Since 1875, Audemars Piguet has been known for creating timepieces with unmatched quality, and crafted them by hand until the mid-20th century. As we celebrate the watchmaker’s legacy, we meet the [Re]master01 — a stunning, automatic chronograph that draws from an iconic model of the brand’s past. Offering a seamless, perfect blend of vintage styling and cutting-edge technological advancements, the timepiece incorporates classic aesthetics with a modern touch. There are several nods to influences of the Ref 1533 — Aduemars Piguet’s head of complications, Michael Friedman himself, once stated that the watch “is a contemporary remastering of one of our past creations.” A remastering, but far from a re-issue.
Adorned with a medley of archival references from the ‘40s, Audemars Piguet’s novelty, the [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph is a contemporary homage to the aesthetics of the decade — aesthetics which are best remembered for the ill-fated horrors brought upon by World War II. Preceded by the Art Deco movement and the gradual discontinuation of the mono-pusher chronograph, the watches of the ‘40s were often born out of necessity as military supplies. Naturally, the chronograph with its utilitarian ability to measure time and speed became increasingly popular.
However, not all were created for the war. There were those that were created for the sake of a spiritual escape. Audemars Piguet’s Ref 1533 of which the [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph is based on was one of such rare examples. Among the most sought-after, the manufacture’s vintage chronographs are scarcely found, with only 307 units produced between the ‘30s and ‘50s. At the time, Audemars Piguet was not a series watch producer that it is presently, counting 40,000 pieces as its annual production. Prior to 1951, every watch sold was a unique piece, which explains the reason information of these watches is hard to come by and more often than not, accompanied by beguiling tales of past owners.
During World War II, when the Ref 1533 was made, chronograph wristwatches accounted for a little under one-tenth of the manufacture’s total output volume. The Ref 1533, in particular, was one of three chronograph wristwatches boasting such stainless steel and gold case design. The 36mm dual-tone case was considered larger than average especially when its peers were measuring between 31mm and 34mm.
The new flyback chronograph features a round case and teardrop-like lugs in stainless steel, enhanced by a bezel, olive-shaped pushers and chamfered crown in 18k pink gold, not unlike that of the Ref 1533. The hand-polished case is further complemented by a satin-brushed gold-toned dial enriched with black transferred hour-markers, pink gold hour, minute and seconds hands, blue chronograph hands and a blue transferred tachymetre scale. On the contrary, the Ref 1533 houses a champagne dial – a colour no doubt will prove popular if Audemars Piguet chooses to pursue this option somewhere down the road.
Furthermore, the new watch has inherited the Ref 1533’s 4/5 indication, which sits above the 15-minute marker inside the 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock, allowing the wearer to record up to 45 minutes. This idiosyncrasy can be attributed to Audemars Piguet’s third-generation family-founder Jacques-Louis Audemars (1910-2003), whose favourite sport was football and the 45th minute points towards half-time.
While the dial design such as the Art Deco-inspired fonts and the signature Audemars Piguet & Co Genève has been retained, the layout of the sub-dials has been altered and the case enlarged to 40mm to improve legibility, as well as to house an automatic in-house integrated chronograph movement with column wheel, flyback function and 70 hours of power reserve.
The calibre 4409 is revealed through a transparent caseback – unlike the Ref 1533 which has a closed caseback. The movement is fitted with a 22k pink gold rotor with a Clous de Paris motif. Paired with a light-brown hand-stitched calfskin strap to accentuate the soft, elegant colours of the watch, the [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph is also shipped with an additional dark brown alligator strap for a stately presence and limited to 500 pieces.
To find out more visit, audemarspiguet.com.
This story first appeared on Prestige Online Hong Kong.