If you are interested in new developments in the world of watchmaking, it is very likely that you have already heard about the CODE41 brand, which by the way is not one, at least not in the proper sense of the term. Let’s discover what lies behind this name, and behind its new project titled X41.
CODE41, quick history
The origins of CODE41 date back to 2016, under the name of Goldgena Project. It was then a project launched by a small Swiss watch design studio based in Lausanne, on the shores of Lake Geneva, which decided not to do things like everyone else. In summary, the objective of the Goldgena Project, which has now become CODE41, was to “kick the watchmaker’s anthill.” To do this, the idea was to revolutionize the sector on three levels:
- At the level of distribution, eliminating intermediaries that are part of the reasons why luxury watches are so expensive.
- In terms of transparency in relation to the price and origin of the materials used to design the produced watches, so as not to hide anything from buyers.
- At the level of the organization of a watchmaking house itself, providing a strong community aspect that would become almost central to important decisions, as well as to the more secondary ones.
This is more or less what CODE41 achieves today.
CODE41 watches are distributed exclusively on the Internet and through the development of a sponsorship logic that compensates the customer who has become a business provider. (We put our code at the end of the article). The group has now created its own quality label based on the transparency of the origin of the materials and components that make a watch. This label is called TTO, for “Total transparency in origin”, understand “Total transparency of origin”. And finally, the community regularly addresses the community of CODE41 followers, either in the form of crowdfunding for future projects or in the form of multiple-choice questionnaires to guide designers and other stakeholders in the design of Upcoming Models Multiple addresses CODE41, therefore, offers a completely new way of looking at things and developing a clock concept.
The X41 project
The X41 project is the last in the CODE41 program. From the first watches offered under the name CODE41 in 2016, the group had chosen to use the movements of the Japanese manufacturer Miyota for certain models and the Swiss manufacturer ETA for others. In both cases, they were already very well done movements, with a relatively equivalent robustness and reliability, with greater delicacy in terms of finishes and precision in terms of ETA calibres. For your new X41 project, it was decided to take it to the next level.
The objective of this project is clear and precise: “Create the first community manufacturing movement and democratize Haute Horlogerie.” In fact, CODE41 has already begun producing its first movements manufactured, designed, manufactured and assembled entirely in Switzerland, from its trusted partner: The Manufacture Timeless. This company internally manufactures all the components that are used in the movements it produces, with the exception of pendulums that are purchased from reliable long-standing suppliers.
The same caliber
For this X41 project, emphasis was placed on the Art of Watchmaking itself. The movement used is created in small series of less than 1000 pieces per year, its design and architecture are completely new and exclusive, and its finishes are done by hand, as is its assembly.
It contains 297 components, including 33 rubies. It hits at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, or 4Hz, and its accuracy is -2 / + 10 seconds per day. Precision worthy of the movements used in some of the most sophisticated watches in the world.
It offers a power reserve of 45 hours. It allows you to read the time directly in the movement, without a dial, which is very frequent in the movements considered as Haute Horlogerie. This also offers a date thanks to two rotating discs numbered side by side.
Therefore, each of the movements of these small series is assembled by hand, then subjected to important and demanding test batteries. Nothing is left to chance, and the Swiss watchmaking experience is honored.
One of the main points of this x41 movement is the use of a peripheral and unconventional oscillating mass as in the vast majority of automatic movements. This component is dominated by a very small number of haute horlogerie brands, and is a true technical feat. The oscillating peripheral weight allows, among other things, to limit the thickness of the movement, but also to offer a greater visibility of the rest of the caliber, since it does not hide any component of the latter, regardless of its place during its rotation.
To perform the work represented by the assembly of this movement of manufacture of Haute Horlogerie, I advise you to watch the following video, if possible with headphones:
Project X41 watches, technical information
The X41 project watch cases are 42 millimeters in diameter and 11.7 millimeters thick. Therefore, they are relatively large cases that do not go unnoticed. However, they are made of grade 2 titanium, a 43% lighter material than steel. Therefore, the watch weighs only 55 grams and 85 grams, including the leather strap. It is 24 millimeters wide and is easily interchangeable, without tools.
The crystal used is a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal that protects both sides of the watch, to better appreciate the delicacy of the manufacturing movement in action. The pivots are made of hardened and laminated steel, a high quality treatment that helps limit wear.
These watches offer a water resistance of 5ATM. As a reminder, 5ATM means you can safely wash your hands with your X41.
Made in Switzerland or not made in Switzerland? That is the question
The CODE41 project has opposed the concept of the “Swiss Made” label from the beginning. This label is supposed to protect Swiss watchmaking knowledge, but has been criticized by many actors in the sector, in Switzerland and elsewhere. To obtain the Swiss Made label, from the adjustment of the criteria in January 2017, at least 60% of the price of a watch must come from Switzerland. This leaves the possibility that most of the mid-range watches with the Swiss Made label are supplied abroad and, in particular, in Asia, in terms of its case, its dial, its bracelet and most of the components used moving.
CODE41, therefore, does not believe in the legitimacy of this label, which will be absent from its watches, including those of the X41 project. However, 90% of its cost price comes from Switzerland, so they are more than eligible for the label. As mentioned earlier, CODE41 prefers to use its own label, TTO, which offers absolutely complete transparency in the origin of its components. Regarding the X41 project, this is what it looks like:
- Swiss origin movement. Cost: € 1,435
- Titanium case + sapphire crystal of Chinese origin. Cost: € 128
- Leather bracelet + folding clasp of Italian and Chinese origin. Cost: € 26
- Assembly made in Switzerland. Cost: € 28
- Chinese packaging Cost: € 22
Total cost without taxes: € 1,637.
That is all, transparency.
Where are they?
The first X41 pre-orders took place in March of this year, and delivery is still scheduled for December. This launch was a great success, since in less than 3 hours, the project had already raised more than one million euros in advance orders. In 30 days, 700 pieces were sold, for a total of 2,847,915 Swiss francs, or more than 2,580,000 euros.
All stages of design, production, design tests and others are documented on your website, so you can follow everything almost in real time. Monitoring a project like this as close as possible to the questions of the 12 people who now work full time on the CODE41 project has something exciting and is a real novelty. Again, CODE41 writes its own codes, far from those of the industry.
Just a few days ago, on October 29 to be precise, pre-orders for the third series of X41 watches were opened to customers who had signed up for waiting lists. Today, its site announces that there are around 200 pieces available. If you also want to be part of this adventure of Haute Horlogerie and in a few years you can say “I was there!” When CODE41 becomes a real institution, maybe it’s time to start …
PS: Our sponsorship code to support the site 🙂: THEO5777 (but does not work for the X41).