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Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet: scrutinized on social media
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Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet: scrutinized on social media

Monday, 18 February 2019
By The FHH Journal editors
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The FHH Journal editors

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2 min read

The new Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet has sparked a lot of conversation online. Was it positive or negative? We analyse.

Code 11.59 –“Challenge/Own/Dare/Evolve”– generated a lot of discussion during SIHH 2019, with some very opinionated comments from French-speaking observers, especially about the design, that would have skewed any technical considerations. A few weeks after SIHH, what are watch enthusiasts saying about the collection?

A conversation led by the Swiss

People’s interest in a subject usually manifests itself in a Google search, so it is no surprise that analysis of search trends over the 30 days since January 5, 2019 shows a spike in searches during SIHH. However, these are mainly confined to Switzerland, testifying that the debate was raging among insiders rather than a wider audience.

This can give the impression of a “bad buzz” by magnifying reactions among experts when the rest of the world is only just discovering the collection.

Differentiated communities online

An analysis of conversations on social media appears to confirm this conclusion.

Overview of mentions (Jan 1, 2019 – Feb 5, 2019), across all social platforms.
Overview of mentions (Jan 1, 2019 – Feb 5, 2019), across all social platforms.

A majority of the 4,000 mentions of #CODE1159 came from Twitter and Instagram. Demographics show a rather mature and masculine public:

An analysis beyond the dedicated hashtag shows there were almost 10,000 mentions of Audemars Piguet and Code 11.59, with a strong volume coming from Sina Weibo.

Limitations

François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, put these criticisms into perspective by reminding everyone that the Royal Oak Offshore 25th Anniversary had also been widely disparaged during its prelaunch in 2018, and still quickly sold out.

So, a prelaunch that sparks a lot of negative reaction does not foretell commercial failure. It does, on the other hand, confirm a few key learnings about pre-launches on social media:

  • It is very difficult to show off a watch’s detail or explain the know-how behind it with a few photos or videos. While these can serve as teasers, they tend to generate polarised reactions that focus on design. Opinions tone down after a few days, especially on forums, as new elements of the collection are revealed.
  • Different communities react to different things. On Reddit, for instance, describing a timepiece as a “fashion watch” is seen as an insult, whereas a bold horological move or one that responds to a pop culture trend will be acclaimed on Instagram and Weibo.
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