The last year has been a big year for Audemars Piguet. With the 50th anniversary of their iconic Royal Oak, the expectation had been that all of their focus would be on Gerald Genta's timeless design, but instead, AP have been continuing to branch out and develop their offerings much like any other year.
While they certainly did revamp the Royal Oak collection in line with its anniversary at the beginning of the year, they have just gone to prove that they are focused on a holistic approach to developing their catalog. While they recently added a new variant to the Royal Oak collection just a week ago, it was only a hint of what was to come.
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Latest in Flying Tourbillons
The Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin RD#3 ref. 26660ST.OO.1356ST.01 was launched last week as part of the Royal Oaks' ongoing birthday celebrations and certainly excited AP's host of fans and collectors. Offered within the same 37mm case that previous Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Extra-Thin RD#3's have featured, the new titanium variant doesn't set the watchmaking world alight.
Still, it did demonstrate one thing, AP's focus to continue developing the Royal Oak collection. Offered with a beautiful plum Petite Tapisserie dial, it is a remarkably stunning watch with its automatic cal. 2968 boasting an incredible flying tourbillon through a large aperture at 6 o'clock that displays its piece de resistance. This tourbillon was AP's hint at what was to come, as they have just followed the ref. 26660ST from last week with four new tourbillon models.
Doubling Down on the Code 11.59
Perhaps one of the most controversial watch launches in a long time was the Code 11.59. Breaking from tradition, AP launched the Code 11.59 in 2019 as a wildly different kind of timepiece from anything else they had ever done before. With a unique construction and design, new fonts, and moving in a completely new stylistic direction, the Code 11.59 broke into new territory for AP.
As a result, some of AP's collectors, and the general public were turned off the new launch. However, since the launch, AP has been doubling down on the collection with new complications, colorways, materials, and just about everything else they could do.
Part of that doubling down has been the three new variants that AP just released as part of this four-model launch, the ref. 26399NR.OO.D002KB.01, the ref. 26600NB.OO.D346KB.01 and the ref. 26396NB.OO.D002KB.01 – three incredible watches that we'll dive into.
Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph ref. 26399NR.OO.D002KB.01
Starting with perhaps the most distinctive of the three takes us to what is also the most complicated of the three models. Made of 18tk pink gold and featuring an incredibly openworked dial with a black lacquered flange, we have the Flying Tourbillon Chronograph ref. 26399NR.
Powered by the automatic cal. 2952, this 41mm stunner features a black ceramic mid-case and its two eponymous complications, a flying tourbillon, much like last week's Royal Oak launch, and a chronograph function that seamlessly blends into its openworked display. Limited to 50 units and priced at CHF 272,500 (excluding taxes), this incredible model shows that Audemars Piguet are determined to continue growing the Code 11.59 aesthetically and in terms of the types of movements and complications its features.
Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked ref. 26600NB.OO.D346KB.01
In keeping with the openworked theme, we have the ref. 26600NB, another limited edition release of 50 units made of 18kt white gold that has been paired with a blue ceramic mid-case and a blue CVD inner bezel. Furthermore, the openworked cal. 2948 is also an electric shade of blue thanks to a complex ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) process that is applied to the cal. 2948's mainplate and bridges, which are visible from the dial and through the open caseback.
Priced at CHF 199,000 (excluding taxes), the ref. 26600NB will certainly only be for the richest of VIP clients, much like the last model, but that doesn't stop us thinking about how good this 41mm beauty would look on a Miami blue Horus Strap.
Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon ref. 26396NB.OO.D002KB.01
Breaking away from the limited-to-50-piece openworked combination we had with the last two Code 11.59s from this drop, we have the final variant, the Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon ref. 26396NB, a somewhat restrained timepiece compared to the previous two Code 11.59s we discussed. Featuring a 41mm 18kt white gold case with a black ceramic midcase, it boasts a black onyx dial that is almost entirely devoid of markings except for the minute track and AP's logo at 12 o'clock in rose gold accent colors.
With its aperture at 6 o'clock providing a view of its flying tourbillon and nothing else, unlike its skeletonized siblings, the ref. 26396NB is easily the most understated of the entire release. Powered by the cal. 2950, this timepiece sports 65 hours of power reserve and comes in at 11.8mm thick. Of course, with its relative lack of complexity, it is also the least expensive of the Code 11.59 trio and commands an MSRP of CHF 146,700 (excluding taxes).
Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT ref. 26589IO.OO.D056CA.01
Moving on from the Code 11.59 trio takes us to the last of AP's most recent launch, the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT. Living within AP's experimental Royal Oak Concept collection, the ref. 26589IO is in keeping with the brand's daring design approach with a large 44mm titanium case with a green ceramic bezel and the incredible manual-wind cal. 2954 movement.
Feeding more into its green aesthetic, the ref. 26589IO also boasts green CVD-colored inserts matching the bezel and green strap's hue. With its two-material black and green aesthetic, incredibly complex movement, and useful GMT function, the ref. 26589IO comes in at a rather expensive CHF 198,900 (excluding taxes) – it's a lot of money, but to be fair, it's also a lot of watch!