The Art of Craft: How a New Art Deco-Inspired Watch from Audemars Piguet Pays Homage to Creativity in Times of Transition

The [Re]Master01 is a modern rendition of one of the Swiss luxury watchmaker's World War II-era timepieces.

Audemars Piguet's [Re]master01. Photo courtesy Audemars Piguet.

The Art of Craft is an ongoing series in which Artnet News shares the story behind the making of a special design object.

Just in time for the unveiling of its new Bjarke Ingels-designed museum, which opened late last month, the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet has released a timepiece inspired by the design of the Art Deco period. 

The [Re]master01, which takes its name from a vintage chronograph wristwatch from 1943 (and brings to mind suggestions of a remastered recording), unites mid-century design, a state-of-the-art movement, and a callback to an unlikely period of productivity in watch design history. 

Audemars Piguet's [Re]master01. Photo courtesy Audemars Piguet.

Audemars Piguet’s [Re]master01. Photo courtesy Audemars Piguet.

The original model the new edition riffs on—the 1533—is among the rarest in the world, with only a handful of pieces crafted at the time of its original production.

In 1943, the 1533 was viewed as highly contemporary and too daring for most, with its sporty, avant-garde dial design, which was much larger in size than other contemporaneous models.

But today, the 1533 is among Audemars Piguet’s most valuable vintage pieces, and is part of a coveted group of around 307 chronograph watches produced by the company between the 1930s and ‘50s.

The new remastered edition is, to date, the first time that the Swiss watchmaker has reworked a timepiece from the World War II era—a time of crisis during which, per a company statement, designers had to showcase their creativity during a particularly “tumultuous and transitional” period. 

The back of the [Re]master01. Photo courtesy Audemars Piguet.

The back of the [Re]master01. Photo courtesy Audemars Piguet.

The [Re]master01 features several of the original model’s design elements, including a two-tone, steel-and-pink-gold case, teardrop lugs, a gold dial enriched with black transferred hour-markers, and blue chronograph hands.

The Art Deco-style numerals remain true to the 1533’s original font and form, though they’ve been enlarged slightly to match the new model’s wider diameter, adjusted to ensure clearer legibility. 

Additionally, the new version also features a striking glareproofed sapphire crystal caseback to lay bare the chronograph mechanism and the 22-carat pink-gold oscillating weight, which matches the bezel on the other side.

The weight is decorated with Clous de Paris, a special kind of dial guilloche, or embossing, intended to lend the surface a soft cubic effect that Audemars Piguet has used since the 1950s. 

A closer look at the [Re]master01. Photo courtesy Audemars Piguet.

A closer look at the [Re]master01. Photo courtesy Audemars Piguet.

In these uncertain times, Audemars Piguet’s Head of Complications, Michael Friedman, hopes that watch collectors and fans of the house will take the time to learn about the more under-appreciated periods of watch design history, from which the [Re]master01 takes its inspiration.

“People are very cognizant of the design shakeups that took place in the 1970s and in the early 2000s,” Friedman said in a statement.

“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 of one of our chronograph watches from 1943 through the prism of 2020.

“The entire team unanimously decided on this wristwatch because of the specific and emotional connections we all felt for this echo of the past.” 

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