It is a remarkable idea, to fashion a mechanical timepiece after a digital watch. 4N has done just that. Using high tech material and technologically advanced design, 4N is releasing a mere 16 watches crafted to look like the regular $3 digital watch, but actually containing no batteries at all. The price will be in the tens of thousands.
The 4N - name is derived from the fact that a digital watch read out has 4 numbers - is completely mechanical. The numbers are placed on 4 discs. Although the result is simple and easy to read - not one of these "hard to decipher" read outs - the intense research, design and craftsmanship required to effectively create a watch ,which displays the time in a manner one is familiar with, but utilizes a completely different method to achieve this goal, is exceedingly difficult. The hours and minutes are jumping which means their is no steady display of time progression, but rather a quick leap from one hour or minute to the next; however, to achieve complete accuracy, the watch must keep time behind the scenes, thus a constant force escapement , which exerts a constant force from the mainspring and throughout the movement, is required. The movement consists of a double barrel, Breguet over coil balance spring, 520 parts and 86 jewels. Now this is the kicker - this watch has a power reserve of 238 hours.
The watch has some resemblance to Harry Winston Opus Eleven in the manner that numerals are the moving parts, and not just stationary indications on the dial. An orange outline is affixed to the underside of the sapphire crystal to mimic the square rectangle displaying the read out on a digital watch. The case is crafted from either 18k white gold and platinum, and the movement titanium, aluminum alloys, and carbon fiber. The jewels are fashioned to resemble blinking LED lights, and the rectangular shape of the case resembles a bedside digital alarm clock. The band has no clasp, but opens at the bezel. This watch a fusion between traditional watch craftsmanship, prior to quartz, and modern day representations of time.
The idea of displaying a digital read out with the use of a mechanical movement is not entirely new, back in 2008 De Grisogono Meccanico DG utilised 651 components to achieve its effect; however, De Grisigono used 23 horizontally and vertically positioned micro segments to display the time. - click here to read more about the De Grisogono Meccanico DG timepiece.
The 4N MVT01/D01/42 (sounds like a printer toner) is still being fine tuned, but with François Quentin at the helm, once the watch is completed, the effect will be perfection.