Shape of You: The Rebirth of Audemars Piguet's [RE]Master02

Audemars Piguet’s [RE]Master02, the latest rebirth of one of AP’s classic watches, pays homage to brutalism and the brand’s glorious history with asymmetry. If you love people inquiring after your wristwear, gather round...

Shape of You: The Rebirth of Audemars Piguet's [RE]Master02

Whisper it around TikTok’s facial attractiveness algorithms (they can probably hear us these days), but asymmetry can be confoundingly beautiful. This is especially the case in horology, a realm in which Rolex’s King Midas, a plethora of Cartier models (notably the Crash) and plenty of mostly ultra-rare Patek pieces have paid zero heed to the diktats of invisible axes — not just in terms of how components within the dial are positioned but when it comes to the dial’s shape. In fact, it’s hard to think of examples that aren’t eye-catching in all the right ways. 

Given Audemars Piguet’s swashbuckling attitude to geometry over the years — this is a brand whose most famous creation, the Royal Oak, offers a witty take on the interplay between circles, squares and rectangles, and which has also delved into trapezoidal or octagonal shapes over the decades — we shouldn’t be surprised that, between 1959 and 1963, and inspired by the brutalist movement then riding the crest of the zeitgeist in the post-war reconstruction of Europe, the brand created more than 30 asymmetrical novelties. Sharp-angled silhouettes were de rigueur in these models, which, rather like the architecture that was part of the same movement, were striking to look at without any reliance on ornamentation. Fewer than 10 of each of these models were made. 

Now, with the [RE]Master02, the manufacture has reissued one of those pieces, one that was created in 1960 and of which only seven were produced originally. (Previous visitors to Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet in Vallée de Joux will have laid eyes on one of them.) Almost 65 years after it was originally conceived, the piece’s modern doppelgänger looks just as compelling and as elegantly zany as its forbear did the day it first leapt from human imagination to the drawing board. 

Top: O’Shea wears a double-breasted check blazer, linen shirt and pleated trousers, Brunello Cucinelli; sunglasses, Cutler & Gross; watch, Audemars Piguet [RE]Master02 Selfwinding, 41mm. Ellen wears a brown silk shirt, Edward Sexton; wide-leg trousers, Ralph Lauren Purple Label; leather belt, Brunello Cucinelli; earrings, Goossens; necklace, Jessica McCormack. 
Bottom: Ellen wears a sculpted suit in pine, Galvan; black silk shirt, Edward Sexton; Nudo ring, Pomellato; diamond spiral earrings, Jessica McCormack; green satin pumps, Stella McCartney; Audemars Piguet [RE]Master02 Selfwinding, 41mm. 

The piece’s modern doppelgänger looks just as compelling as its forebear did almost 65 years ago.

Before taking a closer look at [RE]Master02, the curious, partly parenthesised moniker deserves some explanation. Launched in 2020, the first piece in the [RE]Master series was a reinterpretation of a rare chronograph from 1943. Audemars Piguet historians instantly recognised the vintage piece’s design tenets in the new iteration, with its two-tone case, pink-gold dial, stainless steel case band and lugs, and pink-gold bezel. Inside, however, the piece was furnished with a new self-winding chronograph movement with a column wheel and flyback function. (The reader may insert his or her own comparison to continuation cars here.) 

As a nod to Audemars Piguet’s ongoing affection for all things musical, though (this is a manufacture that created a bejewelled version of the Royal Oak Offshore whose tapisserie dial and crown guards were inspired by mixing consoles), the fledgling series has been named after the process of enhancing and refining recordings from a bygone age. 

Blending, like the [RE]Master01, a vintage aesthetic with modern performance, the [RE]Master02 — just 250 examples of which, like its predecessor, have been made — features a 41mm case in 18-carat sand-gold alloy whose tone oscillates between white- and pink-gold depending on the angle of light. Twelve individually machined brass triangles — decorated with a linear satin — are separated by galvanised sand-gold-toned partitions, which congregate in the centre. The hour and minute hands, as well as the ‘Audemars Piguet’ signature at three o’clock, are crafted in 18-carat sand-gold, which is created using galvanic growth (a process that might be likened to 3D printing with precious metals). 

The absence of hour markers means no unnecessary visual clutter — or noise, as we might put it in deference to the manufacture’s ‘[RE]Master’ appellation — to detract from the case’s extraordinary dimensions, whose wilful lack of symmetry is given greater emphasis by a sapphire crystal whose 15.8° bevel makes its irregularity shout all the louder. As well, the shade of blue of the alligator-leather strap contrasts elegantly with that of the dial tone, while its matt finish adds more elegant mischief to the theatrics when light hits the piece from different angles. 

Tan cotton contemporary suit, tab collar shirt, knitted silk tie and pocket-square, Edward Sexton; sunglasses, Cutler & Gross; Audemars Piguet [RE]Master02 Selfwinding, 41mm.
Suede military bomber and linen shirt, Berluti; watch, Audemars Piguet [RE]Master02 Selfwinding, 41mm.

Lovers of both technical modernity and dynamic aesthetics can, it turns out, have their cake and eat it. 

So what high-tech modernism — to return to our own continuation-car analogy — do we find under the bonnet? Calibre 7129 is an ultra-thin
(2.8mm), self-winding hour and minute movement (sans date indication — more decluttering) based on the calibre 7121, which was first used in the Royal Oak Jumbo slimline models brought out in 2022. A boost in kinetic energy comes courtesy of the larger barrel, which means greater precision over a longer period. Mounted on ball bearings, the oscillating weight has two reversers to ensure bidirectional winding, while inertia blocks prevent aerodynamic friction from slowing down the balance wheel. 

All this micro-engineering ingenuity is visible through the sapphire caseback, so Audemars Piguet were always going to keep their decoration mavens as busy as their tech personnel when creating the piece: Côtes de Genève, circular satin, snailing, sunray brushing, circular graining and polished angles conspire here to make up a charming — and, paradoxically, anything but brutal —horological tableau whose focal point is undoubtedly the dedicated 22-carat gold oscillating weight in the same sand-gold tone as the case.

Sébastian Vivas, Audemars Piguet’s Heritage and Museum Director, refers to the piece as “a fantastic opportunity to revive this forgotten golden age”, while Ilaria Resta, who recently replaced François-Henry Bennahmias as Chief Executive Officer, adds: “Audemars Piguet has always been attached to its past while looking to the future. The [RE]Master collection perfectly embodies this spirit and pays tribute to our long watchmaking tradition, marked by timepieces that are emblematic of their era, reinterpreted today using the most advanced technologies and a resolutely contemporary approach.” 

We say: lovers of both technical modernity and dynamic aesthetics can, it turns out, have their cake and eat it. And to hell with the idea that the cake should be symmetrically shaped. 

Tan cotton contemporary suit, tab collar shirt, knitted silk tie and pocket-square, Edward Sexton; sunglasses, Cutler and Gross; watch, Audemars Piguet [RE]Master02 Selfwinding, 41mm.

Womenswear Styling: Elena Garcia
Hair and Make-up: Grace Hatcher
Models: O'Shea at Select and Ellen at IMG
With thanks to JJ Media
Electrified 1961 Bentley S2 Continental by Lunaz