Here’s a fun fact about Audemars Piguet: more than half of the 1,625 watches it produced between 1882 and 1892 included a chiming mechanism, of which 28 were grand sonneries. In 1892, in collaboration with Louis Brandt & Frère, Audemars Piguet made the first minute repeater wristwatch (29.3 mm) with two hammers set at a distance that could strike the hours, quarters and minutes on request. So when it comes to chiming watches, it’s safe to say that this isn’t Audemars Piguet’s first rodeo. The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie is a trilogy of repeaters that contain the latest iteration of that aggregation of know-how.
The chiming function includes Audemars Piguet’s patented Supersonnerie technology introduced in 2015, in which the gongs, instead of being attached to the mainplate, are anchored to a component that serves as a soundboard that improves sound transmission. It works like an echo chamber that boosts the chime, giving it the watch acoustic performance of a pocket watch, which has a case large enough to allow the sound to resonate. To this, Audemars Piguet has added a carillon—meaning that it has three gongs and hammers instead of the traditional two gongs—which strikes the quarter hour in three successive notes (high, middle and low) instead of two. This is traditional watchmaking at its most advanced, yet presented in a deliberately modern package.
In a fusion of traditional and contemporary elements, the cases are 18-karat pink, yellow or white gold combined with a case side made of ceramic and a black opaline inner bezel. The openworked movement, plate, hands and markers are coloured to match the gold case. It’s the first time black ceramic has been incorporated into the gold case of the Grand Sonnerie Supersonnerie Carillon collection, and the first time yellow has been used in the Code 11.59 line.
Another first is the sapphire dial that allows for a full view of the movement, newly finished for the occasion. Modifications to the hand-wound calibre 2956 dial include the openworking of the bridges at four and six o’clock, removal of the railway track and a change from a circular graining decoration in favour of the satin finish and traits tirés beveling on the upper components. The perlage visible on the plate below gives us an idea of the depth of this highly complex movement.
The case of the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie measures 41 mm, and it comes on a black rubber-coated strap with matching gold stitching, a calfskin lining and a gold AP folding clasp. Each of the three versions is one-of-a-kind and priced at CHF 715,000 (just over RM3.4 million).
Previously published on Robb Report.