CODE 41 has been stirring up the online watch community for a while now with their aggressive marketing based on the dissection of the “swiss made” label. Most of this is true, and it is nothing new to many people, but they are the first to market themselves in this fashion. But i don’t review marketing campaigns, I review watches, and they seem to have built some really good watches.
Their design appeals to me and it is therefore my great honour to review the Code 41 Anomaly 01 with the steel bracelet. Most of the photos you can find online of this watch has a leather strap attached to it, but I really think the watch looks much better with the steel bracelet!
Code 41 would never have existed without the crowdfunding community platforms, nor the people who donated their money into the project. And I love that! I will not talk too much about their story, because they have a section dedicated to that on their website, which is quite detailed. I will focus on what matters most:
Is this watch worth the money?
The watch comes in a very unique futuristic looking cardboard and foam packaging, and it really protects the watch from shocks since the watch case is lodged into the foam. A pretty cool looking packaging in my opinion.
At first glance, the watch is stunning! It plays so well with the light, and it looks solid and heavy. The sapphire crystal is the first specific part of the watch that caught my attention. It reflects so little light which is usually something i see on Breitling or Rolexes, not watches in this price range!
Combining the almost flawless crystal with the perfect machining of the metal, it’s considerable weight and it’s clean and layered dial, and you end up with a watch that feels like 3000 Euro watch.
What i like
The sapphire crystal
I start with the crystal because it is simply stunning! Don’t believe me? I have only adjusted the contrast of the mid-tones in the picture above, and the picture was taken outside. That should tell you all you need to know.
Yes, it is just a flat transparent protective cover, but when you start entering the world of watches, there is one thing that separates the luxury watches from the affordable ones: How much light the crystal reflects back. On some high-end timepieces you can barely see that there is a crystal!
Most companies, luxury or not, use an anti-reflective coating on their sapphire crystals. But the quality of those can vary, and i have never seen so little light reflections in this price range before. I had to bring out my Breitling to compare them, and Breitling does it a tad bit better to be honest. My breitling also has a curved crystal and their anti-reflective treatment only reflects back blue light, which is really slick! But considering the price difference (750 Euros vs. 4000 Euros) I have to applaud Code 41 for that!
Because the crystal is so well made, you get a great view into the layered dial. And it is just as stunning as the rest of the watch! There are a lot of cool elements on this dial, so bear with me as I invoke everyone one of them.
It has a total of 4 layers, very well divided out to give it immense depth! It’s almost fully brushed, except for the inside wall of the hole above the balance wheel jewel, the holes holding the marker above the seconds wheel and the 24 hours wheel and other various holes showing the movement. This is a very subtle detail that still manages to impress me.
The markers are very crisp when considering they are luminescent, and I love how they chose to put the brand name at the eleven o’clock position! The markers on the second and 24 hours wheel are also very crisp, but they are not luminescent.
They also have chosen to engrave the words “automatic” and “tto” at the 5 and six o’clock position. This is a great choice, since I find the word automatic redundant, especially when you can see the balance wheel moving. For those who are thinking “what does TTO means?”, it’s simply means “Total Transparency on Origin”. You can read more about TTO here.
I would assume it’s made out of PVD coated metal, and their choice of not coloring it fully black and using a brushed finish works well for this model. It gives it a more metallic look, whereas totally black PVD coated metal can sometimes look more like plastic.
The machining of this different parts are up to par with any luxury watch i have seen, and the more you look at this dial, the more details pop out and satisfies your eyes. Nothing is misaligned and even though there are many elements on this dial, it manages to not feel overcluttered.
Something I truly enjoy with this watch is how they display the seconds and the fixed GMT using wheels instead of hands! I don’t know if they are the first to do it, and if you guys know of another watch with the same features, i would love to see you link to it in the comments.
I also love the little “arm” that sticks out above the balance wheel. It has no purpose, but is designed to replicate the balance cock and i can’t imagine the watch without it!
Everything about this watch is unique and eye popping, so of course the hands has to be as well!
The hour and minute hands are made of polished steel, which is a great contrast to the dial and makes it very easy to read the time. They also cut twice at a small angle which is really cool and reinforces the overall depth of the dial. Leaving parts of the hands “skeletonized” helps see more of the dial and reminds me of the hands on the Omega Seamaster.
One small detail that pops out immediately when turning the watch in the light, is the brushed circle that sits on top of the hands at the center of the watch. It gives a cool contrast to that area when the light hits it!
The lume on the hands is very powerful and does what it’s supposed to do. It’s much brighter than the lume used on the dial markers, giving it a good contrast in the dark, but also accentuates the depth of the dial when in dark areas!
The case I very well machined and has a unique shape that is somewhere between round and squared. There is a slight 70’s inspiration, but because the dial almost goes out to the edge of the case, it becomes more than just an homage to the era.
