You could never accuse community watch brand CODE41 of failing to surprise. In recent years it has produced a rectangular pseudo-skeleton hand-wound travel clock that fits in your pocket, the Mecascape, made an everyday tourbillon for under 10 grand and unveiled an insanely futuristic chronograph, the NB24 Stratom, featuring a redesign of the iconic Valjoux 7750 movement.
However, its latest launch has, by the brand’s own admission, been its most challenging to date: a moonphase. Or the Moon INCEPTION, to give it its proper name.
“[The challenge was] was approaching this more technical side of watchmaking, while keeping the CODE41 touch,” explains Loïc Hilaire, designer horloger for the brand. Essentially this meant moving away from the ultra-modern skeletons of previous incarnations and into something that, in founder Claudio D’Amore’s words, leaned into the “elegance and emotion of the art of watchmaking”.
This being CODE41 though, the team wasn’t ever going to stick a tiny insubstantial window at six o’clock. If it was going to do a moonphase, it was going to make that complication the star.
“For us, it was all about combining this unique air of classicism and poetry with CODE41’s emblematic aesthetic,” says D’Amore. Dominating the dial is a super-realistic moon, backdropped by a starscape, which was created exclusively for CODE41 by award-winning Jura-based movement-modifying specialist AJS, who created the engraved oscillating weight that’s also exclusive to this watch.
The lunar inspiration doesn’t stop there. The intertwined circles and crescents evoke both the phases and the contours of the moon, while the dial has been sandblasted to mimic its rocky, undulating surface.
To emphasise the classic nature of this complication the bezel has been refined and slimmed down and the sapphire crystal is flat as opposed to CODE41’s usual convex style. Powering it is a Sellita that CODE41 has naturally reworked – changing the moon disc, customising the oscillating weight and, presumably, moving the date window so it sits at two o’clock and, with the enlarged moonphase aperture, forms an ‘8’ – the symbol of infinity.
As always, every stage of the Moon INCEPTION‘s development was voted on by the brand’s community members who decided everything from the steel case size (41.5mm not 40mm) to whether to offer a COSC-certified version. Thanks to 1,137 people voting ‘yes’, this extra level of testing is now an option, comes with a £273 (inc.tax) fee, and improves the watch’s accuracy from the standard -7/+7 to -4/+6 per day.
There is also the chance to assemble your own Moon INCEPTION, supervised by professionals of course, in a watchmaking workshop. There are just 16 places available so make sure you set your alarm, or consult your moonphase, for the first full moon of 2024 on January 25 when bookings for this, and pre-orders for the watch itself, will open.
There are three dial options – all black, all blue, and blue and silver – with CODE41’s myriad strap styles and colours available for you to choose from. Rather wittily, the pre-orders will stay open for a full lunar month, closing at the next full moon on February 23.
In true CODE41 style, thanks to its TTO (or Total Transparency on Origin) policy whereby the country of origin of every element of the watch is listed, the watch is incredible value for money. The non-COSC certified version starts from £2,905 inc. tax (or CHF 3,295, €3,275 and $3,345 ex-tax). To have it sent to COSC, just add on £273 (or CHF 300, €316 and $315 ex-tax). You also have the option of paying in two, three, four or six interest-free instalments and can also cancel for free so long as your order hasn’t been dispatched.
In modern watches, moonphases have seemed irrelevant. Too small on the dial to be read at a glance and not really necessary in everyday life. CODE41 has taken something expendable and turned it into something extraordinary. And you don’t have to wish upon a star to afford it.
A paid partnership with CODE41 – words and opinion are Ape’s own.