The “metre” or “meter” has as it's physical standard one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the equator along the meridian running near Dunkirk in France and Barcelona in Spain. Measures for capacity (volume) and mass were to be derived from the unit of length, thus relating the basic units of the system to each other and to nature. Furthermore, larger and smaller multiples of each unit were to be created by multiplying or dividing the basic units by 10^x or simply by shifting the decimal point. This feature provided a great convenience to users of the system, by eliminating the need for such calculations as dividing by 16 (to convert ounces to pounds) or by 12 (to convert inches to feet).

Measures for capacity (volume) and mass were to be derived from the unit of length, thus relating the basic units of the system to each other and to nature.