The humble chronograph is far, far more complicated than it seems. Sure, the stopwatch timing complication has been around since 1812 (created by Louis Moinet if you’re planning a watch-themed trivia night) but it’s still a deceptively hard mechanical function. Which is why, when building your own, you generally want to keep it as simple and streamlined as possible.
That is, of course, unless you’re CODE 41.
Dedicated to accessible watchmaking as a crowd-sourced event, CODE 41’s previous project proved that haute horology wasn’t the exclusive, rarefied commodity larger brands would have you believe. The Swiss-made piece of skeletonised architecture and finely finished savoir faire was more than a little impressive in and of itself. The fact that it came in at under £5,000? That’s just showing off.
Now the disruptive watchmaking is proving that lightning does indeed strike twice with the NB24 Chronograph. As the name suggests, the new timepiece uses a stopwatch complication, operable via the two pushers flanking the crown at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock. It’s a solid take on the sometimes-flimsy Chronograph, created by the horological maestros at Concepto over in Switzerland. No shortcuts here; the NB24 is 85% made in Switzerland; most watches barely make the 60% mark need to put ‘Swiss-made’ on the dial.
What Separates The NB24 From Other Chronographs?
All in all, a good start. But what separates the NB24 from other Chronographs is what CODE 41 has done with the oscillating weight. The oscillating weight – or rotor in common parlance – is what winds an automatic watch. You can see it through most sapphire casebacks in the rare times you both to look. Here though, there’s no need; the rotor is actually on the front of the watch.
If you’re about to cry foul looking for a classic, half-moon rotor somewhere on the dial, don’t worry. The rotor is there, just around the periphery of the watch. In still images it’s easy to dismiss as an odd, engraved inner bezel but in reality, it moves with the same (lack of) grace as a classic rotor.
There are good reasons most watchmakers don’t do this. First, it requires the movement to be completely re-jigged to move the peripheral rotor to somewhere visible, which is complex, costly and too much effort for most brands to be bothered with. It also tends to not fit in with the architecture of most watches.
Fortunately for CODE 41, both problems are negligible: the first because they are evidently borderline insane, the latter because the unique, skeletonised architecture that they’ve made their house style suits the front-facing rotor perfectly.
Classic Swiss Finishing And Cutting-Edge Design
That architecture is similar to what was achieved with the X-41, but with a little more structure to it in order to clearly convey the bi-compax (two counter) chronograph layout. That said, it still has skeletonised elements, like the date ring and the visible, Côtes de Genève-decorated bridges at the centre of where the dial would be. The overall effect is a fusion of classic Swiss finishing and cutting-edge design.
The materials on the other hand are solely cutting-edge. The NB24 case comes in two different variations: Grade 5 titanium and AeroCarbon, a dense, aeronautical grade carbon fibre. Both are lightweight and incredibly strong (though the AeroCarbon takes that to the extreme) and both give the watch a much different look and feel.
Each case material has four distinct variations in the colours of the bridgework and finer details, though the titanium version with a bright green minute track is perhaps the coolest – unless you prefer the high-octane vibes of all-black carbon fibre with a red chronograph counters. To each their own.
If that weren’t enough, CODE 41 offers a grand total of 20 interchangeable straps to finish off the NB24 with a flourish, depending on it you want to bring out some of the colours or tone things down a little bit.
The Bottom Line
For now though, let’s get to what matters most: the bottom line. After all, there are skeletonised watches with peripheral rotors out there, they just cost a deposit on a 2-bedroom flat. Here? The NB24 starts at $3,480. If you could secure a flat for that, we’d all be property magnates.
In fact, to some of you that probably sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch? Nobody wants to sign away a kidney for a watch. Except… there isn’t one.
Transparency And Limited Batches
CODE 41 as a brand is all about transparency, and that means showing you just what your money is getting you. The reason they can offer such incredible value is that they don’t blow half their budget on marketing. If you see a CODE 41 billboard at an airport, the world has officially ended.
There are some downside to working this way, the main one being that the NB24 will be made in limited batches of 500 watches. That helps CODE 41 maintain quality control, but it does mean that you’ll need to get in there quickly with your pre-order if you want to secure yourself one.
Find out more for yourself at code41watches.com now.