udemars Piguet introduces two new Selfwinding Chronograph timepieces in its Code 11.59 line. The models present a highly contemporary two-tone case design. While the bezel, lugs and caseback are made in 18-carat white or pink gold, the octagonal middle case is honed from black ceramics. Blending advanced technology and time-honoured tradition, the case required complex programming, dedicated tools and highly specialised human talents for its industrialisation and the hand finishing of its components.
The ceramic middle case has been crafted in collaboration with Bangerter, a Swiss family-owned company specialised in the manufacture of precision components made of advanced ceramics, tungsten carbide and other super hard materials.
The manufacturing of the Selfwinding Chronograph’s middle case follows a complex industrial flow. Zirconium Oxide (ZrO2) powder is combined with binder content, the composition of which remains the secret of the company. This feedstock is given preliminary shape on latest generation 5-axis CNC machine technology. After this first machining process, the binder is removed. The watch component obtains its hardness by sintering at approximately 1,400° C.
A challenge with ceramics is that the material shrinks during the sintering process by about 25 %. The component is then hard machined with high-precision diamond tools. Its geometrical surfaces are prepolished and pre-satin-brushed, before being finished by hand by highly trained experts.
The ceramic and gold components of the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet case have been all hand-finished with the brand’s trademark alternation of satinbrushing and polished chamfers to the slightest detail – a renewed challenge to achieve perfect alignment between the gold and ceramic components’ rounded and angular surfaces. This contrast of materials and hand finishing also brings an interesting play of light.
The 18-carat pink and white gold models are both complemented with a smoked dark grey dial adorned with a vertical satin-finished base, matching the refined satin-brushing adorning the case. The black chronograph counters and inner bezel further give depth to the dial, while subtly recalling the case’s black ceramic octagonal middle case. Last but not least, the 18-carat pink or white gold hour-markers and hands add a touch of brightness.
These two Selfwinding Chronograph models are powered by Calibre 4401, the Manufacture’s latest in-house integrated chronograph with column wheel and flyback function that enables to restart the chronograph without stopping or resetting it first. With their selfwinding mechanism, 70 hours of power reserve and water resistance to 30 m, the two Selfwinding Chronographs are suited to an active lifestyle.
Calibre 4401 is further equipped with a vertical clutch system that prevents hands from jumping when the chronograph is started or stopped, as well as a patented zero resetting mechanism ensuring that each one of the counter hands is seamlessly reset to zero. This movement also presents a refined aesthetics revealing components usually hidden from view through the sapphire caseback. This is the case of the column wheel and the so-called “dance” of the chronograph hammers.* The collection’s dedicated 22-carat pink gold oscillating weight as well as other elegant decorations such as “Côtes de Genève,” “traits tirés” and circular graining can also be admired through the sapphire caseback.
The two Selfwinding Chronograph models are complemented with a black rubber-coated strap. Rubber coating has been added to a lining of calfskin leather. The strap is finished with a textured motif for a contemporary look. The straight integration of the strap in the continuity of the openworked lugs, which have been welded to the extra-thin bezel, further reveals the refined handfinishing techniques adorning the two-tone case’s contrasted architecture.