Over at HoDinkee, our favorite champagne socialist tackles Audemars Piguet’s new pseudo-vintage self-winding chronograph – a watch we condemned as a lazy and cynical attempt to sell unused Code 11.59 movements. Surprise! Stephen Pulvirent has a different take . . .
In-Depth: The Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 (And Some Thoughts On How To Judge A Watch) isn’t Mr. Pulvirent’s first bite of the apple. His previous post is no different from this War and Peace-length second go. In both cases, HoDinkee’s Managing Editor bends over backwards to say nice things about the watch – to the point where I’m surprised he isn’t permanently disabled.
Round two starts with a lengthy history of the infinitely superior AP 1941 chronograph reference 1533 – the watch that “inspired” the typographically challenged [Re]master01. Referencing the new piece, Mr. Pulvirent tries to placate justifiably skeptical readers with mealy-mouthed fence straddling. Highlights include . . .
If you’re expecting a vintage chronograph, you might find [its size] jarring, but the watch feels perfectly normal in the context of other contemporary competitors.
I find this quirky color mix really charming, though I know it’s a love-or-hate for most people.
Setting aside whether or not you might like its use in this watch, the caliber 4409 is an incredible movement.
Tuckered-out from all that punch pulling, Mr. Pulvirent surrenders the floor to “a mix of collectors, auction experts, vintage dealers, and scholars (many of them more than one).” Whatever that means. Mr. Pulvirent needs these experts to do what he can’t (without losing his cushy job): rubbish the [Re]master01.
But not before he gives the watch’s supporters a chance to declare the retro-retread the greatest thing since the Royal Oak. Specifically, the man who sold the original chronograph to Audemars Piguet for $314k, the auctioneer who benefitted from the sale and the dealer who may well have orchestrated the transfer.
The inspiration watch is very likely one of the finest vintage watches I have ever had the honor to own,” [the original watch’s owner Paramico] Alfredo told me. “Hence my heart very warmly welcomes the [Re]Master01.”
“How did AP manage to get the dial so right?” remarked Aurel Bacs, head of the Phillips Watch Department and the man who lowered the hammer when Alfredo sold the ref. 1533 in 2015.
“Aren’t there enough good new ideas? Are the best watch designs really already behind us?” With the [Re]master01, though, the combination of new and old saves it from this pitfall. “I don’t think AP set out to copy the original,” says Ku. “This watch is a vintage design with a modern caliber, and in that respect, AP nailed it.”
Audemars Piguet may not have “set out” to copy the original, but as the pics in my article demonstrate, that’s exactly what they did. After warming-up the crowd with self-serving sycophantic drivel, Mr. Pulvirent finally allows a dissenting voice.
The [Re]master01 reinterprets one of AP’s rare chronograph wristwatches with the manufacture’s latest technology, but they have fallen in the trap of retro-style,” says collector and author John Goldberger. “They are investing a lot in their heritage department, building the new museum, publishing great books on their historic timepieces, and enhancing their excellent restoration department, but they have betrayed the commitment to be an innovative company.”
Notice that the second part of that quote is designed to soften the blow. Not to put too fine a point on it, Mr. Pulvirent’s “review” is a barely-disguised blowjob. After a bit more sucking up, we get one more shot at a watch that deserves an artillery bombardment.
“In the present chronograph, I do not like the dimensions and the glazed back, despite AP having done a great job on the dial and in the case finishing. I am just not a big fan of this blend of heritage and modernity.”
This would have been a great time for Mr. Pulvirent to say something nice about the watch and let us return to social distancing. No such luck. Instead we get paragraph after paragraph about Vacheron and Patek’s similarly retro pieces. Context you know. Concluding with . . .
The [Re]master01 is a watch of dramatic contrasts. It asks you to question what it means for something to be modern or vintage in nature and why you might want it that way in the first place.
The answer to that question couldn’t be easier: Audemars Piguet created this watch to make money with a movement it spent millions developing – that didn’t find favor in the Code 11.59. An argument that doesn’t make it in the door at HoDinkee.
Ultimately, whether or not you’re in the market for a modern-but-vintage-inspired chronograph from one of the world’s great watchmakers, the [Re]master01 is something worthy of your attention.
In other words, whether or not you like the [Re]master01 you should like the [Re]master01. But OMG, there’s more. Mercifully enough (or not), the end is just over the rhetorical horizon.
So after much hemming and hawing, and a bit of internal uncertainty, this is why I like the [Re]master01 and think it’s a good thing for watch collecting at large. Instead of doing simple fan service or pandering to an existing market, Audemars Piguet decided to offer up a new take on the neo-vintage trend that’s dominated the watch world for the last few years.
The brand created a watch with a real point of view that does as much to teach us about why we like watches in the first place and how we judge them as it does to sell us on itself. [Re]master01 is definitely beautiful, but more than that, it’s smart. And that’s a watch trend I can get behind.
If this [Re]master01 “review” isn’t a perfect example of pandering I don’t know what is. One thing I do know: Mr. Pulvirent’s “review” is as critical as a HoDinkee gets. As such it’s proof positive that the website is nothing more than a shill for the industry it pretends to cover. If you want the truth about watches, HoDinkee is the last place you should look.
Really digging this blog.
My view on this watch is slightly more charitable, but I appreciate how considered, non-deferential, and honest this review is. It’s a breath of fresh air. The world needs more content like this.
Thanks for reading. We’ll do our level best to maintain the standard. Please share links with friends.