We’re moving up a gear!

Many of you have been asking us for it for over 2 years now. Well, good news for those people: It’s coming! Who? What? The chronograph! Finally!!

In spite of these (very) strange times, we’re delighted to launch the new chrono project, because creating a chronograph is anything but a walk in the park… It’s one of the most intricate movements in existence. Like tourbillons and other minute repeaters, it is the epitome of specialist complications. But before we get to the heart of the matter, let’s take a look at what exactly a chronograph movement is, and how it came to be.

What is a chronograph?

Don’t confuse Chronometers and Chronographs.
A Chronometer is a precise timekeeping device capable of showing the time reliably. Depending on defined criteria, it may be certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) in Switzerland.

The chronograph is a timekeeping device that can be started and stopped in order to measure a time interval, and then reset to zero.

A bit of history 

At the end of the 17th century, the Genevese watchmaker Jean Moïse invented the first watches capable of indicating the duration of an observation. Then, throughout the 18th century, French and Swiss watchmakers competed technically and creatively in the race for the chronograph (counter indicating/60th of a second, ink blot system on the dial, double second-hand, and the invention of the cam for resetting to zero, not forgetting the push-button). 1860s: production of the chronograph spread through Switzerland (in Geneva and the Vallée de Joux).

1913: the Swiss designed the first wristwatches; then, at the end of 1960 came the race for the first automatic chronograph movement. Thus, the famous Calibre 11 (also known as the Chronomatic) came to be. Chronograph movements continued to break new ground in both technical and esthetic terms, even though few manufacturers produced their movements themselves. Use in motor sports and athletics led this very intricate movement to iconic status.

A high-end timekeeping complication

As enthusiasts will know well, the chronograph is one of the most complex watch movements. It is categorized as a “grande complication”, which puts it on the same technical level as the tourbillon and the perpetual calendar. It’s much more difficult to create than it might seem, not to mention the fact that there are various different chronograph complications:

  1. Flyback” chronograph: capable of beginning a new time interval while the first is still active.
  2. Rattrapante” chronograph: a second hand measures split times, then instantly “catches” the chronograph’s main hand.
  3. Concentric” chronograph: provides a more “intuitive” display of the measured interval, on just one dial.

Cam or column wheel?

  • With a column wheel: the wheel is the mechanism’s command center for the activation, deactivation and resetting of the measurement function.
  • Cam and lever (or shuttle cam): the ensemble of balances, hammers and other levers is driven by a cam. This component doesn’t turn, but instead moves the mechanism backwards and forwards, like a shuttle.

On a purely technical level, both approaches can hold their own.

Which mechanical movement suits our chronograph?

Now more than ever, times are hard in Swiss watchmaking, for multiple reasons:

  • The erosion of entry-level and mid-range watch sales, benefiting Fine Watchmaking and luxury brands
  • The wave of smart watches
  • Difficulties in appealing to new generations
  • The consequences of COVID-19

Age-old expertise is in great need of support. That’s why we want to take action and actively support it by integrating a Swiss movement into our chronograph case.

But then that invites the question: mass-produced mechanical movement or personalized CODE41 movement? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons, then you can place your vote:

Mass-produced Swiss mechanical movement

Advantage: attractive price, around 300 CHF / 280 EUR per movement, and the whole watch would come to around 1,700 CHF / 1,615 EUR

Disadvantage: mass-produced – they can be found in various different brand’s watches

  • 960

Personalized CODE41 Swiss mechanical movement (our prefered route)

Advantages: manufacture movement exclusive to CODE41; the chance to go behind the scenes of the development of the movement with a Swiss manufacturer; the opportunity to add special features like a peripheral weight

Disadvantage: high price, around 550 CHF / 520 EUR per movement – the whole watch would retail at around 2,600 CHF / 2,470 EUR

  • 3914

Any other suggestions?

