The CODE41 NB24 Edition 2 Chronograph offers complex Swiss watchmaking at an accessible price The CODE41 NB24 Edition 2 Chronograph offers complex Swiss watchmaking at an accessible price

The CODE41 NB24 Edition 2 Chronograph offers complex Swiss watchmaking at an accessible price

D.C. Hannay

If you’ve always found yourself attracted to the highly technical mechanical movements produced by the upper echelons of Swiss horology, but have been put off by the sometimes staggering cost of entry, CODE41 would like to talk to you. The focus of the conversation would be the CODE41 NB24 Edition 2 Chronograph, further pushing the envelope of cutting-edge Swiss watch manufacturing, all at an entirely approachable price.

Skeletonized Swiss watches, with their horological chops fully on display were, for a long time, the exclusive domain of watchmakers like Roger Dubuis, Richard Mille, Girard-Perregaux, and others with their racing-inspired aesthetics and typically eye-watering price points. Their in-house movements and openworked dials have thrilled fans of high horology, but sadly, most remain out of the reach of all but the most well-heeled watch enthusiasts. 

The designers at CODE41 are looking to change that, and the NB24 Edition 2 furthers that aim, beginning with its visibly beating heart (and raison d’être), the NB24 autowinding cam-driven manufacture chronograph.  The movement is based on the legendarily reliable Valjoux 7750, but this is no off-the-shelf reference. Rather, it’s been fully customised by CODE41’s manufacturing partners at Concepto.

The engineers set about a serious reinvention of its basic architecture by moving the counters, completely reworking the bridges, and most notably, adding a peripheral oscillating weight on the dial side, a notoriously difficult modification. CODE41 states that this complication alone added a third to the cost of production, but the effort is well worth the added expense in their eyes. 

As for the layout, you’ll find traditional hour, minute, and chronograph seconds hands centrally situated, with a 30-minute counter disk at 3, date at 6, and a running seconds disk at 9, and bright LumiNova coating the hands and indices. The movement is comprised of 326 separate components with 35 jewels, and all movement components aside from the jewels and mainspring are actually produced in-house. This is something of a point of pride for the maker: Fully 85% of the watch is produced entirely in Switzerland. By law, a watch is only required to have 60% of its value to be of Swiss origin in order to earn the coveted (and highly marketable) “Swiss made” label, but CODE41 does not make that claim, opting instead for full supply chain transparency. You can read for yourself the origin of every component on their website.

All this eye candy is fully visible through the skeletonized dial, available in four distinctive colourways: Black, Green, Blue, or the racy Red Disks variant. The multiple levels of the various dial components feature elements that are reminiscent of postmodern architecture, highlighted by pops of coordinated colour. They’re all bold, busy, and brash, but forced to choose, I’d probably go with the Red Disks version, as I’m attracted to the highly contrasting black, white, and red components, which increase legibility. It just looks fast standing still, and would be perfectly at home on the wrist of a Formula 1 driver. 

Next, we move to the case and all its sculptural intricacy, with a nice variety of surface finishing. You have the option of choosing either Grade 5 titanium or AeroCarbon, both lightweight, race-inspired materials perfectly appropriate for such a fast-looking timepiece. Weight for the titanium watch head alone is 78 grams, and the carbon clocks in at a featherweight 64 grams. Not too shabby for a 42mm diameter timepiece, although the case depth of 13.7mm is impressive for a chronograph movement of this complexity. Both are a great choice, but I find myself leaning toward the AeroCarbon version, both for the lighter weight and the stealthy variegated  black appearance, a nice complement to the red/black componentry of the Red Disks dial option. A supercar for the wrist, if you will. Pushers are located in the traditional 2 and 4 o’clock positions, and the sapphire caseback offers a full view of the movement.

At this point it should be mentioned that the NB24 is water resistant to 100 metres, helped no doubt by the screwdown caseback, secured by four hex screws. Between the two different case materials and four dial colourways, a total of eight variants are available, and can be further customized with your choice of a titanium bracelet, leather strap, or the new R41 rubber strap in five complementary colours. Pro tip: always buy the bracelet version and add on the straps. It’s the smart money play.

To sum up, you’d be hard-pressed to find better value in a timepiece with this level of build quality and complexity. CODE41 has done a bang-up job with this evolution of the NB24, bringing all the wonders of haute horology to an entirely new audience. And to be quite frank, it’s a good deal more Swiss than many “Swiss” timepieces.

Pricing and availability:

The CODE 41 NB24 Edition 2 Chronograph is available now until December 16th with prices starting at 4,593 CHF. Full information can be found here