HANDS-ON: The CODE41 Mecascape is a truly unique timekeeping device HANDS-ON: The CODE41 Mecascape is a truly unique timekeeping device

HANDS-ON: The CODE41 Mecascape is a truly unique timekeeping device

Fergus Nash

The practicality of a wristwatch is a controversial topic in a world of smartphones and atomic clocks, especially when you can get a bulletproof digital watch for less than $50. Inventing a separate timekeeping device that doesn’t strap to your wrist sounds more like a step backwards than forwards at first, but there are several other factors to consider. Humans are not entirely practical creatures, and the CODE41 Mecascape ticks a lot of the boxes to do with innovation, craftsmanship, and sheer coolness. Sitting somewhere in-between a pocket watch, a desk clock and a smart tablet, the CODE41 Mecascape is a unique device for people who want to change up their timekeeping habits.

The CODE41 Mecascape project began all the way back in 2009, when the brand founder Claudio D’amore first began to envision what a new kind of unconstrained timepiece could look like. Although the execution of the finished product is entirely modern, the attitudes and approach behind its creation are really very romantic. The heart of mechanical watchmaking can often be lost in the pursuit of newness and complexity, but the way the Mecascape has been flattened, simplified and laid out bare allows you to pore over every aspect of the working components. We’ve been forced to break out of our typical reviewing structure for the MECASCAPE, as the case, dial and movement have well and truly had their borders broken down into one homogenised orchestra of parts.

CODE41 dials have always been marvellous to admire, with an incredibly architectural method of constructing an openworked dial. Instead of an organically flowing structure, the Mecascape uses perpendicular struts of opposing diagonal angles with a perfect balance between solid and hollow sections. The result is a skeletonisation which doesn’t feel too empty nor too busy, letting you follow the mechanical path from the mainspring barrels above the GMT, down and across to the balance wheel to the right of the small seconds hand. Overall, the effect is quite evocative of a spaceship’s navigational instruments, providing a small window of fantasy escapism whenever you wish to check the time.

As with most tablets and screens, the CODE41 Mecascape derives its dimensions from the Golden Ratio as well as the layout of its displays. The case is 71mm tall and 108mm wide, a size that should neatly fill the inner pocket of an average suit jacket. As to not disturb the lines of a suit, and also keeping it strong yet lightweight, the Mecascape’s case is only 8mm thick and made from grade 5 titanium. Maintaining contrasts in a totally matte presentation, the flanges of the case are coarsely sandblasted while the bezel and caseback is brushed finely. You may have also noticed that there are crowns on either side of the Mecascape, with the left one in control of the main time display and the right one controlling the GMT hand as well as the manual winding of the movement.

In addition to the conjoined subdials for the hours, minutes and seconds, looking almost like a steampunk cluster of gauges, the CODE41 Mecascape also includes a number of complications. Of course the GMT display is hard to miss, with its translucent world map visible beneath a tactical-looking crosshair. Tucked away just below the 60 of the minutes display is a white skeletonised date wheel, with a white panel beneath it to highlight the correct numerals. A meter at the top right corner keeps you informed of the Mecascape’s power reserve, which is a lavish eight days long.

To create their manufacture movement for the Mecascape, CODE41 collaborated with Cercle des Horlogers — an independent Swiss workshop who specialise in developing haute horology technology. With a total of 237 components, the Mecascape is still easy to look at from the front view, and there’s also a small sapphire window in the back for you to study the quality of their finishing without distraction.

The CODE41 Mecascape has four total versions across three main colourways, each bringing a subtle change of personality for the timepiece. The first option is the most raw and industrial, with the titanium-grey bridges and black dials for each of the displays, with red accents on the hands. The stealthier option, if you can call it that, uses a black coating for the bridges to let some of the silver components glow from beneath, and the white dials to stand out a lot more. The more colourful of the three main options has bridges of a pale blue, which can either be made fruitier with green-tipped hands or remain classic with white hands to match its white dials.

The CODE41 Mecascape pricing and availability:

The preorder period for the CODE41 Mecascape has been extended until December 31st, with an estimated delivery date of Septermber/October 2023. At the time of writing, there are only 53 slots still available out of 150 pieces. The Mecascape also comes with a microfibre-lined leather carry case and a free stand so you can display it on a desk without precarious balancing. Price: US$10,945