The brushed finish of the case is also impeccable, and very subtle, so that it almost looks beat blasted. If you look closer, you realize that certain parts have a different finish: There is a polished ring on the high angled bezel, polished spacers where you attach the spring bars and the engraved lines on the side of the case are polished inside as well. There is also a line right above where the spring bars are attached, that i believe is beat blasted.
All of these elements show how much care and thought they put into this watch case, and it helps accentuate it’s futuristic look and give it a very cool personality.
It also worth noting the lugs are very far apart, and they had to put in a spacer so that the strap wouldn’t have to be over 24 mm. The big screws on the side of the lugs is another great detail that helps give this watch a futuristic and industrial look.
The crown is also unique to Code 41, and compliments the watch very well. It is polished expect for the circular edge where the logo is engraved. Its has some really cool triangular shapes to help with the grip, its has the perfect size and the logo is deeply engraved into it.
Simply put, the crown looks as futuristic as the watch case and dial, without being to big and too much.
The metal bracelet
I you decide to buy this watch, I would highly advise to put in the extra money and get the metal bracelet. Not only does it reinforce the whole futuristic look, but the bracelet itself is quite unique! The hidden butterfly clasp is great, the shape of each individual piece is unique and they play well with brushed and polished surfaces, like on the watch case.
What could have been better?
I just praised the metal bracelet a few lines earlier, so what gives? As i mention later on under “Price”, I asked some of my friends to guess the price of the watch. One of them is a watch enthusiast like myself, and he said the thing that gave away the real price of the watch was the bracelet. Had i given him just the case, he would have guessed higher.
I would love to see an option to buy a “luxury” metal bracelet that is as well built as the watch itself. It’s a shame to have such a well built watch, and then an inferior (although great) metal bracelet. One thing he said gave it away was the use of pins instead of screws to connect some of the parts of the bracelet.
The bracelet also doesn’t have any micro adjustment options, which can cause problems for a select few. I am lucky that it fits quite well, but some will see that the bracelet is either going to be too tight or too loose.
Even though Myiota movements are very reliable and robust, I would expect to see a watch of this caliber with an ETA movement. ETA has slightly stricter manufacturing procedures, making them less likely to put out faulty movements (check the comments, some people have had this problem). Some companies lets you choose your movement, which might be a valuable option to have.
If anyone from CODE 41 is reading this, take it as a compliment! Your watch is so great that it deserves the best movement possible!
I think the price is VERY fair
The price is one of the first things that seduced me, since i am not in a position to throw several thousand euros after a watch. And after owning one, i almost feel like i didn’t pay enough!
It is not everyone who can come up with 3000 euros for a watch, but 750 euros (for the cheapest one) remains a realistic amount for most people. If you put aside 60 euros a month for a year, you can spoil yourself for christmas!
Because i really felt like the quality of the watch case and sapphire crystal was above what i payed for, i asked some of my friends to guess the price of the watch. One guessed 1000 Euros, another guessed 2000 Euros and the last one guessed 600 – 800 Euros. The friend who guessed the smallest price is actually a fellow watch enthusiast, and he said that what gave away the actual price of the watch was the bracelet. Had i given him just the case, he would have guessed higher!
This was an interesting experiement that i might have to start doing in my other review. Let me know in the comment if you think it’s relevant.
Before creating watches, the people at Code41 were behind the megaphone of the GOLDGENA PROJECT, an initiative that aims to reveal the usurpers of the Swiss Made label. I have since learned that many swizz made watches are mostly made up of parts from China, which can be misleading. The companies has also driven up the prices to unfair amounts, simply because they can and because they often rely on larger distribution networks.
This is nothing new, as many other companies have used japanese movements for many years, that are very reliable. Seiko is a good example of relatively cheap but very good automatic watches. CODE 41 are simply the first to market themselves this way so intensely, which is smart because they are not wrong.
I really enjoy the fact that they are open about their company, history, and processes for future colelctions. Other watch brands are abd at doing this, wich is a shame since they often have great stories. You can see the details and origins of the watches and all the history of the brand in details on their website: code41watches.com
Code41 clearly shows where the different parts and services comes from and clearly shows you their profit margin and different production costs. It made me think of Premiere Manche, a shirt brand that I tested a while ago that is very open very open on the origin, the quality of the fabric and their profit margin. I like that, and i believe it is the future of marketing as we consumers get more and more critical.
CODE 41 has managed to create what feels like a true luxury automatic watch, for a very affordable price. Yes, the movement is not in-house or anything too fancy, but it’s put inside a beautifully crafted and well designed quality watch. The Anomaly 01 not a diver watch, not a dress watch, nor a sports watch. It resides within its own category, and can therefore hold the throne indefinately.
But I have to be honest. Using Japanese movements is nothing new and many other brands sell great watches with Miyota or Seiko movements. I have reviewed a few of these in the same price range, but none come close to the quality and level of detail of the Anomaly 01. Ultimately, you have to fall in love with the design and if you do, you can rest assured that you will get a great watch for the money!