A 10-year anniversary is a big deal by any measure. It is even more so in our day and age when impressions are ever more fleeting and the pursuit to create something that endures several lifetimes is all but necessary.  Particularly for Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps (MCT), its 10th anniversary is of importance not only for the brand itself, but also in the timeline of horology because its decade-long existence now validates the power in the fresh new design language that Denis Giguet conceived in 2007 with the first MCT watch: the Sequential One. And, of course, for a second — possibly more important — reason, being that it is now self-evident that MCT’s approach to watchmaking has garnered and sustained the right emotions from an astute crowd of collectors.

However, MCT’s days have not been all sunny. Right in the middle of its decade-long life, and until very recently, there was a sense in the air that MCT may have lost a little of its initial spark. But then its original founder Denis Giguet, who had left the brand for a few years, made a comeback to the brand along with Pierre Jacques earlier in 2016. Both men were instrumental in the starting days of the brand and, therefore, their coming back at this crucial phase of MCT’s lifetime was a godsend.

The first fate-altering decision the brand took then was to increase their visibility by participating at both SIHH and Basel in the year 2017. But visibility wouldn’t be enough to herald the brand’s come back if it had nothing to show for itself.

The Second Coming

Keeping in mind that the timeline to work within was extremely tight, MCT kept two main focuses that proved to be highly intelligent. The first would be to ride a current cultural trend in watchmaking and provide for its collectors something that is uniquely MCT. The second would be to create something completely unprecedented.

It was at SIHH that MCT gave the world these two watches. The first, a watch in 2016’s metal of choice: The Sequential Two S220 Bronze. Immediately what you have is a watch that takes advantage of the recent demand for bronze watches. And particularly for the collectors of the brand, it provided them the chance to own an MCT watch in a metal that has not yet been utilized in the decade past. The watch, therefore, was not only of appeal to the brand’s existing collectors, but also to those who may simply have been in the market for a bronze watch.

The Sequential Two S220 Bronze, however, finds itself in a league of its own in a market where many other brands are doing bronze watches as well, because MCT has taken the time to carefully age the bronze case of the watch so that it has already developed a rich, worn-in color by the time it’s on your wrist for the first time. They’ve then stabilized this aging process so that the color is maintained and the case doesn’t experience further drastic oxidization.

While the S220 Bronze is a watch that capitalizes on what is working for the rest of the industry, the second watch that MCT brought to SIHH, lays claim to a material that has not yet been seen in watchmaking in any capacity.

Created in partnership with the internationally recognized sculptor and artist Anish Kapoor, the Sequential One — S110 Evo Vantablack, is a watch that is evolved from the brand’s existing S110 Evo. But what is this Vantablack and why does its use make the watch any different from the original S110 Evo? In order to fully appreciate this, we must first understand what Vantablack is.

Vantablack, or Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays, is essentially a synthetic material obtained by growing closely packed, vertical carbon nanotubes on top of an existing metal surface. The physical arrangement of these nanotubes is such that when visible light strikes the surface of the material, it ends up being continuously deflected inside such that only 0.035% of it is ever reflected back to the naked eye. This phenomenon has earned Vantablack the name, “blackest black”.

In collaborating with Mr. Kapoor, MCT was granted the opportunity to not only tap into  his artistic vision, but also to use this mysterious dark substance, which is presently otherwise exclusively licensed to his studio for artistic use. However, rather than superficially applying this substance to the entirety of the watch, to create the “blackest” black watch ever, the material has been used in the watch surprisingly sparingly.

Don’t be fooled — the black you see on the watch case is actually DLC-treated titanium. The only parts where Vantablack has been applied in the watch are on one end of its minute hand, which is shaped like a small moon and the background of the dial, which seems to create this illusion that the watch’s familiar MCT dial elements are afloat above a dark endless chasm. This resultant visual effect is really something that you must witness in person to fully comprehend.

Writing the Next Chapter

The S110 Evo Vantablack, in particular, was the one that created a lot of buzz at SIHH. But MCT perhaps had already foreseen the success they would have with their SIHH watches and, therefore, made plans ahead of time to release some far greater projects at Baselworld and throw their newfound momentum into full throttle.

The first watch to be introduced at Basel is the Sequential Two S210 Sport: an all-black rugged, titanium version of the S210, which stems from a bit of inspiration that Pierre Jacques received while on the road. Some time ago, a friend of Pierre’s asked him, “Do you know what type of watch is sold between 23-degrees north and south of the equator more than anywhere else on earth?”

The answer to that question is, apparently, any watch on a rubber strap. When you think about it, this isn’t too hard to comprehend, considering the fact that 23-degrees north and south of the equator is essentially the tropics, where wearing a watch on a bracelet or leather strap isn’t always the most pleasant experience.

The second watch to be introduced at Basel, and really the climax of MCT’s present revivalist movement, is the Dōdekal One. This watch will prove itself pivotal in continuing the story of MCT for the next decades, because through it, the brand has demonstrated that it wasn’t afraid to take its original watch — the Sequential One — and tear it apart in order to refine it, thus scaling the watch’s case down from the initial 45mm cushion-shaped case to a 43mm one.

But the most important reason why the Dōdekal One is going to be an important watch in the story of MCT that has yet to be written, is because it proves that there remain more ways to develop MCT’s horological language, which has always been to display mechanical time digitally. Here, for instance, in a new movement that has been designed from the ground up, MCT has veered away from its typical sequential indication of hours on prisms. They’ve now discovered a way to use a set of plates and cams to show the hours by means of two segmented digit displays.

This new display sits at the center of the watch face, giving it the center stage that it deserves. While we’ve seen the 360º minute display mechanism used on the Sequential Two watches before, the implementation here on the D dekal One is a completely refreshed approach.

Tough as it may have been for the brand to reach its 10th anniversary, one thing no one can refute is that in this time, MCT has proven to be one of very few brands that have successfully established an absolutely unique design language in the landscape of watchmaking. But it will be by means of watches such as the Dōdekal One, which stretch and reinvent the brand, that MCT will evolve and remain desirable for plenty more decades to come.

Sequential Two

S220 Bronze

Movement

MCT-S2.0 self-winding movement with a gold micro-rotor; sequential indication of hours on prisms, and minutes; 50-hour power reserve

Case

44.60mm; bronze with sapphire crystals on top, middle and rear of case; water-resistant to 30m

Strap

Calfskin leather with stainless steel, triple deployment clasp

*Limited to 10 pieces

Sequential One

S110 Evo Vantablack by Anish Kapoor

Movement

MCT-S1.0 manual winding movement; sequential indication of hours on prisms and minutes on 270° sector; 50-hour power reserve

Case

45.00 x 45.00mm; DLC coated grade 5 Titanium; water-resistant to 30m

Strap

Alligator leather with stainless steel triple deployment clasp

*Limited to 10 pieces

Sequential Two

S210 Sport

Movement

MCT-S2.0 self-winding movement with gold micro-rotor; sequential indication of hours on prisms, and minutes; 50-hour power reserve

Case

46.4mm; DLC coated grade 5 titanium; water-resistant to 30m

Strap

Rubber with stainless steel, triple deployment clasp

*Limited to 25 pieces

Dōdekal One

D110

Movement

MCT-D1 self-winding movement with gold micro-rotor; hours by digit and minutes; 50-hour power reserve

Case

43mm; DLC coated grade 5 titanium and pink gold

Strap

Alligator leather with stainless steel, triple deployment clasp

*Limited to 25 pieces