Audemars Piguet expands its Code 11.59 Supersonnerie offeringsBy Suan Futt Yeo
For dizzying complexity and the union of engineering, craft and artistry, chiming timepieces sit at the pinnacle of high-complication watchmaking and is a genre over which Audemars Piguet has demonstrated mastery since its inception in 1875. According to the manufacture, its archives show that of the 1,625 watches produced between 1882 and 1892, more than half included a chiming mechanism, and it is a reflection of its rarity that only a scant 28 were grande sonneries – watches that strike the hours and quarter-hours autonomously, hence requiring integrated movement construction, as opposed to minute repeaters that strike on demand, that admit of more modular – and technically less complex – construction. Skip to the present, and Audemars Piguet is firing into 2023 with not one but a trio of grande sonnerie wristwatches – the Code 11.59 Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie in three flavours of gold; in addition to a new Code 11.59 Minute Repeater Supersonnerie.
Code 11.59 Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie
The “Supersonnerie” debuted in 2015’s Royal Oak Concept collection and distinguishes itself from conventional sonneries by featuring gongs mounted on a sound board instead of the main plate of the movement, behind a caseback with openings. The effect is sharpened clarity and expanded volume, hence the “super” moniker. At the same time, three gongs and hammers (“carillon”) are used in place of the traditional dual-gong setup, so that the quarter hours can be sounded with three successive notes (high, middle and low) instead of two.
Driven by the manual-wind cal. 2956 that is a symphony of 498 parts, the Code 11.59 Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie will sound the time over a minimum 48 hours of power reserve, with a selector that allows the wearer to choose between grand strike (hour and quarter hours), small strike (hours only), or horror of horrors, silent mode.
The present Code 11.59 collection already includes a stunning Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie with a dreamy guilloché and flinqué enamel dial; what’s new for 2023 is Audemars Piguet releasing the watch as a trilogy, in a choice of three gold cases – pink, white, and yellow gold; and integrating this for the first time in the Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie collection, with a black ceramic caseband. We can’t say if the use of this ultra-hard material spells even more sound echoing about without degradation, but it certainly recasts the look of the watch into something very contemporary and even sporty, in its two-tone finery. It’s a stunning look that is beautifully complemented by the open-worked impression, courtesy of the transparent sapphire crystal dial that makes up for not having a display back. In addition, the yellow gold model of the trilogy also represents the first use of this material in the Code 11.59 collection.
The Supersonnerie represents the sum of Audemars Piguet’s focus, know-how and best effort applied to perfecting a cherished complication. This took eight years of research in collaboration with the EPFL (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne), and not least, input from a community of watchmakers, technicians, academics and musicians in refining case construction to tune its song.
The new timepieces feature black rubber-coated straps with matching gold stitching, calfskin lining and gold AP folding clasp.
Code 11.59 Minute Repeater Supersonnerie
Audemars Piguet’s Supersonnerie know-how also finds its way into a minute repeater, in a round-faced pink gold case with an octagonal caseband made of black ceramic. A first for this complication is the smoked sapphire crystal dial that offers a peek into the workings of the manual-wind cal. 2953 offers a power reserve of 72 hours.
According to the manufacture, the pink gold hands, hour-markers, brand signature and other gold accents on the dial were achieved through a galvanic growth process akin to 3D printing.
Turning the watch over reveals a solid caseback with apertures, a defining feature of the manufacture’s Supersonnerie technology. The gongs and hammers cannot be seen, but the trade-off is focus on better and louder sound — something which has seen a measure of degradation in the transition from the pocket watch minute repeater to its wristwatch implementation, especially in meeting the demand for enhanced water resistance.
The Code 11.59 Minute Repeater Supersonnerie is matched with a black textured rubber-coated strap.
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie
Movement: Manual-wind cal. 2956; 498 parts; 3Hz; power reserve 48 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, grand sonnerie and petite sonnerie carillon Supersonnerie
Case: 41mm x 13.5mm; 18K pink gold, white gold or yellow gold; black ceramic caseband; water resistant to 20m
Strap: Black rubber-coated strap with matching gold coloured stitching, 18k gold AP folding clasp
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Minute Repeater Supersonnerie
Movement: Manual-wind cal. 2953; 362 parts; 3Hz; power reserve 72 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, minute repeater Supersonnerie
Case: 41mm x 13.6mm; 18K pink gold; black ceramic caseband; water resistant to 20m
Strap: Black rubber-coated strap with 18K pink gold AP folding clasp