Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps has been founded in 2007 by Denis Giguet, the same person who later created the Harry Winston Opus Eleven in 2011. The workshop is based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and has given birth to some powerful and unusual ways of telling time, without using the classical hands.
MCT is one of those brands where it is not surprising to be surprised by the innovative and imaginative ways their watches show the passing time. We presented the Sequential Two – S200 at Baselworld 2014 and the MCT Frequential One F110 before Baselworld 2015. And have been impressed with the creativity of the team.
This year, at the brand’s 10th anniversary, MCT presents a new timepiece that has renewed our interest – the Dōdekal One.
MCT Dōdekal One D110
Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps Dōdekal One is, without a doubt, a complex and complicated watch. Yet, it shows the time in an unusual way, but which is still intuitive and easy-to-read. The hours are displayed in the centre of the dial and is inspired by the ‘70s LCD electronic watches. This digital display uses a system comprising of seven segments like in the classic LCD watch, with one major difference. The segments are displayed in a purely mechanical execution. For the minutes, the Dōdekal One uses a floating minutes’ hand.
The case, dial and hands
Dōdekal One has a 43mm x 43mm square case in the shape used in the Sequential One and the Frequential One. The watch case comes in two versions: an all titanium model and a black DLC-coated titanium with an 18k pink gold middle case accent. On both combinations, the case has the same finishes. The side of the case is polished and the bezel and the case-back are brushed in a circular pattern. The view is interesting from any point you look.
The entire case’s construction architecture is complex. Details abound. For example, a twist is made to the lugs is an aesthetic detail. Execution is quite complex as the shape is obtained by continuing the case line with a series of bends from the case’s side to the back. Every lug is an individual piece mounted on the case with three screws: two on the side of the case and one on the case back. A complicated way to mount lugs, but we love it for its charm.
The case size is rather big, but with the elegantly twisted short lugs, the watch sits firmly on the wrist without feeling very massive. The sum of all the arches and the multitude of convex surfaces makes for very nice aesthetics. The evolution of the case from previous collections seems to be heading in the right direction. The entire look and feel is engaging, and deserving as much admiration as the dial and movement.
The dial combination of a digital hour display (by the means of mechanical digits executed by a series of cams) and the “classical” minutes hand is not as confusing as you would first expect. You will need only a first look and your brain will assimilate the new system in double quick time. Though it does not have double dials, it awakens memories of the watches with double displays. If you are a child of the seventies, the Citizen DigiAna would come to mind, with its LCD screen featuring the 7 segment numerals and an analogue dial with hour and minutes hands.
The black dial has an aperture in the middle, where the central hour indication is set within as a standalone show. The time it takes to change from one hour to the next is about 2.5 seconds and is a mesmerising spectacle. This is a relatively long time, as the typical jumping hour takes perhaps only a fraction of a second. But it is so entertaining, that one is easily enchanted. We love watching the moving of the cams as it rearranges itself to present the next hour numeral.
The minutes’ indication is like mixing business with pleasure. A diagonal bridge is used to support the minute hand mechanism, and at first glance, it seems to be obstructing the minutes reading. But MCT places the minute hand on a sapphire disk which goes above the bridge. Allowing the minute hand to be visible throughout its traverse across the dial. The bridge has a sensuous, slender shape and is skeletonised. It partially covers minutes’ scale, but as the minutes are read by an indication of a red arrow on a sapphire disc on top of the bridge this does not hinder the reading. The bridge is engraved with the Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps logo.
The time reading is effortless and rather fun, with the spectacle of the changing of the hour taking on an amusement for the owner. The dial is impeccably executed with precise finishes and technical show ups. An example is the movement that is fixed to the bridges with screws on the second diagonal.
The movement: MCT-D1
The D1 movement is a micro-rotor automatic in-house calibre. The finishes are of the nicely made: a fine perlage is visible on the main-plate, bridges with hand beveling and decorated with “Côtes de Genève”, the balance bridge is skeletonised and with polished edges. On the dial side, the “face” of the MCT-D1 is frosted and hand-chamfered in a way that does not distract from the dial’s details.
