Hands on review of the Audemars Piguet [Re]Master01
The [Re]Master01 chronograph was presented by Audemars Piguet in last year's first quarter. The purpose of the presentation was to celebrate the inauguration of the brand's brand new Musée Atelier (Museum - Workshop) in Le Brassus. The inauguration took place in light of the health crisis a few months later, but there is no doubt that the watch and the museum share the same ambition. It is not a question of looking back nostalgically to the past but of taking advantage of its roots to project itself into the future.
The [Re]Master01 chronograph is a piece that is described as neo-retro because it is strongly inspired by a chronograph from the 1940s. However, it is not a clone, and above all, it features one of the very latest movements developed in-house by the Manufacture: caliber 4409 derived from caliber 4401, which was first used with the chronograph watches in the Code11.59 collection. The [Re]Master01 chronograph is therefore a resolutely contemporary watch despite its aesthetic atmosphere. It is this combination of classic design and contemporary mechanics that makes this watch so special and gives it a lot of character.
The timepiece that served as inspiration dates more precisely from 1943. It is a chronograph with "baton" main hands and is characterized by its two-tone case, oval push-pieces, blued hands dedicated to the chronograph function and a red "45" inscription in the minute counter. The [Re]Master01 chronograph features all of these characteristics as well as the font, highlighted by the impressive 12 at the top of the dial, the tachymeter scale and the "Audemars.Piguet & C° Genève" brand signature. On this last point, I'm a little surprised that Audemars Piguet kept the Geneva reference, and it would have seemed more logical, since the watch is not an exact clone, to indicate "Le Brassus", which would have been an additional nod to the Musée Atelier.
When we look at the [Re]Master01 chronograph from the front, there are two main characteristics that distinguish it from the 1943 chronograph: the size of the case which is obviously better adapted to today's market with a diameter of 40mm (compared to 36mm for the original watch which was rather large at the time) and the organization of the dial. Beyond these considerations of size more in line with market aspirations, it is of course the use of the 4409 caliber that imposes such evolutions. This caliber has a diameter of 32mm which makes it compatible with 40mm cases. In addition, it has been designed to display the permanent second at 6 o'clock. I also have a preference for the organization of the dial of the 2020 watch compared to the original watch. The chronograph counters are aligned horizontally (minutes on the left, hours on the right) which I find more practical and elegant. The blued hands occupy the horizontal diameter which reinforces the symmetry and balance of the watch. The dial is perfectly executed and its yellow gold color blends perfectly (and surprisingly) with the pink gold bezel. The whole is warm without falling into a charm that would appear outdated or old-fashioned. The counters create very nice light reflections different from those of the dial.
I think that the red 45 from the minute counter of the original watch is a great idea. In addition to the nod to soccer (which is not insignificant for a brand like Audemars Piguet), the touch of red subtly brightens up the dial. The tachymeter scale is located on the peripheral flange and since the counters are slightly recessed, the dial has several levels. It is far from flat and easily compensates for the lack of applied indexes. Finally, the sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating ensures optimal readability. I was worried about the pink gold main hands but the contrast with the yellow gold dial is sufficient.
The case is also very attractive. It is the element that has the most personality. The two-tone approach is here relevant and elegant. The case and lugs are in steel, the bezel, pushers and crown are in pink gold. I really like to observe the side of the watch because I find the oval pushers particularly successful. The other advantage of the two tone approach is the contrast between the bezel and the case. The watch appears to be thinner than it is (14.6mm all the same). Finally, the drop-shaped lugs are both a strong evocation of the original watch and an element of originality in today's watch production.
The contemporary dimension of the [Re]Master01 chronograph becomes clear when the case is turned over, with a view of the self-winding 4409 caliber. It is of recent design, and this can be seen in several details: in the architecture of the movement, in the traversing balance bridge, in the balance adjustment system, even in the shape of the column wheel. The performance is in line with today's standards with a power reserve of 70 hours for a frequency of 4hz without forgetting the flyback function. The visual rendering of the caliber is very modern and even if the winding mass is much more traditional than that of the 11.59 chronograph, there is a contrast between the rendering of the dial and the movement in the sense that one has the impression that these are two distinct periods in the history of watchmaking. The finishing is flawless, extremely careful even if the cut of the bridges does not propose any inward angles. What is in any case very pleasant is to note that the movement generously occupies the case. On the other hand, I regret a little that Audemars Piguet did not choose a more openworked winding mass. The latter is omnipresent and I would have liked a more refined aesthetic work at this level in order to obtain a wider view of the movement. It would have been possible to openwork the weight while proposing a different finish than the movement of the Code11.59 chronographs. However, the chosen winding mass, with a nice clou de Paris peripheral decoration is more in the spirit of the watch.
The [Re]Master01 chronograph is very pleasant to use. Its size is balanced, its calf leather strap is smooth and comfortable and the movement is very efficient in everyday use: the triggering of the chronograph is precise and the winding efficiency is good. The crown is relatively wide which makes it easy to handle and the oval pushers are also ergonomic. On the other hand, the point of attention is the water resistance, which is only 20 meters. But as the vocation of the watch is certainly not swimming, this is not a big concern.
In any case, I really liked this watch. Beyond its accomplished realization, it allows one to appreciate the 4409 caliber in a different context than the Code11.59 collection. Moreover, given its particular name, the [Re]Master01 chronograph surely prefigures other watches inspired by the past and by heritage pieces. That would make sense for Audemars Piguet, as a reminder that its history began long before the arrival of the Royal Oak. In any case, the [Re]Master01 chronograph is presented separately in the brand's catalog, which could confirm the hypothesis of the emergence of a [Re]Master line. One of the brand's strategic axes is to reduce the weight of the Royal Oak collections in the overall figure. Such a collection would contribute to this not only from a commercial point of view but also from an image point of view.
The [Re]Master01 chronograph is sold in a limited series of 500 pieces at a price of 60,100 euros including VAT in France.
+ the presentation of the dial
+ the legibility of the chronograph data thanks to the blued hands
+ the charming two-tone case without being old-fashioned
+ the performance of the movement
- the 20 meter water resistance
- I would have liked an openworked winding mass to better enjoy the movement.