Audemars Piguet Reveals New Watches For ‘First Semester’ Of 2023 – Here Are Three Bangers
— 3 February 2023

Audemars Piguet Reveals New Watches For ‘First Semester’ Of 2023 – Here Are Three Bangers

— 3 February 2023
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

Of the three Grande Maisons which cap the pantheon of luxury watchmaking, Audemars Piguet has always been the most comfortable with bringing the noise. Earlier this week, the venerable brand did just that – opting to launch the first wave of its new watches for 2023, a month ahead of the usual horological hullabaloo that is Watches & Wonders.

Bearing in mind this is only part of the release schedule for the first ‘semester’ (i.e. six months) of 2023, there has already been quite a lot for journalists and collectors to chew through: including various incarnations of AP’s emblematic best-seller, the Royal Oak; and a soft reboot of the – in this author’s opinion – unfairly maligned Code 11.59 (the latter is rapidly shaping up to encompass the brand’s most interesting work in recent history).

Notwithstanding hyped-up fare like the new 37mm Royal Oak ‘Turquoise’ – undoubtedly soon coming to an Instagram feed near you – we thought we’d take a closer look at a trio of the new Audemars Piguet watches we judged most compelling. And before you ask: yes, there is a ‘Jumbo’.

RELATED: Audemars Piguet Kicks Off The Year With A Complicated New Look In Solid Gold

AP’s First All-Ceramic Offshore

Audemars Piguet new watches

In previous years, the Royal Oak Offshore collection – famous for its plus-sized diameter and sporty chronograph function – has gotten an occasional taste of the ceramic treatment. For 2023, Audemars Piguet has committed itself (for the first time in its history) to the manufacture of a top-to-toe Offshore in the proverbial stuff; and that means a case, bracelet and haptic elements which are almost exclusively made in the brand’s superlatively finished black ceramic.

From a distance, the new fully ceramic Offshore could easily be mistaken for its historic forebear. The design cues all hew closely to Emmanuel Gueit’s 1993 original, with the same 42mm x 15.3mm size factor; in-built tachymetre; ’12-9-6′ chronograph layout and petite tapisserie finishing.

Fortunately, the familiarity among collectors with this now-conventional aesthetic means the ceramic material itself is the undisputed draw. In typical fashion for AP, you can probably expect a level of finishing that would be largely unachievable anywhere else, given ceramic’s infamous brittleness and thermo-conductive properties.

Audemars Piguet new watches

The classic appearance of the new Offshore is in contrast to what’s going on underneath; as the watch makes use of the new Calibre 4404 – infinitely more sophisticated than the previous generation of JLC-based movements. It is a fully integrated movement with a flyback chronograph, constructed with the column wheel/vertical clutch system that is so endemic in high-end chronos. Bluntly put, the only real drawback is the pricing: at CHF$70,000 (~AU$108,322) it’s only a hair under what you’d pay for the variation in rose gold.

Plain Jane No More: A Refreshed Face For Code 11.59

By now, roasting the initial Code 11.59 collection has become one of the watch community’s most worn-out and unoriginal jokes. Although initially reviled by both press and members of the general public, AP made the decision to stick with the burgeoning Code DNA; and in the past four years, gradually honed the collection so that it is now gaining traction with a growing number of collectors.

Various complications and traditional metiers d’art (artistic crafts) have both been levied in order to enhance the Code 11.59’s appeal, but for a long time, the entry-level models – the ones punters initially handwaved away as luxury budget ‘Daniel Wellingtons’ – were missing an upgrade. That is, until now.

Addressing one of the major criticisms of the original design, these revamped Code 11.59s have traded out plain dials for a basketweave guilloché that is further detailed with a new handset and indexes – both of which offer a great deal more visual interest than what came before.

For the rippling aesthetic of the new dial, AP enlisted Yann von Kaenel (a master engraver based in Neuchâtel) who custom-made a series of guilloché dies for the brand. This enables the unique, basketwoven texture to be replicated via a stamping process – something that is usually not possible with conventional industrial dies.

The ‘Smoked Beige’ Code 11.59 is one of the only new watches from Audemars Piguet to combine stainless steel with a ceramic mid-case (pictured).

Consisting of six new releases (three time-and-daters; three chronographs) our pick of the bunch is the time-only model in ‘smoked beige’. The dial’s open layout gives you plenty of room to enjoy the various elements that make up this new execution overall, including the dynamic beige colourway – which only possible by treating the dial with a galvanic decorating process.

Finally, on an important note, it’s priced at CHF$23,000 (~AU$35,593) meaning that in the high-stakes world of AP, these Code 11.59s are among the least unaffordable of the new releases.

Re-Introducing the ‘Tuscan’ Royal Oak

Audemars Piguet new watches

A known grail amongst Royal Oak collectors, the original ‘Tuscan’ dials were an oddity that AP introduced in its line-up of traditional round case perpetual calendars. However in the 1980s and 1990s, the brand began to sprinkle it into a variety of Royal Oak references – including the famed Ref. 14802 ‘Jumbo’, which (in precious metal) routinely sells at auction for upwards of $300,000.

With a sticker price of CHF$65,000 (~AU$100,588) this new incarnation of the iconic Genta sports watch can hardly be considered a bargain, but it comes with certain advantages over the vintage ‘Tuscan’ Royal Oak that are a product of its modernity. Starting with the obvious: the new Ref. 16202 ‘Tuscan’ benefits from last year’s self-winding calibre 7121, a beautifully finished movement that imbues this entire Jumbo with a svelte and extremely thin profile on the wrist.

The execution of the dial is also typical of the current ‘Jumbo’ family; featuring an applied logo at 6 o’clock and quick-setting date wheel that AP has (blessedly) matched to the surrounding colour scheme.

Of course, the proverbial meat and potatoes concerns the dial – treated here, according to AP, with modern manufacturing techniques which make the new Tuscan Royal Oaks sufficiently distinct from their vintage predecessors. Unlike the latter (which utilised a hand-hammered finish), the modern Tuscan dial is first textured with a stamping process; and then PVD-treated in order to obtain a rich, prismatic shade of blue that alternates at different angles.

Thanks to the use of current technology, this Tuscan dial’s grain is also “finer and brighter” than what you’ll find in a vintage Royal Oak. As ever, whether you consider that a net positive depends entirely on your personal taste.

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].


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