The enigma of Code 11.59
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  1. #1
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    The enigma of Code 11.59

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.





    Note:
    1. 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.
    Last edited by MDNoobie; 4 Weeks Ago at 07:37. Reason: Typo correction
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  2. #2
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    Re: The enigma of Code 11.59

    Well, to each his own, what we like is of course subjective. Personally I have a strong dislike for slanted date windows at 4:30, so I don't care for the Codes that have that. I do like the case design, which is quite different and nicely done.

    It's much easier to design a cool skeleton when it has a tourbillon, like the first one you prefer, because they leave more empty space. I designed a custom skeleton with Roland Murphy, variations of which he now put in his standard model lineup. I wanted a more industrial, less curlicued look with as much open space as possible, but also needed it to be legible, so there is a well-defined but thin ring that supplies markers. Roland designed a very cool small seconds implementation that uses three different length hands and results in almost as much open space in that area of the watch as a tourbillon.

    You may like the design, you may not...but it is steel, not precious metal, and skirts easily between sporty and dressy IMO.

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    P.S. It's difficult to see the finishing on the parts in that photo, they have a nice pebble finish:

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  3. #3
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    Re: The enigma of Code 11.59

    Quote Originally Posted by mlcor View Post
    Well, to each his own, what we like is of course subjective. Personally I have a strong dislike for slanted date windows at 4:30, so I don't care for the Codes that have that. I do like the case design, which is quite different and nicely done.

    It's much easier to design a cool skeleton when it has a tourbillon, like the first one you prefer, because they leave more empty space. I designed a custom skeleton with Roland Murphy, variations of which he now put in his standard model lineup. I wanted a more industrial, less curlicued look with as much open space as possible, but also needed it to be legible, so there is a well-defined but thin ring that supplies markers. Roland designed a very cool small seconds implementation that uses three different length hands and results in almost as much open space in that area of the watch as a tourbillon.

    You may like the design, you may not...but it is steel, not precious metal, and skirts easily between sporty and dressy IMO.

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    P.S. It's difficult to see the finishing on the parts in that photo, they have a nice pebble finish:

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    I agree that the watch teeters between dress and non-dress and can go either way.

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    Re: The enigma of Code 11.59

    Quote Originally Posted by MDNoobie View Post
    I agree that the watch teeters between dress and non-dress and can go either way.
    That’s very polite and circumspect of you.


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    Re: The enigma of Code 11.59

    Quote Originally Posted by MDNoobie View Post

    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 spoty 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.


    Interesting thread, and while I understand your points, I personally dislike this watch collection very much for some of the reasons you actually fancy it.
    It is all very subjective of course, but I really hate the fact that the watch is a "dress" watch with a contemporary design language. I find the design of the numeral completely out of place, and I am not even talking about the absolutely terrible legibility that they induce. The date window is probably the second worst feature of the watch after the numerals, as it is positioned in a non symmetric way, awkwardly bent and revealing numerals in a different font, it's a miss for me. I really like the hands however, so there's that.


    Everybody seems to agree on the design of the case, saying that it is interesting and well made, and creates a beautiful frame for the piece. While I find it interesting and well made, again, I fully disagree with the choice for a dress watch. It looks like a retrofuturistic cubic design. The consensus is that it is a good case design, my opinion is that it doesn't work for a dress watch of this caliber. Patek, VC, Breguet, FP Journe, Roger Smith, George Daniels, VOutilainen, they all have interesting case designs that match the tone of the watch. This one has something that feels like it wants to be different, and that could work with a different design, but not for a dress watch in my opinion.

    Regarding the skeletonization, it reminds me too much of the GP Laureato and some work that Concepto has done with RJ and Jacob and Co to find this "new" or special. While I like it, not having mainplates in the back (as opposed to the RO skeleton) makes it even less legible.

    As I see it, the "amalgam of dress and sport" as you say is something that feels really undesirable to me. I like when manufactures go all the way, no compromise, and offer something truly new and interesting. This Code collection does not look appealing to me from a style point of view, even if the movements and execution/finishing are neat.

    All the best,
    A.

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    Re: The enigma of Code 11.59

    I had the opportunity to handle the three-hand and chronograph iterations of the Code 11:59 at the boutique in Atlanta sometime last year. I thought the three-hand was significantly better in the metal than in pictures, but it still didn't blow me away. I thought the chronograph, on the other hand, was a really nice piece either way.
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    Re: The enigma of Code 11.59

    Hi MDNoobie,

    Excellent write-up. The overwhelming consensus was that the 11:59 was/is a dud, uninspired and derivative of other watches. While in some ways I agree, I feel that experiencing the watches in the metal may change some people’s opinion.

    The case is deceiving... it looks simple at first glance yet once you have it in your hand you see it’s quite complex and interesting. The crystal is unlike anything I have ever owned. Prior to the Code11:59, I had considered an Aventurine Dial from Lange. As luck would have it, along came the 11:59 with Aventurine dial in a perpetual calendar, which to my eyes is the nicest overall watch in the lineup. To each his own I guess...



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    Re: The enigma of Code 11.59

    I'm glad you like the watch but I find it utterly uninspired in every iteration but the aventurine dials and, even those, I believe would look better in almost any other watch.
    Last edited by MZhammer; April 29th, 2020 at 02:08.
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    Re: The enigma of Code 11.59

    Quote Originally Posted by MZhammer View Post
    I'm glad you like the watch but I find it utterly uninspired in every iteration but the aventurine dials and, even those, I believe would look better in almost any other watch.
    Well, you certainly speak for the majority


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    Re: The enigma of Code 11.59

    The adventurine perpetual is quite nice, and in some senses quite distinct from the other offerings from the high-end houses. Generally a step more casual, as the OP says. I can certainly see why some people may prefer it over dressier alternatives. It's arguably more interesting than VC's Overseas Perpetual for instance.
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