Sometimes it can feel like function is divorced from fun in the world of watches: new watches boast about highly visible numerals or classic designs, like the ones used by the divers or pilots who once used them for their actual purposes, rather than strange new colors, shapes, or complications. But recently, fun and function seem to be settling into a happy marriage: the toolsiest of pieces are set with diamonds and notoriously difficult-to-engineer tourbillons are accompanied by fashionably bright colors. Nowhere is this combination more evident than in a new slate of watches from Audemars Piguet.
Today, Audemars Piguet is announcing three new versions of its Code 11.59 model as well as a fresh take on its Royal Oak Concept. Add in the blueberry Royal Oak that leaked a few weeks ago plus a purple-faced and tourbillon-equipped counterpart and Audemars Piguet is having one heck of a month. The most obvious takeaway from this new set of watches is that Audemars Piguet continues to butter its bread with lots of color.
The standout from the new collection, for me, has to be the seemingly Blue Man Group-indebted edition of the Royal Oak. As mechanical watches have gotten more comfortable leaning towards the fashion end of the spectrum, brands like Audemars Piguet have embraced color and unexpected materials wholeheartedly. The ceramic Royal Oaks were already, arguably, the coolest pieces coming out of Le Brassus (where AP is located) when they were made in less-exciting shades like black and white. Now, the watch comes in blue—BLUE! The commitment to the bit is what’s really exciting here. This isn’t an accent, a pop of color, or a funky seconds hand—the bracelet, case, bezel, and face just blue-d itself. (Naturally, the numerals are made out of white gold.)
But Audemars Piguet didn’t put away its Magic Markers after it was done with that Royal Oak. Earlier this year, AP released what it’s calling the RD#3 (referring to the brand’s third Research & Development project: a flying tourbillon that got its hands on those new actually effective slimming drugs) with a classic navy dial. Now, the brand is releasing the same watch with a blessedly not-classic shade stolen from Grimace. Not to be left out of the party, the Royal Oak Concept line, where AP concocts more experimental versions of its classic model, is also adding a new watch in a rugged dark-green.
The bulk of the new collection focuses on the Code 11.59, a relatively new model that launched in 2019 and has lived mostly in the shadow of the much-loved Royal Oak since that time. However, these new models might go a long way in giving the Code its breakout moment. Two out of the three new watches come in black—one with a onyx face!—but the last leans on AP’s reliable bag of tricks. Like the other new watches announced today, this Code comes in all blue. Like the new Royal Oak, this watch is (almost) completely azure. Everything but the case (white gold) and the hands (pink gold) is made up in bright blue.
Sometimes, it feels like watch brands can only concentrate on one color at a time. In late 2020, I wrote about how every new piece seemed to come in red. Then, 2021 was the year of the green watch, which gave way to this year’s obsession with (Tiffany) blue. But the watch world, and Audemars Piguet, is finding out what those who follow fashion closely have known for some time now: there doesn’t need to be one single color of the year. Anything can be cool right now, and colorful watches in forest green and blue certainly fit the bill.