It is a truth universally acknowledged, in horological spheres, that a man in his 30s in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a mechanical watch. But while millennials are driving the sector’s growth for now, at what point might Gen-Z get in on the act?
A large step towards that scenario here in Britain, arguably, is online-only watchmaker CODE41’s decision to launch in the UK. Founded by Claudio D’Amore, who designed watches for the likes of TAG Heuer and Montblanc for 10 years, CODE41has democratised its creative process by allowing watch fans to vote on everything from the brand’s logo to individual elements of each watch and future business strategy.
At the moment, the community consists of 200,000 individuals who typically appreciate artisanal watchmaking but aren’t fussed about recognisable labels. Anyone can join the group and become proactive in shaping any future projects, and the first 941 contributors to each product can purchase watches that are numbered and engraved with the words ‘Founding Member.’
Dragging watchmaking even further into the luxury commercial zeitgeist, CODE41 also asserts its commitment to transparency, aiming as it does to offer customers insight into where everything used for the manufacture – the movement, the stainless steel or forged carbon casing, the leather used in straps – was sourced from.
The brand claims that it charges a modest 3.5 times the production cost of its watches (compared to the industry norm of around 10 times), the direct-to-customer distribution network being one cost saving, and that profits generated by their current series of watches are used to finance the next production run.
The company currently offers two models, the Anomaly-01 (from £592.30, £1’316.02 in forged carbon) and the Anomaly-02 (from £685.52, £1’367.52 in forged carbon), designed with the help of the CODE41 community and utilising movements from Japan and Switzerland respectively.
“I worked as a designer in the UK for years, working with the big Swiss watch brands,” says D’Amore of his decision to expand into Britain. “Brits appreciate good design and we’re excited to share our community inspired watches with them. For us, a great watch isn’t about a brand, or a ‘Swiss Made’ label. A great watch is the product of the best design and components coming together to make something that’s both high quality and distinctive.”
The two models are certainly a solid option for the young mechanical watch lover who has neither inherited a timepiece or made his fortune: especially if the lofty values of corporate responsibility are high on his priority list.