The watch world is a universe shrouded in mystery and mystique. For newcomers to the game, it can be incredibly daunting trying to navigate the thousands of watches available.
There are expensive watches that to the untrained eye look quite basic, and intricate timepieces that are seemingly good value. Some of the most desirable watches are the most difficult to source, while those which are readily available are often the least desirable.
Yet, a shining new light enters, CODE41, a disruptor to the watch industry established in 2016. Without even mentioning a single watch that the brand produces, a cursory glance at their online story clearly and transparently explains the inner workings of the secretive watch industry, from production to pricing and everything in between – a rare sight within the watch community.
Indeed, transparency is the single most prominent word which comes to mind when browsing the CODE41 website, and it’s something the brand is so passionate about that each of its watches has a TTO (Total Transparency on Origin) breakdown of the country of origin and cost of every component along the production journey, even sharing profit margins. Traditional luxury watch brands could have a heart attack if such transparency was mandatory across the industry.
In this piece, we will explore the history of the CODE41 brand, discuss their fascinating approach to watch-building and explore the latest mechanical timepieces produced by the company.
ABOUT CODE41 WATCHES
CODE41 is so named as ’41’ is the country code of Switzerland, the home of the world’s finest watchmaking, and a core tenet of the brand’s identity.
The story of this new company is absolutely fascinating, and their purity of purpose in delivering the best possible mechanical watches, tailored to prospective owner preferences in every detail and at a reasonable price is admirable.
CODE41 was established by Claudio D’Amore in 2016 and is essentially a crowd-funded enterprise to break down the barriers that established luxury watch brands defend to deliver the highest quality mechanical watches to genuine watch-lovers at the best price.
Every decision, from movement and case size to colors and strap materials is decided via online consensus by members of the CODE41 community. CODE41 hence aims to deliver precisely what the customer wants down to the finest detail, with the quality of materials and fine craftsmanship of their watches being of paramount importance at all times.
CODE41 particularly appeals to me as I have always been an advocate of the skeleton mechanical watch – the more intricate twinkling parts moving harmoniously that can be seen through the sapphire crystal dial and rear case back the better.
To that end and from their very first collection, appropriately named Anomaly, the brand has delivered wonderfully made mechanical skeleton watches in a wide range of colors, beautifully machined and assembled in an authentic Swiss watchmaking fashion.
The Day41 collection features both 37mm and 40mm cases for a unisex sizing, with some watch movements even featuring diamonds for an added sense of occasion.
In the spirit of transparency and to reduce costs, the brand’s initial Anomaly and Day41 watches utilized intricate and reliable mechanical movements made by established Swiss manufacturers such as Sellita and STP. The watches are very competitively priced, and the last remaining pieces in both collections are still available so act quickly if you would like to own one of these cool timepieces.
By 2020, CODE41 had embarked on a project to deliver one of their long-term goals, namely to manufacture their own mechanical in-house Swiss movement, something traditionally reserved for top luxury watchmakers.
The resultant collection, initially launched in January 2021 is known as NB24 and features beautiful chronograph watches with intricate and symmetrical internal movements.
The NB24 is available in Aerocarbon or grade 5 titanium, and as is the case with all of the brand’s collections, can be paired with a variety of different strap colors and materials. It is also worth noting that additional straps can be purchased separately on the company’s website for added variety.
The second edition range of CODE41’s NB24 watches has returned for a limited time only, with a scheduled delivery date of June 2023.
The X41 range of mechanical watches features a unique in-house movement that is particularly attractive, with angular geometric-shaped bridges enclosed in a case made entirely of sapphire crystal, trumped only by diamonds in terms of hardness.
The X41 is also available with a titanium or aero carbon case, but the Sapphire crystal case is truly something special being completely transparent, and also twice as light as steel.
CODE41’s X41 watches have a 45-hour power reserve, and an extra year’s warranty (three years in total), which is a testament to the quality and craftsmanship of the watches’ movements.
While pre-orders for the X41 have now closed, the company will soon release a new edition.
One of the most interesting timepieces is not a watch at all, but an incredibly unique clock known as the ‘Mecascape’. Within the Mecascape’s 98mm X 60mm face, CODE41’s mechanical movement has exploded so that the intricacy of the internal workings can be appreciated on a larger scale than a wristwatch.
The Mecascape’s movement features no less than 237 components and 37 jewels and is encased in a carefully machined grade 5 titanium case. This piece is a definite must-have for any watch-fan and would look so cool on a desk ticking away, albeit the movement is so interesting to watch that you may not get very much work done. Preorders for the CODE41 Mecascape begin in the fall – something to mark on your calendar.
T360 TOURBILLON COLLECTION
However, having achieved all of the above, it is CODE41’s latest ‘Tourbillon’ collection that marks its pinnacle.
Only the most exquisite and uber-high-end watch brands usually produce movements that feature a tourbillon, as not only is this an incredibly challenging feat, but it’s also inordinately expensive. Even for CODE41, the Tourbillon T360 watches are priced at 9,598 USD.
The tourbillon mechanism was patented by Abraham-Louis Breguetin 1801 to counteract the effect of gravity on a watch’s mechanical movement. This is achieved by essentially encasing a watch’s balance wheel, hairspring, and escapement in a rotating mobile cage, hence why tourbillon watches are so mesmerizing to watch in operation.
Like all of CODE41’s watches, the T360 Tourbillon was designed in collaboration with the company’s community with no less than 12,500 voles being cast to decide the watch’s design, case shape, and style of the tourbillon.
The resulting movement and tourbillon are 100% developed and assembled in Switzerland, and feature an impressive 105-hour power reserve and an accuracy of +/- 5 seconds per day. The beautiful tourbillon at the 6 o’clock position completes a full 360-degree revolution every 60 seconds.
As with all of CODE41’s timepieces, this beautiful movement can be admired from the front or rear through the watch’s sapphire crystal face and rear window.
In the spirit of the transparency that is synonymous with the brand, CODE41 lists all of the Swiss partners involved in supplying the components of the T360’s wonderful tourbillon movement.
CODE41’s Tourbillon T360 watch is available with a choice of two different 42mm case designs. The first case, NativeDNA, has been used by CODE41 since its inception, while the Stratom case is brand new for 2023 and features a multi-layer construction made from grade 5 Titanium.
The T360 also offers prospective purchasers an unprecedented level of personalization from case design to dial colors and strap materials, with over 200 combinations being available. My own personal favorite is the T360 with the titanium dial, NativeDNA round case design, and a titanium bracelet.
While the T360 is a watch that should ideally be reserved for special occasions to complement a formal outfit such a suit, CODE41 are keen to highlight the fact that all of their watches are designed for everyday use.
As so many combinations of materials and colors are available, the T360 is a very versatile piece from a styling perspective, and could even be paired with a streetwear outfit for an edgy vibe that would complement the watches’ design and brand philosophy.
The Tourbillon T360 is CODE41’s crowning glory to date and is limited to only 150 examples. The pre-order window is from 19th April to 26th May, and with such a relatively small quantity of incredible timepieces being available, best to set those calendar reminders right away.
CODE41 is truly a breath of fresh air in the watch industry, with an unprecedented level of transparency in terms of the cost and construction of their timepieces, not to mention providing a fascinating insight into the watch-making industry as a whole.
The fact that CODE41 has designed and developed each of their watch ranges in tandem with their customers, collecting their input during each project journey, and culminating in expertly crafting some of the coolest and most intricate timepieces available on the market is even more admirable.