For those who are into watchmaking, Audemars Piguet might represents some of the finest watches, but also modern and bold designs. Whether it is the iconic Royal Oak, the robust Offshore or the recent Code 11.59, Audemars Piguet rarely looks at the past when it comes to its watches, or at least when to comes to the design of its watches. But this is about to change, as Audemars Piguet launches a new watch today, which looks at one of the most iconic wrist chronographs of its past, the ref. 1533. Its name is the [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph. And it really brings its dosage of desirability.
First of all, this isn’t a proper vintage re-edition. As indicated by its name, [Re]master01 “is a contemporary remastering of one of our past creations” says Michael Friedman, Audemars Piguet’s Head of Complications. This is a blend of heritage and modernity. As such, it might be visually inspired by the past model but comes in modern dimensions and features an innovative movement inside. But before we look at this Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 in details, let’s dive into the past first.
The inspiration, the Audemars Piguet Ref. 1533
Audemars Piguet is today mostly known for its signature luxury sports watches. In fact, it is the watch that started the trend, the 1972 Royal Oak, is a watch so important that some tend to forget that AP manufactured some of the finest chronographs and perpetual calendars. However, these wrist chronographs by Audemars Piguet are rare, very rare. It is said that, according to the scholarship, only 307 examples were made between the 1930s through the 1950s – an era we know as the golden age of fine chronographs, with hand-wound movements, original designs and splendid dials. Back then, the chronograph wasn’t yet the sports watch we know today (this will come in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with the Speedmaster and the Daytona). Back in these days, Audemars Piguet was manufacturing refined, precious dress chronographs. One of the best examples being the ref. 1533. And all were unique pieces.
Image by Audemars Piguet
The Audemars Piguet 1533 is the perfect example of the high-end 1940s chronograph. It packs all the desirable elements you could dream of. First of all, it has a 36mm case, and surprisingly, this case could be ordered in a combination of stainless steel and pink gold, like the present example. Second, it featured desirable teardrop lugs, reminiscent of the Art-Deco era, which can also be seen on the dial with the stylized 12. Also relatively rare for the era, this a 3-counter chronograph. The dial of the vintage model that served as an inspiration was made in a unique rose-champagne colour, with blued chronograph hands.
The watch as presented in the book Audemars Piguet 20th Century Complicated Wristwatches published in May 2018 (image by Audemars Piguet)
Talking scarcity, according to Phillips Watches, “only three stainless steel and gold chronograph wristwatches with the present case design were manufactured in 1941 and later sold in 1943, and the example offered here is the only one with such a (…) dial.” The dial also features a tachymeter scale as well as a little but nice detail, the number “45” printed in red above the 15-minute mark inside the 30-minute register – to allow the wearer to record up to 45 minutes.
Image by phillips.com
This Audemars Piguet 1533 was powered by a hand-wound movement, the well-known calibre 13VZAH with 22 jewels – manufactured by Valjoux – a classic column-wheel and horizontal clutch movement. The present piece appeared at least twice on auction. First in 2013 with Sotheby’s and sold for CHF 115,000. Second in 2015 with Phillips and sold for CHF 305,000. This very watch, now in the hands of the Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, has been re-interpreted in a modern package with a well-known in-house chronograph movement.
The new Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph
When looking at this new chronograph, there’s no doubt regarding the filiation between the vintage 1533 and the new [Re]master01. This is obvious. Most the details have been brought back, whether it is the two-tone case, the shapes, the lugs or the dial and all its elements. However, the watch might feel vintage and part of an heritage collection, there’s also some modernity in it… It feels more modern, size-wise and material-wise.
The case of the [Re]master01 is still made of a combination of stainless steel and 18 pink gold – the latter being used for the bezel, the crown and the rounded pushers. The case measures now 40mm, to adapt with modern mechanics and modern tastes. The signature design element of the 1533, the “teardrop” lugs, which bring the Art Deco feel to this watch, are also part of this new piece. The case is entirely polished.
The dial of the Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 is also an ode to the past model, with all its element nicely reproduced. There’s, here too, a definitive 1940s and Art Deco feel, with the blue tachymeter scale, the stylized 12 marker, the elongated batons, the simple and thin gold hands. Fonts and sub-dials have also been reproduced, including the “45” indication in the minute recorder. The 3 hands for the chronograph are blued steel, like the original. The display is as it should: no date. Some evolutions are to be seen. First is the colour, as the dial is here yellow gold coloured instead of rose on the original 1533. Second, the display has evolved due to the modern movement and the sud-dials are placed differently – small seconds at 6 o’clock, 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock and 12-hour counter at 3 o’clock.
One small detail to note, the new [Re]master01 features the signature “Audemars Piguet & Co Genève” on the dial, even though it is manufactured in Le Brassus, like all AP watches. From around 1885 to the mid-1970s, Audemars Piguet had a workshop in Geneva to be closer to end clients and facilitate distribution within Europe and beyond. As a tribute to the original piece and to remain faithful, the brand chose to keep this logo.
On the contrary of the vintage 1533 watch and its hand-wound Valjoux-based movement, the reedition is equipped with a much more modern engine, the brand’s new in-house, integrated automatic flyback chronograph movement – which we explained in details in this technical article. This movement, inaugurated in Code 11.59, is state-of-the-art modern chrono, with all the recent technical solutions. This large calibre, 32mm in diameter, here dubbed Calibre 4409, features a column-wheel and vertical clutch, the later enabling precise starts and stops. A specificity of this movement are the three twin hammers and hammer springs. The hammers are responsible for resetting the hands. The three hammer springs are almost identical and positioned one next to the other. Not only is the function smooth and complete but it is really cool to see these in action one next to the other, which is superbly highlighted by the architecture of the movement.
Also important to note about the Calibre 4409, it is also a flyback chronograph, which means it can be returned to zero and restarted instantly with a single push of the button. The power reserve is very comfortable, at 70 hours, and the movement runs at a modern frequency – 28,800 vibrations/hours or 4Hz. The decoration includes straight and circular satin brushing, Geneva stripes and perlage – on both sides of the bridges, even in the hidden areas. The bridges feature large chamfers, perfectly diamond polished. Engravings are gold-toned. The 22K gold rotor is decorated with a guilloche pattern.
The Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph is worn on a light brown, hand-stitched calf leather strap with steel pin buckle. A brown alligator strap is also included.
Price and availability
The Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph (ref. 26595SR-OO-A032VE-01) will be limited to 500 pieces and priced at CHF 49,500 (before taxes).
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.