“After a rather controversial initial impression and some noise in the collecting community, Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet is now finding its way in both AP’s collections and in the heart of collectors,” monochrome.com asserts, without a shred of evidence. The website introduces the latest addition to the Code 11.59 family: the Flying Tourbillon Chronograph. A timepiece that’s “here to show you the brand’s skills.” Fair enough but . . .
Is it a case of too little too late to rescue the not-so-beloved Code 11.59 from the indifference that, truth be told, cloaks the model like a fog bank shrouding the Golden Gate Bridge?
Or maybe it’s just the opposite: too much too soon. A hugely expensive limited edition watch riding the Code 11.59-branded tourbillon train to nowhere.
No matter what you think about Audemars Piguet’s new $260k white gold flying tourbillon chronograph, the 41mm timepiece has precious little to do with a “standard” or “entry level” Code 11.59.
The FTC’s case and rehaut are the only indication that it’s all in the family. As admirably, architecturally symmetrical as the dial is, it has no visual connection to the design code for the Code 11.59.
What it does have is a tourbillon. And a chronograph. Together for the first time!
Hot on the heels of the Code 11.59 open-worked tourbillon, ultra-thin perpetual calendar and minute repeater. All of which are fabulously expensive.
The “success” of these models – or at least their introduction alongside seemingly endless, mostly hideous variations of the once conservative Royal Oak – indicate that AP is abandoning the idea of an “entry level” Code 11.59.
You can see this re-prioritization in the model lineup photo on AP’s webpage. It’s not a $29k Code 11.59 luring viewers deeper into the model line. It’s a $46k Code 11.59 Chronograph.
The chrono’s positioned to the left of their vintage reproduction watch (which repackages the Code 11.59 movement). To the right of that: the Plain Jane Royal Oak. The Genta-designed watch whose success the Code 11.59 was supposed emulate and recreate. But didn’t.
Which is why AP’s chasing big money Code 11.59 showboats, rather than promoting the three-handed model as a way into brand, a base for future business.
Two questions. Is the Code 11.59 such a dog that it can’t be promoted? And has Audemars Piguet completely lost interest in the Code 11.59?
Check out the eBay ad above. If the seller gets what he’s asking, if he paid $30k for his Code 11.59 with the [relatively] popular blue dial, his watch will have depreciated $10k in one year.
If he paid $30k, he paid too much. The model’s available new for $24,120 from worldofluxury.us.com.
The market has spoken. As AP learned when their over-the-top launch promotion flopped like a freshly landed flounder, the Code 11.59 is a dead model walking.
The fact that the Code 11.59 sub-page – and only the Code 11.59 sub-page – was broken at the time of writing reflects a lack of corporate commitment to the model.
As does the fact that AP terminated many of the employees who worked on the watch and its marketing.
And then there’s this comment from former professional golfer and AP CEO François-Henry Bennahmias in a recent interview.
We have been working very seriously on what will come next. The good news is that, during confinement, our entire R&D department kept working.
I saw in the last few weeks two major inventions that could change the world of watchmaking, and they are coming out of Audemars Piguet.
Although the interview took place before the launch of the Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon Chronograph, I don’t think Mr. Bennahmias was referring to the Flying Tourbillon Chronograph as a game changer.
It’s equally unlikely he was hinting at a Code 11.59 Flying Tourbillon GMT Moon Phase Perpetual Calendar Supersonnerie Chronograph.
Whatever’s coming down the proverbial pike, AP has moved on from the Code 11.59.
They’re creating complicated Code 11.59 variations to milk high-end sales, even as they ease away from the base model (which looks a lot better with the smoked dials), preparing to launch The Next Big Thing. Again.
There is that.
The Code 11.59 was supposed to be the Next Big Thing: the watch that would end Audemars Piguet’s decades long reliance on the Royal Oak to maintain and grow their business.
Lest we forget, the Code 11.59 was shepherded into existence by the same executive promising a new dawn for Audemars Piguet. A man who declares “I don’t need four walls to sell you a watch tomorrow.”
Maybe so. But what Mr. Bennahmias does need is a relatively affordable watch that younger people want to buy. As he knows, the Code 11.59 ain’t it.