Audemars Piguet has thrown aside its recognisable, sharp, ’70s lines and replaced them with the curves of the ’40s. In the form of the Audemars Piguet [Re]master 01, this member of the horological ‘Holy Trinity’ has returned to its history but with added innovation. Read on to witness a brand new path for this luxury Swiss brand.
Audemars Piguet has had a few difficult years. It is a brand virtually entirely supported by the sale of the Royal Oak yet, unlike Panerai and its very particular case design, Audemars Piguet previously had much more to offer. Last year, this brand presented the woefully-received CODE 11:59 collection which provided a myriad of new dress watches from 3-hand pieces to a minute repeater and a brand new chronograph.
Unfortunately, this range was poorly received for a number of possible reasons. In hindsight, one could blame Audemars Piguet for inundating the market with an immense range of variants at launch, this distracting attention. One could, alternatively blame the press for being just as fixed with their idea of what Audemars Piguet represented as they were about it needing to offer more than the Royal Oak. Whatever the cause was, it didn’t offer the intended result and, we can all agree, it’s name is unreservedly pretentious.
However, today I announce the release of a totally new direction for this brand: the Audemars Piguet [Re]master 01. Again, the name is symptomatic of a brand so desperate to be innovative as to sound like your father trying to “get down with the kids”. Even so, the result is eye-opening and proof that Audemars Piguet recognises that it can be something other than the idea of an ultra-modern manufacturer which it has courted with recent releases.
To understand the, undoubtedly stunning, [Re]master 01, one has to look at potentially the most desirable watch ever created by Audemars Piguet: the two-tone ref. 1533. The ref. 1533 was produced in 1941 and sold in 1943 in only nine examples of which three were of a two tone configuration. Interestingly, I have only seen one of these three with the same hands and dial colour as this recreation.
[Re]mastering a Classic?
The basics form of this watch is a 40mm case in stainless steel with an 18k rose gold bezel, crown and pushers. Immediately, the design is very much of its early-20th century period with teardrop lugs and a flat, wide, unsigned crown. The pushers, constructed from small, oval pieces, also exude this rounded aesthetic. Overall, it’s a beautiful homage to the original.
Of course, some changes have been made including the enlargement of the case from 36mm to 40mm in order to fit modern standards and to accommodate the 32mm wide movement. In the original ref. 1533, the movement used was the 13VZA: a rare manually-wound chronograph with a thoroughly beautiful appearance. The modern watch uses a movement far better suited to daily life in form of a variant of the movement family launched with the CODE 11:59 Chronograph. Unsurprisingly, its 4Hz beat rate, 70-hour power reserve and column wheel system are perfectly on-par with other luxury rivals. However, industry insiders inform me that the design is an excellent one and differentiates itself from other competitors with sheer quality.
To add to the traditional feel of this watch, the rotor weight is more conventional in rose gold. With a new movement, though, comes a new dial configuration. By contrast to the original watch and giving symmetry, the chronograph sub-dials are now arranged across the horizontal axis whilst the running seconds are positioned at six.
As you can no doubt see, the dial appearance has been stunningly recreated from the original with a brushed, golden dial and stunningly simple Arabic numerals. The range from the simple, serif-capped 1940s numerals around the dial to the ‘Breguet’ numerals on the sub-dials. Two details to pay attention to are the logo and the ’45’ on the minute counter. The former includes the “& Cie.” detailing which no longer appears on Audemars Piguet products. The latter was an addition by Jacques-Louis Audemars relating to his use of a chronograph to time football matches.
What does this mean for Audemars Piguet?
As a product, the Audemars Piguet [Re]master 01 should not be mistaken for the future of this brand. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a stunning remake of a vintage watch and is in line with what has been achieved by Blancpain, Breguet and Vacheron Constantin, to name only a few. Even so, considering that Audemars Piguet will produce 500 pieces for a price of CHF 49,500, this watch is instead a demonstration of intent.
This watch shows that Audemars Piguet knows that it does have collectors interested in watches other than the Royal Oak and that it will continue to offer them a product. As a watch, however, I am certain that the Audemars Piguet [Re]master 01 will please collectors even if the CODE 11:59 is, objectively, a better and better value watch.
What do you think of the [Re]master 01?
Availability: 500 pieces for CHF 49,500 from late March
- Dimensions: 40mm x 14.6mm
- Material: Stainless Steel & 18k Rose Gold
- Crystal: Sapphire Crystal
- Display: Brushed golden dial / Gold hands for the time / Blued hands for the chronograph functions / Tachymetre / ’45’ added to the chronograph minute counter
- Water Resistance: 20m / 66ft / 2 ATM
- Movement: Audemars Piguet Cal. 4409: Time & flyback chronograph / Automatic & manual winding / 4Hz, 28,800 vph, 8 ticks-per-second / 70-hour power reserve