new paradigm, at least among mainstream makers, for how to approach disabusing dress watches of their stuffiness.
Now if only AP introduces a steel or titanium version.....Then again, the Code may remain underappreciated, and that's a good thing for those of us considering buying one.
- Roger Dubuis watches blend formal and casual design language too, but sans subtlety. The Code is a demure execution of the theme, but its message must be sought ou; it's not throwing a temper tantrum, if you will.