Nothing about the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie is simple. The dial, the case and — most certainly — the movement are all exceedingly complex in design and construction — and is an excellent example of the whole watch being just as complex as the sum of its parts.
Let’s start with the Calibre 2956, a new movement with a lot going. This calibre makes minute repeaters and mere tourbillons look like proverbial Swiss child’s play. This calibre combines the traditional approach of a Grande Sonnerie, which levels up from the on-demand chime of the minute repeater by playing chiming the hours and quarters in passing – just because. There’s also a Petite Sonnerie mode that sees only the hours sounded in passing. And finally, there’s also a silent mode, in case you don’t want to disturb your close companions with the subtle tones of luxury.
What’s more, the fact that this movement employs a Carillon adds richness to those chimes, using three gongs rather than the more usual two. Audemars Piguet has paired this complication with innovations gleaned from 2015’s Concept Supersonnerie Minute Repeater. Specifically, the Supersonnerie improves the sound of the chimes by using patented case and gong construction techniques to improve the power, harmonic tone and acoustic quality of the chimes. And of course, all the elements of this impressive calibre are hand-finished.
Having put this level of effort into the movement, you might be tempted to let it shine and dial down other aspects of the watch – like the dial itself. But that’s not what Audemars Piguet has done here, topping their contemporary chiming masterpiece with a dial to match. The brand has partnered with renowned enameller Anita Porchet. Porchet is the pre-eminent expert in the field of fine enamel dials. For this trilogy of watches, she has created a trio of unique Grand Feu dials, with rich, deep colour and decorated using paillonné – a decorative enamel technique that sees fine gold spangles — each more than a century old, applied to the dial to create intriguing, beguiling patterns. And while the first watch will use one of Porchet’s creations, clients for the other two models can personalise their enamel dial.
Finally, the case. The Code 11.59 case caused a stir when it was initially announced, the case caused some consternation, but here, with the addition of some exceptional complication and an artisanal dial, the 41mm white gold case with its octagonal middle section and smooth lines looks very much at home. Of course, the 11.59 case wasn’t a simple affair to begin with, with its thin bezel and profoundly arched lugs, but add in the acoustic requirements of a chiming watch and the difficulty is dialled up to 11.
While its exceptionally high-end, and equally limited (to three pieces), the Audemars Piguet Code 11.598 Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie is a compelling juxtaposition of traditional craft and contemporary design and technology and feels like the most assured articulation of the 11.59 yet.
Hand-wound manufacture Calibre 2956 with grande sonnerie and petite sonnerie carillon, minute repeater, hours and minutes, with 489 parts, 48 hours of power reserve, beating at 3 Hz.
White gold, 41mm, screw-down crown, water-resistant to 20m.
Unique custom creations by Anita Porchet.
Hand-stitched ‘large square-scale’ blue alligator with white gold folding clasp.