Before you say anything, yes, I know there are grey and white sections of this watch. It’s not the darkest watch in that there are the most black components on the watch. No, it’s the darkest in a much cooler way: the black parts are actually darker than the black parts on any other watch. The inside of the case of this limited edition MCT Sequential One are coated in Vantablack, the darkest substance ever made by human beings. You really can’t believe it until you see it.
First off, what the heck is Vantablack? It is the darkest substance produced by human beings and was first created by Surrey Nanosystems in the United Kingdom in 2014. On a very basic level, it is a carbon nanotube coating (not dissimilar from the dial-coating on the new Panerai Lab-ID Cara wrote about the other day), but the tubes are particularly thin at one millionth of a millimeter thick, and they’re packed very densely on the surface. The result is a black coating that absorbs 99.965% of all light that hits it. Do a quick Google image search for “Vantablack” and look at the results. It’s pretty wild stuff.
This watch started as a chance meeting between the founder of MCT and artist Anish Kapoor, who has the exclusive artistic rights from Surrey Nanosystems to use Vantablack. Strange, I know. One thing turned into the next and eventually Kapoor decided to work with MCT on this limited edition watch.
Essentially, this watch is your standard MCT Sequential One 101 Evo, but with the inside of the case coated in Vantablack (it’s actually an internal layer, not the caseback itself, since you can see the movement through the sapphire caseback). The result is that the visible portions of the movement and time display seem to hover above a bottomless void. You peer into the corners in particular and all you can see is the shimmer from the crystal, but no actual surface below. As you get to the center of the movement, it seems to spring up from nowhere, with no anchor points to be found – the components look like they disappear into nothing.
One of the coolest parts of this watch though is the seconds hand. You can stare all you want into those dark, dark corners, but one of the peculiars things about Vantablack is that it washes away the context for understanding just how dark it is. It’s slightly paradoxical like that. But the tail end of the seconds hand offers a bit of help. Just the last few millimeters of the hand and counterweight are also treated in Vantablack. So, as the tail of the hand passes from above the mechanics and to above the Vantablack corners, it disappears. Entirely. Just look at this photo and you can see the hand half-on, half-off the bottom right corner. It’s wild.
In case you’re not familiar with the Sequential One, it’s worth going over how that seemingly-floating time display works. The hours are displayed on sets of five prisms that form panels to show the numerals. Only one is visible at a time, thanks to the C-shaped panel suspended on top that acts as the minute track. When the retrograde minute hand hits the end of its path, it snaps back and the track itself swings 90 degrees to reveal the next numbers. You can watch the prisms turn as well over the course of the hour, ensuring future hours are ready to go when it’s their turn.
This is all powered by the MCT-S1.0 movement, which is an entirely in-house caliber. It has 471 total components, 81 of which are jewels. The power reserve is 50 hours. If you look closely at the front of the Sequential One, you can see just how many tiny gears and bearings are required to turn those prisms efficiently. The back displays relatively traditional decoration, albeit on a square movement with decidedly non-traditional architecture. The movement you see here is a prototype, but on the final versions each caliber will has Anish Kapoor’s signature on it as well.
When you put the Vantablack Sequential One on, it’s a strange feeling. First off, at 45mm square and 15.5mm thick, this is a big watch. Even with the arched lugs, it definitely wears as big as it is, though the DLC titanium construction does keep the weight down. Looking at the dial is a bit disorienting on the wrist. It’s the pure opposite of a skeleton. Instead of offering transparency, it offers nothingness. Right there on your wrist. One is inclined to feel like a super villain.
Ultimately, while the Vantablack Sequential One isn’t a watch I think I could wear with any regularity, I found it much more charming than I expected to. What could easily have been a total gimmick turns out to be an interesting experiment in watchmaking and style that throws tradition and well-tread paths to the wind. If you’re fortunate to get a chance to see one of these before they all find owners (or you have the right kind of watch-buying friends), do. That is, if you can even talk about “seeing” Vantablack at all.
The MCT Sequential One 110 Evo Vantablack is a limited edition of 10 pieces, priced at $95,000. For more, visit MCT online.