The solid gold micro-rotor is mounted on ball-bearings and provides a nice visual interest to the movement.
The movement is a classical slow beat, at 18,000 bph with a power reserve of 50 hours. The technical innovation of the hour’s segments display uses a complex set of cams and carriages to do the job. Another interesting detail is the additional wheel over the minute’ scale needed to move the sapphire disc for the minutes’ indication. This is visible on the dial at 7:30 o’clock.
The Competitive Landscape
The MCT Dōdekal One is not the only “digital” mechanical watch available on the market. One of the most unusual timepiece is the Harry Winston Opus Eleven, designed by Denis Giguet and released in 2011. This watch displays only hour and minutes, but in a spectacular manner. Every hour, 24 plates revolve and rotate on a complicated system of gears, mounted on an epicycloid gear-train. From these, four plates will meet in the centre forming the hour. The minutes’ indication uses two discs mounted in a second overlapped cylinder. The third overlapped cylinder of the 18k white gold case is dedicated to the balance wheel exhibition. This timepiece is limited to a series 111 of watches and had a release price of US$ 230,000.
Another inhabitant in the landscape would be the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Ref. 140.029. This is the Lange’s very first mechanical wristwatch with a digital time display format. The Lange dial looks well balanced. The digits are huge, and the hours are read from left to right, a first for a digital watch. Earlier digital displays in other watches have used small digits and read from top down. Since launch, Lange has released several versions of this jumping time watch culminating to the Decimal Strike Minute Repeater of this year. We carried a survey of these in our The Vertical Collection: Three essential Watches feature.
Another technical marvel with central hour indication is the self-winding Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ. The dual time zone watch uses open worked hands to display one time zone in a classical way. The second-time-zone is almost hidden in the middle of the dial, being visible only by a direct look. This watch is a collaboration between Fabergé and Agenhor Manufacture. The Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ comes with a 43mm gold and titanium case and can be bought for S$ 43,793 (tax included).
The closest to the 7-segment character design is perhaps the de Grisogono Meccanico DG. This watch is a modern mechanical replica of the dual time watches from the ‘70s with LCD display and analogue time. Consisting of 651 individual components, this timepiece uses 23 cams connected to synchronised gears for the digital-style display. The digital display uses four characters to show the complete hours/minutes time. The Meccanico GT has a titanium and pink gold case with generous size: 48mm x 56mm. The price tag of the de Grisogono Meccanico DG jumps over CHF 300,000.
Between so technical and complicated horological examples, there is a wristwatch with a central hour and a rotating minutes’ disc, which is almost a vintage piece – the Calabrese SUN-TRAL. Packed in an elegant 36mm steel or gold case, this jumping-hour watch uses a modified ETA2892-2. Released in 2002, the SUN-TRAL is now a collector’s piece. The only chance to have one is to inquiry the auction houses with the hope that one will become available, like this gold one from Christie’s, sold for CHF 5,625.
We are happy to see MCT back on the horological landscape with a new timepiece. The Dōdekal One D110 has a new case, smaller than predecessors’ and a new complication in form of a cinematic hour change. This watch is a nice find for a hunter of peculiar ways of time telling.
The Dōdekal One Specifications and Price
The MCT Dodekal One D110 will be available in a 25-piece limited series for each version and is expected to retail CHF 55,000 for titanium and respectively CHF 61,000 for the titanium black with 5N pink gold editions.
Type: mechanical self-winding movement
Dimensions: not provided
Power reserve: 50 hours
Frequency: 2.5Hz; 18,000 vibrations per hour
Functions: Central digital indication of the hour
Minutes’ indication by a flying hand
Material: Crafted from titanium Grade 5 / titanium and 18k pink gold
Dimensions of the case
Diameter: 43mm x 43mm mm
Crystal: cambered crystal made of sapphire with double anti-reflective coating
Caseback: sapphire with anti-reflective coating on the inside side
Water resistance: 30m / 3 ATM
Material: Alligator inner leather
Buckle: Deployment clasp