June 13, 2013
by Ariel Adams
In 2009 Francois Quentin started the new brand 4N to produce the 4N-MVT01/D01 watch that we debuted back here in 2010. It was an ambitious project that involved the production of a fully mechanical watch that showed the time digitally on a series of overlapping discs. In 2011 we offered a hands-on look at a more complete prototype of the 4N, but one that wasn’t quite working yet. Now, his own piece is being sold and Francois will hand deliver the watch to whomever buys it.
Francois informed us that the system to move the discs wasn’t quite done yet and that 4N was going to use the services of expert watch movement design house Renaud & Papi. In early 2013 I finally got to see the finished version of the 4N-MVT01/D01 limited edition watch. About four years of work for just 16 watches. In reality though 4N will produce some additional versions in the future, but the first 16 will always be a reminder of the efforts and the challenges of designing new types of mechanical movements.
4N has promised that future versions of the watch will not have orange, but perhaps other colors and case styles. We still love the original 4N-MVT01/D01, though I would have thought after four years they could have come up with an actual name versus reference number. I still just call it “the 4N” watch, and am hoping for 4N to give the timepiece a proper name if they are going to produce more of them. The 16 watches come in either titanium, 18k white gold, or platinum. All of them are sold save for one that will be the subject of a flash sale on TouchOfModern today, June 13th. There is a link to where you can register for the sale tomorrow. I am pretty sure the watch will come with that typical flash sale discount – by the way, it is one of the 18k white gold 4N watches.
The whole point of the 4N watch was to be mechanically interesting, yet modern and legible. The case looks like a rectangular version of the Louis Vuitton Tambour. The time is framed in a small orange box on the dial, and yes it is very legible. Positioning the discs close together, but also giving them enough room to move around, was a challenge. The final movement is of course manually wound, and has a power reserve of 10 days (237 hours), which is quite a long time.