Audemars Piguet is ending the watch year 2022 on a high note: The Swiss tradition manufacture from Le Brassus breathes new life into the “wandering hours,” a rare and ancient complication that dates back to the 17th century. Its clever mechanism displays the hours using a system of satellites that gravitate along a minute scale arranged in the form of an arc.
The new Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Starwheel is not the first timepiece by the Swiss luxury manufacture, though. In fact, the brand’s Ref. 25720, released in 1991 at the height of the mechanical renaissance and today sought-after by collectors, featured a wandering hours display. The new Starwheel edition is a continuation of the models from the 1990s and housed in the signature Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet case. Crafted from white gold and black ceramic, it has a diameter of 41mm and a thickness of 10.7mm.
Blue aventurine serves as a shimmering backdrop for the three discs that rotate on their own axes. Slightly domed, they are made of aluminum and tinted black thanks to a PVD treatment, before being adorned with an opaline sandblasted finishing touch. The white wandering hours numerals are then transferred onto the dial. Following the contemporary design, the 120-degree minute sector, which extends in an arc from 10 to 2 o’clock, and the inner bezel, are both black with white minute indications.
On the dial side, the double-curved sapphire crystal magnifies both the numerous details present in the blue aventurine and the finishing of the various elements, while also bringing increased depth to the dial. On the back of the watch, the sapphire crystal reveals the self-winding manufacture caliber 4310, as well as the 22-carat pink gold, partially skeletonized oscillating weight dedicated to the collection. The movement amasses a power reserve of 72 hours.
The entertaining time display is achieved thanks to a central rotor operating a complete revolution in three hours and on which are fixed three aluminum discs that turn on their own axes. Each disc has four digits from 1 to 12 that take turns in pointing to the arched sector at the top of the dial on which the minute scale is printed. The 18-carat white gold trotteuse hand is slightly curved at the tip to follow the discs, indicating the seconds in a traditional fashion.
The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Starwheel is fitted with a textured black rubber-coated strap and a new pin buckle engraved with the Audemars Piguet logo, instead of the usual AP monogram.
Audemars Piguet has just revived its iconic “Star Wheel” system by way of the modern Code 11.59 platform. The wandering hours complication dates back to the 17th century where it sees three small discs on a larger central wheel that rotate on their own axis to join a 120-degree minute arc section at the 10 to 2 o’clock position. The time is read where the hourly-marked discs meet the minute indications.
As history reveals, the first wandering hours system was created for Pope Alexander VII who suffered from insomnia and was often disturbed by the ticking of his clock. He sent in an order for a “night clock” from the Rome-based clockmakers the Campani brothers where they then came up with the wandering hours complication — silent and easy to read in the dark. It wasn’t until 1989, when Audemars Piguet rediscovered the wandering hours system in an article in the Journal suisse d’horlogerie, that this compilation received a fresh new look. 18 months of development later, the Audemars Piguet Ref. 25720 was released in 1991. The distinct wristwatch was characterized by its engine-turned outer ring, contrasting logo and minute track, and three star-marked sapphire hour discs. A mix of classic and contemporary, this watch would later be called the “Star Wheel.” This new iteration with the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Starwheel (Ref. 15212NB.OO.A002KB.01) takes that iconic time system and modernizes it with the Code 11.59’s 41mm case. The entire display is elevated with luxurious materials like 18-carat white gold, black ceramic, and 22-carat pink gold. Gone are the sapphire discs and in their place are ones made from black opaline aluminum. These discs are highly legible as the numbers float above a new blue aventurine dial.