4N has published a video introducing the MVT01 Sapphire Planet that will be presented at Baselworld in March. They haven’t provided any details, but it looks as if they have machined the case entirely out of sapphire to provide an even more intriguing view of this original timepiece. Richard Mille used sapphire in the same way in the Tourbillon RM 56-02, and likewise Emmanuel Bouchet in his Complication 1 presented in January this year. Below, two stills from the video teaser:
4N came onto the scene in 2009 with the MVT-01, an unusual piece that combined the aesthetic of 1970s alarm clock radios with fine watchmaking, showing the time by means of a series of overlapping discs. Brand owner and designer François Quentin worked with movement design company Renaud & Papi, affiliated to Audemars Piguet, to perfect the engineering, and in particular the problem of how to metre the energy: the discs are jumping, so that they remain motionless for just under a minute, and then suddenly need an injection of more than the usual amount of energy to move all the discs at once. The complication of the task can be gauged from the 78 jewelled bearings contained in the movement. Below, the titanium version of the 4N-MVT01, and a view of the movement with the discs removed.
The brand’s name 4N reflects the unique display: 4N, 4 Numbers, the four digits of the numerical display. To attain the large numeral sizes (5.5 mm high), there are four discs for the hour, five for the minutes, and one for the ten-minutes.