Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet’s recent timepiece, the [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph, is a limited edition of 500 pieces that reinterprets one of AP’s rare chronograph wristwatches from the World War II-era for the present day.
“People are very cognizant of the design shakeup that took place in the 1970s and in the early 2000s. However, creative expressions of case form and dial design have occurred during every decade of our history. For [Re]master01, we chose to explore the strength and elegance of one of our chronograph wristwatches from 1943 through the prism of 2020. This is not a historic reissue – it is a contemporary remastering of one of our past creations,” says Michael Friedman, Audemars Piguet’s Head of Complications.
With only 307 units made between the 1930s through the 1950s, AP’s vintage chronograph wristwatches from the World War II-era are among the rarest in the world. Moreover, every AP watch, we are informed, was unique until 1951.
The pre-model 1533 wristwatch from 1943 which the [Re]master01 seeks to emulate, has a 36 mm diameter; quite large for the era when most chronograph wristwatches used to measure between 31 and 34 mm. This larger than usual diameter size was chosen to offer better legibility on a watch created for sports enthusiasts. AP started catering to this segment of clients in the 1930s, when the measure of performance had become an integral part of society.
During World War II (1939–1945), when pre-model 1533 was crafted, chronograph wristwatches accounted for just under one-tenth of the company’s total watch production. Only three stainless steel and gold chronograph wristwatches with the present case design were sold in 1943.
“There were many inspiring watches within our Heritage collection that could have been the basis for this remastering project. The entire team unanimously decided on the 1533 chronograph wristwatch because of the specific aesthetic and emotional connections we all felt for this echo of the past.” – Michael Friedman, Head of Complications, Audemars Piguet
The [Re]master01 stays faithful to the original design language of 1533 of 1943. It has a round 40 mm case and lugs in polished stainless steel. The flat-ring bezel, olive-shaped pushers and the chamfered crown are in 18-carat pink gold. The teardrops lugs complement the two-tone case’s curvature, while the very thin bezel provides an unobstructed view on the dial’s detailed work. The case has been meticulously polished by hand.
The case’s two-tone polished aesthetic is complemented by a satin-brushed, gold-toned dial. The latter, enriched with black transferred hour-markers; pink-gold hour, minute and seconds hands; blue chronograph hands and a blue transferred tachymetric scale. Although the dial design has retained the original timepiece’s classic features and Art Deco-inspired numerals, the watch’s enlarged 40 mm diameter enables even better legibility than the original.
Under the 12 o’clock indicator, one may notice that the brand’s distinct logo is missing. Instead, it has “Audemars Piguet & Co Genève” printed in a manner similar to the 1943 wristwatch. This is because, 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. When Audemars Piguet started to sign its watches in the early 20th century, the city of Geneva was frequently mentioned on the dial.
The chronograph counters have also been rearranged for improved readability. However, the [Re]master01 has subtly retained the original watch’s 4/5 indication above the 15 minutes mark, inside the 30-minutes counter and at 9 o’clock to allow the wearer to record up to 45 minutes. This indication was requested by A’s third-generation family-founder Jacques-Louis Audemars (1910 – 2003). As a lover of football, he wanted the watch to keep track of the game’s two halves.
Unlike the original, the [Re]master01’s case-back features a glare-proofed sapphire crystal. Another disparity between the two is visible through the crystal – the Selfwinding Manufacture calibre 4409. It is AP’s newest generation self-winding chronograph mechanism featuring an integrated chronograph with column wheel and flyback function. The crystal also reveals the dedicated oscillating weight in satin-brushed 22-carat pink gold; matching that of the bezel. The weight is decorated with “Clous de Paris” — a traditional decoration technique used since the 1950s at Audemars Piguet.
The light brown hand-stitched calfskin strap adds an elegant touch to the timepiece. The watch also comes with an additional dark brown alligator strap.