While this year seemed like it was going to be a slow year for novelties, it has picked up a bit recently. The following week or so, in particular, has been pretty busy for us watch enthusiasts. Audemars Piguet just gave us new Royal Oak Offshores and some fresh new colourways for their Code 11.59. Following on, Tudor started off July by bringing us a new variant of their already iconic Black Bay 58, by giving it a matte blue dial – as was heavily anticipated, and heavily leaked.
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59
The Code 11.59 didn’t receive the warmest of welcomes when it was released last year. Due to its rather uninspired looking design, simple dial layouts and boring case shape, it was not well received. While it has been a bit of a love/hate watch, AP seems to be trying to expand their appeal. As such, Audemars Piguet has decided to release several new dial colourways for the Code 11.59. These dials are fumé dials, for the most part, and as such transition from a brighter colour in the centre of the dial, to a darker colour at the dial’s periphery. This has not gone down extremely well with the community due to the resemblance to the dials that independent watchmaker H. Moser & Cie have popularised in recent years.
These new dial variants are available in blue, burgundy, purple and both, light and dark grey. They are all housed within 41mm cases that are offered in white gold, pink gold or two-tone white gold and pink gold cases. These new options certainly add an extra bit of craftsmanship to a line that was failing to inspire confidence in a brand has otherwise been a pillar of horological excellence. While the comparisons to the Moser fumé dials are to be expected, AP has indicated that the Code 11.59 is here to stay and that they are happy to continuously update it to win over the community.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore
Another release fresh out of the oven over in Le Brassus is the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 44mm. Released in three variants, these new Offshores also have the same smoked fumé dials that the latest variants of the Code 11.59 have. These three colours are green, blue and grey. While all three models use a brushed black ceramic case with polished accents, the grey dial version uses 18k pink gold for its bezel and push-piece guards, while its pushers and crown are done in black ceramic. The green and blue dial versions are topped with matching brushed ceramic bezels.
These new Offshores also debut a new Kevlar textured rubber strap that uses the same colour as the dial for each particular version. The dial still uses the same “Mega Tapisserie” pattern that the Royal Oak Offshore is known for. New to the dial, however, are the large Arabic numerals that match the military theme of the strap. This bold new edition of the Royal Oak Offshore takes the original design brief of the Offshore; to be a fun sportier version of the Royal Oak that a younger audience would wear, and runs with it.
Fumé Dials Here To Stay?
The decision to use fumé dials clearly marks a new sense of direction that AP want to take. Since fumé is very ‘in’ at the minute, it would be a missed opportunity if AP just ignored them and stuck to what they already know. While other top-tier brands might take themselves a bit too serious and avoid following the trend, AP know when to have some fun with their designs and embrace trends. While fume dials might only be around for a short period, they’re still something of a novelty and brands are only right to experiment with them. Then again, they might last the test of time, and the early adopters will only benefit down the line.
The Black Bay 58 becomes the Blue Bay?
First launched in 2018, the Tudor Black Bay 58 stands as a nod to one of Tudor’s first divers watch – the Tudor Submariner ‘Big Crown’, which itself was released in 1958. Since then, with its vintage aesthetic, slim profile and storied history, it has become a modern icon with sales rivalling some watches from big brother brand Rolex. With this success came the cries from the watch community for Tudor to release more variants, and that’s what Tudor has done.
Following Tudor’s historical fondness for the colour blue, they have decided to release a navy-blue dialled version of the BB58 that comes with a matching matte blue anodized aluminium bezel. The new BB58 comes with the snowflake hour hand that has been a signature characteristic of Tudor’s sports watches for north of five decades. They have also decided to offer the new “Bluebay” on an array of straps. The first choice is the steel bracelet with the ‘love them or hate them’ riveted links – a direct symbol of the BB58’s vintage inspiration. The next two choices are both navy blue textile options.
Different in both look and construction the Julien Faure strap is made of fabric and has a silver stripe down its centre. The other strap offered is a navy blue ‘soft touch’ synthetic fabric strap that seems to have the appearance of suede.
Whichever strap you choose this is a beautiful watch that, at 39mm, should be comfortable on most wrist sizes. Coming in at $3375 on either fabric strap or $3700 on the steel bracelet this is a watch that certainly should be comfortable on the wallet too, especially given its quality an already iconic design.