Baselworld 2010: 4N (New Brand) 4N-MVT01 (Model)
by Kyle Stults on March 07, 2010

New Brand, New Model – it tells the time, plain and simple…

The 4N-MVT01, by François Quentin

Limited edition of 16 in 18-carat white gold and 16 in platinum

Price: unknown

This is the first watch from a new brand known simply as “4N”.  4N – which stands for “4 numbers” and is a reference to the four digits on a digital counter which represents the tens of hours, hours, tens of minutes and minutes – was founded in 2009 by designer François Quentin.  François Quentin is perhaps best-known as a  co-founder of the avant-garde watch brand HAUTLENCE in 2004 (along with Renaud de Retz and Guillame Tetu), and as co-designer of the Tambour, the flagship model released by Louis Vuitton several years ago.

The idea behind 4N was/is to create a simple digital display and propose a mechanical alternative to analogue timepieces with moving hands, and I like what François Quentin came up with in this regard.    The model you see above is formally known as 4N-MVT01/D01/42. While this odd naming structure perhaps suits the tastes of its designer just fine, I think it is a rather unremarkable model name that will not leave a strong nor lasting impression in anyone’s mind.  Which is too bad, really, because the watch is actually quite interesting.

Quentin has purportedly tried to steer clear of “complex effects and has refrained from adding aesthetic and technical touches which might take away from the visibility of the hour display”.  However I must voice some disagreement with this notion because while the time is clearly displayed at the center of the dial, the dial in its entirety reflects and openworked effect and is actually somewhat visually distracting.  That is, distracting as compared to an alternative such as simply showing the time and hiding the rest behind the dial.  But lest I be accused of quibbling (which I probably am), I do admit that I like the watch as it is.  The time appears and is displayed in one way only, and while the whole assembly does reveal a pattern of scattered figures, the time is clearly displayed on a horizontal plane in the centre of the dial, in strong, bold lettering.

The movement is manual winding, with time display based on a clever configuration of discs rotating in discontinuous mode. Three discs sub-assemblies, made of aluminium or titanium alloys and held in carbon cage structures, are activated to reveal the time on a display which changes as each minute passes (4 discs for the hour, 5 for the minutes and 1 for the tens of minutes).  The mechanism uses a constant-force jump system which guarantees minimum energy consumption, regardless of the winding tension.  Note also the two crowns on the left side of the case which enable hours to be set independently of the minutees.  Lastly, I also find interesting the strap, which is mounted on the case by an automatic fastening system and its length can be adjusted as necessary. Unfortunately I do not know the dimensions of the case, hopefully it is not too big.

In summary,  I must stay that I find 4N’s first watch to be quite refreshing!  It reflects out-of-the-ordinary thinking for doing something very ordinary – telling the time.  I’ll give François Quentin two thumbs up!