“Architectural” is a word that gets tossed around frequently in design circles, and it’s easy enough to see why. Architecture is industrial design writ large—the grandest possible canvas for functional creativity. When elements usually seen in buildings make their way into smaller-scale forms, then the results can be dramatic. That’s the approach for newcomers Moduco (short for Modern Urban Company), and their eponymous first effort simply styled as MODUCO. The Swiss/American team behind the brand aimed to capture the grit, sophistication and most importantly the verticality of the modern cityscape. With a unique design, wide variety of options, and reliable power plants, this looks to be a strong first effort from the firm.The case (measuring 44mm) of the MODUCO is perhaps its strongest selling point. Rising up like a medieval turret from the sandblasted outer case and lugs is an aggressive, vertically brushed cylindrical center case. From the side, the main outer case not only contrasts in surfacing, it cuts through the harsh geometric lines of the inner case in a gentle continuous arc. This lends some organic, lighter qualities to a design that could quickly become too aggressive. Viewing the case from above, the look is slightly more conventional with a wide bezel framed by a mirror polished bevel. The heavy brushing from the sides continues here, but in a surprising direction. Instead of conventional radial or even vertical brushing, the coarse grain of the bezel runs diagonally. Aligned halfway between one and two, this is a surprising touch that could easily become a brand signature in the future.
Minimalism is the name of the game for the MODUCO’s dial. The matte surface remains almost completely unmarred, except of the disco-era Modulo script at 12. The indices come in the form of a Panerai-style lower sandwich dial, which for an added bit of dynamism is high gloss. Continuing the theme of verticality, the oversized Roman twelve o’ clock marker is a high-rise full millimeter above the main dial. The handset is a suitably muted set of skeletonized batons, allowing the depth variety to take center stage.
The MODUCO is launching with a choice of the venerable Sellita SW200 automatic or the Ronda 513 Swiss quartz movement. This is a solid decision for a startup, allowing the brand to compete at two different price points as the company finds its footing. And as both versions are assembled in Jura, the heart of Swiss watchmaking country, quality assurance for both should leave collectors resting easy.
Moduco is launching the watch with a surprising variety of strap options, from calf leather to Cordura fabric, to a nylon one-piece and steel milanese bracelet. The options on hand should cover all the basics for a prospective buyer, but other leather strap options might be interesting in the future.While both the automatic and quartz versions of the MODUCO are priced near the top of their segments at $999 and $499 respectively, there’s enough quality and fascinating ideas at play here to warrant a look from any lover of architecture-inspired design. Even better, there are some deep discounts on offer to early backers on their Kickstarter campaign, which began yesterday and runs through March 1st, bringing the automatic down to a more reasonable $599 and the quartz all the way down to $299.