The Swiss haute horlogerie brand rediscovered and reintroduced the “Wandering Hours” complication of 1991 into the Code 11.59 Starwheel.
December 13, 2022: Invented in the 17th century, wandering hours are a type of horological complication that display the hours using a system of satellites that gravitate along a minute scale arranged in the form of an arc. This aesthetic presentation of the hours and minutes brings a certain mystique to reading time. However, after falling from favour in the 20th century, this system was adopted by Audemars Piguet in 1991, then introducing a classic looking timepiece, called Starwheel, that is as elegant today.
Today, with the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Starwheel, the Manufacture is reviving this little-known complication as well as paying a highly contemporary tribute to traditional watchmaking. “Invented in 1655 thanks to a request by Pope Alexander VII, who suffered from insomnia that was exacerbated by the ticking of his clock, the wandering hours complication was rediscovered by Audemars Piguet in 1991 and combines history, technical challenges, design and poetry,” said Sébastian Vivas, Heritage and Museum Director at Audemars Piguet.
The new Starwheel launched this year is a continuation of the models from the 1990s and is housed in the ultra-contemporary Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet case, whose architectural lines are enhanced by the wandering time display. The architecture of the case is reinforced by overlapping geometric shapes, including a round bezel, case back and Starwheel discs, and a rounded octagonal case middle. Blue aventurine serves as a shimmering backdrop for the three discs that rotate on their axes, like
planets in the tiny universe of the dial.
The three slightly domed discs are made of aluminium and are tinted black thanks to a PVD treatment before adorning 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 black with white minute indications.
Measuring 41 mm, the aventurine is combined with 18-carat white gold and black ceramic. This diversity of materials creates an infinite play of light. The 18-carat white gold bezel, lugs and case back contrast with the black case middle and the new black ceramic crown. On the dial side, the double-curved sapphire crystal magnifies the numerous details 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 beating heart of the movement, as well as the 22-carat pink gold oscillating weight dedicated to the collection. This new reference 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.
For the very first time, the emblematic Starwheel display is integrated into the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection with the self-winding Calibre 4310. This next-generation hour, minute and seconds movement is directly derived from the Calibre 4309, to which a new module has been added. Combining watchmaking technology, traditional know-how and refined decorations, this movement has a minimum power reserve of 70 hours and is water-resistant to 30 metres.
The time display is achieved thanks to a central rotor operating a complete revolution in three hours and on which are fixed three aluminium discs that turn on their axes. Each disc has four digits from 1 to 12 take turns pointing to the arched sector at the top of the dial on which the minute scale is printed. The 18-carat white gold trotteuse is slightly curved at the tip to follow the relief of the discs, indicating the seconds like in a traditional timepiece.