Within the 4 years since Audemars Piguet launched its Code 11.59 assortment—and it was a set, with the model debuting six fashions without delay—the final opinion of the road has shifted. Greeted with kneejerk jeering and derision when it was first proven at SIHH in 2019 (the present’s final yr), Audemars Piguet has remained vigilant in its efforts to determine the Code 11.59 as extra than simply “not any of the Royal Oaks.” Whereas the preliminary assortment was undoubtedly and objectively spectacular (by no means thoughts the naysayers), the hits have stored coming, garnering a 2019 GPHG award, and most lately housing the return of the starwheel. Audemars Piguet is useless critical about this assortment, and it’s exhibiting simply that by utilizing it to ship most complex wristwatch it’s ever made, the all-new Code 11.59 Extremely-Complication Universelle RD#4.
The eager observer/common reader may also have caught the “RD#4” on the finish. Not solely is that this probably the most sophisticated wristwatch the model has ever made, however the fourth within the “Analysis and Improvement” collection. First launched in 2014 with the Royal Oak Idea Acoustic Analysis watch, Audemars Piguet makes use of this designation to showcase its most spectacular horological achievements. The RD#1 was adopted in 2019 by the thinnest computerized perpetual calendar ever made (on the time of its launch), and in 2022, with the Royal Oak Self-Winding Flying Tourbillon Further-Skinny RD#3 for the model’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations. The frequency of RD releases appears to be selecting up tempo, which suggests AP is both enjoying it free with the appellation or, extra doubtless, that its growth group is simply extremely productive. Whereas the RD collection will little question proceed past the watch mentioned herein, the Universelle RD#4 looks like a end result (and mixture) of a lot of the R&D that the model has performed over the previous decade. The Universelle RD#4 was reportedly seven years within the making and comprises 40 capabilities and 23 issues, paying tribute to and taking inspiration from the 1899 Audemars Piguet L’Universelle pocket watch (which boasted 26 capabilities and 19 issues). Audemars Piguet is debuting the mannequin in 4 variants: two in 18k white gold with strong dials in black or beige, and two with what the model describes as “architectural” dials exhibiting off the motion and provided in 18k white gold or 18k pink gold.
Even AP, in its press launch, doesn’t faux that every little thing it counts among the many 23 issues is essential. To wit, it counts the minutes and hours counter of the chronograph and the silent mode of the Sonnerie as issues. So, which matter? Chief amongst these 23 are a Grande and Petite Sonnerie (together with AP’s Supersonnerie, which sees the gongs mounted to a sound board lined by a caseback with openings), minute repeater (which, let’s face it, is simply extra dinging), a perpetual calendar (with a two-digit yr aperture, a jumbo date at 12, and fortunately omitting the intercalary year show, that particularly superfluous indicator of quadrennial utility), a split-second flyback chronograph (with a swivel clutch to mitigate the arms stuttering when began), and a flying tourbillon (which, I wish to clarify, shouldn’t be actually a complication, however an isochronistic compensatory machine). The dials show these fundamental issues fairly ably, with no feeling of muddle and a delightful symmetry (and I applaud AP for not making an attempt to place the gongs on show, as many different manufacturers do). The beige and black dials are each described to have an opaline end, giving them a little bit of luster; each function the gathering’s hallmark baton arms, which, together with the utilized indices and brand, are the identical steel because the instances. On the architectural dials, the indices are omitted to permit the open-worked dial—with bridges and ending to match the instances–to face out. My favourite half about these two dials is how the bridges are prolonged to border the moonphase, yr, and large date. My least favourite factor is that, like most such dials, they seem to drastically cut back legibility. There’s one closing distinction associated to these subdials to notice: On the open dials, rotating date discs concentric with the chronograph subdials are used, whereas on the strong dials, the disc is hid and the date displayed by means of apertures. That is some next-level variability for a single motion, because it needs to be made to additionally accommodate the broader date wheels on the strong dials. Some could also be postpone by the beige dial’s use of white wheels for the date show, or how these home windows on the strong dials encroach into the chronograph subdials.
The Universelle RD#4 case required an upsize because of the motion, that means it measures 42mm-wide and 15.55mm-thick (in comparison with the Code 11.59’s typical 41mm instances, a few of that are as skinny as 10.7mm). The case design itself ought to be largely acquainted: An octagonal midcase recollects the Royal Oak’s design, whereas a skinny, spherical bezel and caseback, hollowed lugs, and a curved sapphire crystal enable the Code 11.59 watches to do their very own, very fashionable factor. The hand-finishing is carried over from the Royal Oaks, with satin brushing and polished bevels. The standouts are—actually—the crown and pushers, six in whole for controlling and adjusting each operate of the watch. Helpfully, AP has labeled them with their respective capabilities. However there are two compelling parts of this case. First, the multifunction crown and chronograph pushers: not solely do they function the split-second chronograph (the winding crown doubles because the split-second activator), however they’re additionally used to set the chiming operate and alter the perpetual calendar (the 9 o’clock aspect sees devoted pushers for the activating the repeater, adjusting the weekday, and setting the moonphase). Second, the watch includes a vented hunter caseback (the model calls it “secret”) in matching gold that amplifies the chime when closed and gives a take a look at the motion when opened, together with the Supersonnerie sapphire membrane. The watches come paired with a black alligator strap and a branded gold folding clasp, but additionally embrace a hybrid black calfskin strap with rubber backing, most likely for while you put on this watch to the health club.
The brand new calibre 1000 combines numerous earlier applied sciences, just like the perpetual calendar borrowed from the RD#2, and improvements that maintain the motion as compact as doable, similar to merging the split-seconds mechanism into the central rotor’s ball bearing. The motion is completed to the identical exacting requirements because the case, with the bridges polished and stain brushed by hand. Whereas all 4 fashions really function openworked actions, solely the open dials prolong the bridges round sure indicators and use the open concentric date wheels as talked about. These two fashions additionally profit from two-tone actions, with black base plates creating distinction to higher spotlight the remainder of the mechanics. The motion options 1,140 elements, together with 90 jewels, and operates at 3hz with an influence reserve of 64 hours (although anticipate this to run rather a lot shorter when you’re timing laps, having fun with the gongs of the Sonnerie, and activating the minute repeater each quarter hour—and when you’re not doing that, why do you even have the watch?).
In case you’re not impressed, try to be. If not for the technical achievement of jamming so many capabilities right into a wristwatch, for the feat of managing to show these issues so neatly. Maybe it will be useful to check the Universellle RD#4 to its two closest contemporaries: The Patek Phillipe Grandmaster Chime and the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600. The previous (which I prefer to name the Patty P Grandaddy Ringer) has a case that’s .5mm thicker and a full 5mm wider, and which manages to seize the stodginess of its maker in full. The latter is thinner however 3mm wider, and requires a PhD and/or vital prayer to learn. Each should make use of each side of the watch to show their issues. You don’t want to like the Code 11.59 design (although through the years, I’ve come to be fairly keen on it) to understand this watch. Although, when you’ve bought some prayers left over after making an attempt to learn the VC Celestia, they could allow you to get hold of the AP. The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Extremely-Complication Universelle RD#4’s pricing was not out there on the time of publishing, however you may be assured that it includes extra digits than you’d want and may be described as financially ruinous. For extra info, please go to the model’s web site.