Share your ideas with us in the comments, whether they’re technical, esthetic or ergonomic. We read everything!

Project schedule:

STEP 2, 1 JUL.
Presentation of initial designs
STEP 3, 19 AUG.
Design developments
STEP 4, 16 SEP.
Color research - launch of prototypes
STEP 5, 7 OCT.
Final details and ultimate collection
STEP 6, 25 NOV.
Receipt of prototypes
STEP 7, 27 JAN.
Launch of pre-orders

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  1. janet.burrage@hotmail.com says:

    as iam bang into watches/I think its a blinding way to go?you should go down the road of a nice army watch/ive smiths one from the late 40,s iwc I think,iam going to grab one of your £800 watches and see what their all about.by the way iam martin,just use my old lady,s email,nice one,martin

    • Valentine
      Valentine says:

      Thank you for your message! Sure get one and let us know your feedback 😉 Your opinion is the one that counts the most for us!

  2. Romain says:

    Bonjour, j’espère que l’engouement manifesté par la communauté pour votre projet Chrono vous donne des ailes et que vous pourrez tenir compte des avis, des attentes et des goûts exprimés.
    J’ai déjà donné mes préférences, je n’y reviens pas, je vous envoie juste un message d’encouragement.
    En espérant que vous êtes motivés à nous présenter des choses qui sortent de l’ordinaire, dans la lignée de Code 41 et que vous nous solliciterez sur des options (techniques / esthétiques) pour nous permettent de participer encore un peu plus au projet. Hâte de recevoir un prochain mail de Claudio !! A bientôt

    • Valentine
      Valentine says:

      Motivés est encore un mot trop faible 😉 Nous sommes heureux, enthousiastes, impatients, motivés, reconnaissants de votre soutien et nous réjouissons de vous montrer la suite 🙂

  3. Verdier Jonathan says:

    Bonjour,
    Félicitations pour le projet, pour les projets, pour commencer =)
    Je dirais que ce qui rendrait cette montre parfaite est un cadran qui présente des reliefs, différents niveaux, mais tout en ayant une épaisseur contenue.
    Un verre bombé.
    Une lecture possible la nuit.
    Des matériaux résistants et inrayables.
    Et puis soyons fous, pourquoi ne pas avoir un témoin de la rotation de la masse sur le cadran =)

    Bon courage et merci pour cette approche “participative”

  4. perez alain says:

    j’ai déjà une montre anomaly 01 dont je suis ravi , j’attend avec impatience la présentation des premiers designs du chrono, pour moi il doit avoir un look sportif, avec un design moderne

  5. Franck says:

    Bonjour
    L’esthétique de ce nouveau projet chrono restera sur le principe squelette comme les projets précédents X41 et date

  6. Dietrich says:

    Ich gehöre beim Uhrendesign eher der “form follows function”-Fraktion an, die möglichst gute Ablesbarkeit ist mir sehr wichtig. Denn auch wenn ich im Alltag nicht zwingend auf die Zeitanzeige meiner mechanischen Uhr angewiesen bin, sollte sie meiner Meinung nach trotzdem primär diese Funktion erfüllen. Denn das ist schliesslich ihr Zweck. Bei einem Chronographen favorisiere ich daher eher ein instrumentelles Design – kann mich aber auch der Faszination eines von oben sichtbaren Werkes nicht wirklich entziehen. Beides unter einen Hut zu bringen ist sicherlich eine sehr schwierige Herausforderung. Hier könnte z.B. ein von unten mit Ziffern und/oder Skalierung bedrucktes Glas eine schöne Lösung sein.

  7. Onofrio Sperandeo says:

    I Vostri modelli, anche quelli in cui il meccanismo non è in vista, hanno un aspetto di freddezza glaciale. Siete assolutamente certi che ciò sia conforme ai gusti di tutti? Siete assolutamente certi che non avreste un numero maggiore di clienti se offriste anche modelli di aspetto meno freddo?