The Type 46 Watch: An Interview with Gabriel Ménard of Division Furtive

Articles | 03.12.2012

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The Type 46 by Division Furtive represents a very new and interesting take on the modern wristwatch. Utilizing tech elements such as microprocessors, mechatronics and accelerometers, the Type 46 tells the time with what is called a “dual linear movement”, which replaces the typical hands of the watch with two cursors, which do a lot more than just tell the time.  The watch measures 50mm x 16mm, it’s jet black, it doesn’t look like anything else you’ve seen before, and it runs on a AAA battery. It will be produced in a limited run of 46 units and will retail for approximately $3,046.

When we first saw this extremely mysterious watch, we jumped at the opportunity to find out more. So we contacted Gabriel Ménard, the brains behind the Type 46 and the Division Furtive brand, with a bunch of questions that we’re sure you’ll be interested in reading.

  • How did Division Furtive come to be and what/what does the name derive from?

After designing products for others for a few years, I felt it was time for me to work my own brand/product line. The idea is to build something that makes the most out of what I’ve learned so far in life…in opposition to contract work where you usually have to focus on one aspect of your potential.

As for the name itself, it’s simply French for Furtive Division (or Stealth Division). I wanted something catchy but also unpretentious. I liked the idea of having a French name that could easily be understood in English.

  • For your first design, the Type 46, you have decided to create your very own movement. Was this out of necessity or a core direction of the brand?

Because I wanted to use my technical background as much as possible (electronics), I decided to make an electromechanical movement. It was also driven by a desire to innovate and I felt that I could not bring much to pure mechanical movements…the Swiss have be working on this for so long and they’re way to good at it!

  • The Type 46 utilizes a AAA battery to power the watch. What is the reasoning for using this type of battery?

In fact, unless shipping regulations make my life a living hell, the watch is planned to ship with AAA Lithium battery (the watch still works perfectly well on AAA Alkaline…battery life is a bit shorter however).  The watch uses a small processor, an accelerator and two miniature motors. The processor and accelerator don’t use much power but the motors are more power hungry. I wanted the watch to be able to operate for at least 365 days without needing a battery change: Physics and the Maths made the AAA battery a good choice. Furthermore, I wanted the battery to be replaceable by its owner: AAA batteries are very common and you can therefore change the battery anywhere in the world. In addition, the power level meter on the watch helps you plan for the battery change.

  • One of the amazing features that the Type 46 has is an accelerometer, also found on smartphones. What features of the watch will utilize this device?

The most important role of the accelerometer is to interact with the user. The cursors only moves when the user places the watch in front of him at about 45o so it’s the accelerometer’s job to detect this. Also, the watch has not buttons so you communicate with the watch by tapping the sapphire glass and by slightly rotating your wrist…another function supported by the accelerometer.

  • You are utilizing “mechatronics” instead of gears in this new caliber. Please explain to us how these work and their benefits over gearing?

In the Type 46 watch, the processor keeps the time and tells the motors when and where to move. Therefore even if the motors don’t move the watch is still keeping track of the time.

This is very different from a mechanical watch (either wind‐up or automatic) where the gears (coupled with the power from a spring and a timing reference from an oscillating mass) actually keep track of the time. This basic principle of operation relies on the precision of the many mechanical parts and makes the mechanical watches more susceptible to timing inaccuracy.

Quartz watches are much better at this because they use a very accurate crystal oscillator as a timing reference but they lack feedback between the actual hands’ position and the time keeping operation. This makes the quartz watch susceptible to some degree of mechanical movement imprecision and therefore timing inaccuracy.

The Type 46 has it all, it has a precise crystal oscillator timing reference and each time the cursors (no hands here) go back to zero, the mechanical movement is recalibrated. The time you read is always the time precisely kept by the processor.

  • With all the breakthroughs on the Type 46, the most noticeable is the dual linear movement. Please elaborate on how this readout will differ as well as give readouts of data to the user.

The primary readout is time: top cursor (the equivalent of the short hand on a traditional watch) gives the hours on a 1 to 12 scale (the actual order on the scale is 12, 1, …, 10, 11) and the bottom cursor (equivalent of the long hand) gives the minutes on a 0 to 59 scale. The user triggers the primary readout by placing the watch in front of him at about 45o.

There are nine secondary readouts: day, hours (with AM/PM), exact minute, day of the week, secondary hours (based on the set travel time zone), moon phase, chronometer, power reserve and interval until recommended maintenance. Based on the secondary scales, the bottom cursor indicates what feature is actually being read and the top cursor gives the actual value. The users access the secondary readouts by placing the watch in front of him at 45o (watch will first tells time) then by tapping the sapphire glass to navigate through the different secondary functions.

There is also a very important scale that can be observed through the window on back cover. This scale is used to configure the watch. The bottom cursor indicates what you are currently setting: time zone; AM/PM; year, month, day, hours or minutes; and the top cursor indicates the corresponding value.

  • With this being the first product for Division Furtive, what else can we expect to see from the brand. (only watches, other devices, other types of timing devices)

Watches are definitively going to be the core of the brand but don’t be surprised if other devices appear with time. The creation process at Division Furtive is oriented toward one premise: “What would James Bond wear/use?”, so there’s room to design more than watches. That being said, James, if you’re reading, the Type 46 watch with serial # 007 can be reserved specially for you if you want!

There is already an accessory collection for travel that has been designed and that will be released as soon as demand justifies production. You can peak at this at the parent studio’s website: www.design‐game.com

  • When will the Type 46 be available and how can people sign up to order one?

The first watch will be available for sale this summer. People can pre‐order one of the 46 production units via Division Furtive’s website: www.division‐furtive.com. Let alone the limited overall availability, there will be a 2 month lead time on orders as soon as the first watch is ready of sale, so I recommend interested buyer to act rapidly.

  • In your opinion what is the most important feature or function of any watch?

Precise styling and styled for precision.

  • Tell us about some of your favorite watches that you either own or admire.

I own a black TX T3B921 that I particularly appreciate. It has a compass and a chronograph. The compass hand, which also acts as the chronograph seconds hand, has an orange airplane shape at the end…this looks very good. Wearing it made me realize that watches can be more than time reading devices, they can incorporate more advanced features without being tacky (if done right…keeping the movement mechanical is the key here I think).

I admire Urwerk. The complications they are able to achieve be keeping the movement purely mechanical truly fascinate me. I hope to be lucky enough to own one someday.

  • If you can describe Division Furtive in three words what would they be?

Very distinctive (the third word is another “very”).

  • What’s next for Division Furtive?

The Type 50 wrist watch.

When the Type 46 debuts we will get some hands-on time with it so make sure to check back over the coming months.  In the meantime, take a closer look at Division Furtive’s website.